Korean Exchange Student Talks about Her Time in America


Ally Knighton, Staff Writer

Recently, FTHS welcomed a new addition to the junior class named “장성결” or Romanized, Jang Seong Kyul (in Korea, the last name goes first). During her time here, however, she’d like to be called Rachel. Here she is!


What’s some American slang you’ve picked up on?

“‘What’s up?’ I didn’t know that was slang. And ‘fam’, I didn’t know fam! In my country, we always say ‘What’s up, girl?”


What is some Korean slang that you think we should pick up?

“대박 (daebak), it means really great and 알바 (alba) which means part time job.”


What’s a Korean food that should be popular here?

“Kimchi (김치). People know it as Japanese even though it is Korean. It’s very popular and it shows most of Korean food taste.”

Kimchi is a popular side dish in Korea made with fermented vegetables with large amount of seasoning. The most essential ingredient to Kimchi is napa cabbage or a leafy vegetable even though there are hundreds of kinds of kimchi.

In the late 90’s, Japan began producing “Kimuchi” as a food that was similar to kimchi. Japanese kimuchi used a lot of salt as a preservative but regardless, it’s still widely observed as a traditional Korean food, not Japanese.


What’s something that you get asked a lot?

“‘Are you North Korean?’ or ‘Have you been to North Korea?’ I say, ‘Are you kidding me? No!’ When I hear, it’s really ridiculous. Americans know more about North Korea more than South Korea I understand why they ask me but it’s really weird question.”


What’s a music group/song everyone should listen to from Korea?

“IU! She was an idol but everyone considers an idol, like G-Dragon is almost an artist, but IU is better than an idol. “

Rachel’s referring to G Dragon, real name Kwon Ji-yong (권지용), is a member of the famous band BIGBANG (빅뱅) that started making headway in the American fashion and music industry in the last two years. He’s regarded as an ‘artist’ more so than a performer.

IU, or Lee Ji-eun, is a well-known singer/songwriter in Korea and has been in agencies since she was in middle school. As a very public figure from a young age, IU is seen as more than an ‘idol’ or performer, she encompasses many talents and is a well-rounded individual in the music industry.


What thing would you want to bring back home if you could?

“I want to bring back the ‘Welcome to America Seongkyul!’ poster that my other host family made for me when I came to the airport. I didn’t cry but I almost cried because I was so thankful. It was made with paper but I brought it with me when I came to New Jersey because it is so important to me.

All the pictures that have my experiences in America and I want to print them out in an album and bring them home. I also want to bring my bookbag- the American study book bag because it has a lot of things that I did in English so I’ll be proud when I go back home.”