A new student joined my Korean class today, so it was, once again, time for introductions. I hate introducing myself in Korean. I never know what to say. In the Homeland, all you have to say is your name and "Nice to meet you." At most, you'll have to mention your occupation or your hometown. In the Motherland, at least from what I've observed, you have to give a whole little spiel. It's not enough to say your name. They always look at you expectantly as if they're waiting for a summary of your life story.
I think my failure of an introduction is one of the reasons why my Korean teacher thinks that I am a bumbling idiot. I basically said something to the effect of "My name is Annalog. I am American. I don't speak very well, but my listening skills are alright." I didn't even say "Nice to meet you." The phrase 만나서 반갑습니다 (Manaseo bangapsumnida) is one of the first phrases you're taught in Korean 101, but I can never get myself to use it. It's sounds so lame whenever I say it in Korean, as if I reciting from the sample dialogue in my Korean textbook.
The new student in my class, a Japanese woman, in contrast, did an excellent job of introducing herself. In addition to giving us the 411 on herself, she ended with the phrase, "잘 부탁합니다," which translates essentially to "Please take care of me." This is a very common closing when introducing oneself in Korean. (I should note this phrase is usually used when introducing yourself to a class or a new work place. You wouldn't use the phrase when picking up a Korean girl at the "booking" club).
I find the use of this phrase very curious. I wonder if this phrase is a reflection of a greater sense of solidarity. I would never say, "Please take care of me" to a bunch of strangers back in the Homeland. This is why I haven't been able to utter the phrase in Korean either. Maybe that's why my teacher doesn't seem to like me. It's because I didn't ask her to.
I asked the teacher what one is supposed to say during a self-introduction, and she narrowed it down to three items:
1) Your name
2) Your age
3) Marital/dating status
According to my teachers, those are the three details that Koreans are most interested in hearing. So very true.