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Jejueo fun with ‘big, goofy white guy’Positive early reactions to new ‘Happy Jeju Language’ edutainment show
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승인 2015.03.11  17:41:36
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▲ The Happy Jeju Language team are out to make education fun. Image courtesy Mike Laidman

Jiggeojineun Jejueo, or Happy Jeju Language, is a bi-weekly educational show by Mike Laidman and “EJ” Hong Eun-jeong to promote the endangered language. The Jeju Weekly recently caught up with Mike to learn some more about the show.

Introduce the Jiggeojineun Jejueo team.
EJ and I met at Arirang Radio where I do the nightly news, and she does a Monday segment. We also have Kwon Mi-so on board, a Jeju language expert, who helps us wade through the technicalities of the Jeju language. A couple of friends also help out here and there on a voluntary basis.

Whose idea was the show?
I’d been tossing around the idea of a big goofy white guy speaking some Korean for well over a year, and a Jejueo show came to mind.

EJ and our Arirang translator, Mi-yeon, would tease me regularly in the Jeju language, so I thought I’d ask EJ if she was interested. She is passionate about Jejueo and said yes right away.

EJ came up with the final idea of doing fun parodies of famous ads and dramas to broaden the show's appeal.

▲ Mike sings the famous children's song "Three Bears in One House" in Jeju language. Photo courtesy Mike Laidman

What is the goal of your series?
This series should be a useful supplement to the official Jejueo promotion efforts. We also hope it is just funny, and people can take 10 minutes out of their day to learn and laugh.

The language is disappearing and kids often can’t understand their grandparents and use only really simple stuff, thinking it is old-fashioned and only for old farmers.

Losing a language means losing an integral piece of one’s culture and history, so we hope viewers can be inspired to learn, or even just look at me and laugh.

How do you write the scripts?
We start with a funny idea and then look for a way to fit that into a little story, a short scene, or do a fun parody of something well known.

We write the Korean together, and then I take a stab at the Jejueo bit, as I’m trying to learn. Then EJ will looks it over before we send it to Kwon Mi-so for a final check.

“EJ” Hong Eun-jeong politely quietens Mike Laidman down during an episode of the Jeju language show. Photo courtesy Mike Laidman

Who is the target audience?
Anyone and everyone! If older people watch it and get a kick out of it, then that’s great, but we guess the main target would be Jeju’s younger generation. It would be great for them to have a stronger connection with their culture and history.

Why did you add English subtitles?
We always planned to have Korean subtitles for the Jejueo, but the English was added due to popular demand! The English subtitles also open up the show to those who may be interested in learning standard Korean, too.

What has the reaction been like so far?
Very positive. We’re really pushing it at the moment, and most think it’s quite funny, which is great to hear. Some have also had some constructive criticism, which is great, as well.

Any surprises for the future?
We do have some really fun ideas for future episodes, but nothing we want to give away just yet!

You can catch the latest Happy Jejueo on YouTube by subscribing to “Jejueo Team” or by following "지꺼지는 제주어" on Facebook. New episodes are released on the 15th and 30th of each month.

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