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COMMUNITY Edited by Jenny Na (jenny@groovekorea.com)

Channeling Korea Professor Oh and company ham it up to make language lessons fun Story by Sophie Boladeras / Photos by Dylan Goldby

K

orean-American Mina Oh quelled the boredom of college life by sifting through an inexhaustible number of cat and music videos on YouTube. She noticed that there weren’t many Korean-language videos, so she decided to make a simple lesson teaching the Korean alphabet and the video was online in just a couple hours. The architecture undergrad had no idea that the video would eventually rake in more than 1.5 million views. After more early successes like this, Oh is now the mastermind of her own quirky YouTube channel Sweet And Tasty, which has since attracted more than 140,000 subscribers and hurled her into a career that harnesses

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her creative nature. “I was so enthusiastic to make the videos that I would sleep less to work on them,” she said over Korean fare at Slobbie restaurant in Hongdae during a recent visit to Seoul. “Eventually, I decided that architecture wasn’t the most compatible career for me and I started the KWOW (Korean Word of the Week) series.” After the first series caught on, she eventually added another one called Snack Tub Korea, which has her alter ego Professor Oh reviewing a tub full of Korean snacks. To liven up her videos, Oh kept adding more characters to the cast. There’s also the Korean foodie Taekwon Do and his aegyo-licious,

K-pop-loving girlfriend Billy Jin; Taekwon Do’s best friend Hyungmin, who owns a Korean BBQ restaurant and nightclub; and Hyungmin’s catty girlfriend Madison, who is always clashing with Billy Jin. “The characters were born out of necessity and limitation,” she said. “The Korean language contains honorifics and gender-specifics. To teach important words and phrases for diverse social situations, I needed a family of actors and actresses. “My real-life Korean grandmother was thousands of miles away, so I created my own grandmother: the hip-hoppin’ gangster Granny Kim. Everyone needs a friend, thus another granny was born: Bongja, an addict of every-

Groove Korea April 2014  

Groove is Korea's English magazine for Insight, Travel, Culture, Dining and Shopping