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How Learning Chinese Saved Jo Hye-ryun's Life

2013/08/01 | 781 views | Permalink | Source

Comedienne Jo Hye-ryun is back with a new book and as determined as ever. She disappeared from view after her 13-year marriage ended in divorce but now re-emerged with the book on how to learn Chinese.

"Learning Chinese saved me in the last three years from the fiercely competitive life in showbiz", she says.

This is her second book on foreign language learning, the first being one about Japanese.

Her younger sister, who teaches Chinese, helped her to learn the language. "I think it was 1993. I funded my sister's studies at Renmin University of China. At the time, Chinese was not a popular foreign language to learn in Korea. I was also just starting my career so I wasn't earning much, but I made a big decision to support her. And after she finished her studies there and settled as a language instructor, I asked her to teach me Chinese in repayment for my help back then. She taught me Chinese three hours a day every day", Jo says.

"I'm not very good at languages, but just trying hard and spending a lot of time and energy on it paid off", she says. Just a year and two months after she started, Jo passed an upper-level HSK Chinese Proficiency test, and she can now understand 60-70 percent of newspaper articles, films and TV programs.

Immediately after the divorce, she fled to Shenzhen, where for seven months she rented a small room and lived alone. She remembers that time as a precious period that taught her a lot about life.

"I was able to reflect on my life. I was so used to the celebrity life", Jo says. "Since I've come back people have been saying that I look much more at ease on TV. I won't spend the rest of my life living like a race horse, tied up in constant struggles to win".

It seems clear that the crisis helped her become a stronger person. "Of course it would be great to live a life of enormous achievement. But these days, I think perhaps a life of many small achievements can be a good and balanced thing".

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