I am currently reading existential masterpiece '리락쿠마의 하루'.

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Here's the first page:

리락쿠마의 친구들

미스 카오루
시내에서 회사원으로 일하는 여성.
매일 잔업으로 피곤한 나날들을 보낸다.
편의점에서 '뭐, 새로운 거 없나' 살피는 건,
다이어트 할까 맘먹을 때마다 반복되는 일상.

어느 날 혼자 사는 아파트에 돌아오니 쿠마가 있었다.
아끼는 구슬 쿠션을 쿠마에게 빼앗기기도 하고 쿠마의 장난기 때문에
힘들어 하면서도 미워하지 않고 쿠마를 돌봐준다.


갑자기 미스 카오루의 아파트에 나타난 쿠마.
등에 지퍼가 달린 걸로 봐서 겉가죽을 종종 갈아입는 듯.
사상 최강의 귀차니스트답게
매일같이 설렁설렁 뒹굴뒹굴하는 중.

즐겨 먹는 건 핫케이크, 완자, 오므라이스, 푸딩.
눈독 들이고 있는건 미스 카오루의 금색 구슬 쿠션.
좋아하는 건 음악듣기, TV보기, 온천욕하기.


미스 카오루는 따로 이름을 붙이지 않는 듯...?
'노랑병아리'로 불리는 노란색의 병아리.
대체로 새장에 들어가 있지만, 종종 제멋대로 나와서 리락쿠마를 깨운다.
최근의 큰 쇼크는 리락쿠마 등에 달린 지퍼의 열린 틈새로 물방울무늬
같은 피부를 목격한 일이다.

I was intrigued how many sentences there (italicized above) don't seem to have main verbs in.

Some of these might be written in a similarly verb-free way in English - e.g. the ones that are just like a noun that's an alternative identification, like '시내에서 회사원으로 일하는 여성'.

Other sentences seem very long to not be completed by a verb, e.g. 편의점에서 '뭐, 새로운 거 없나' 살피는 건, 다이어트 할까 맘먹을 때마다 반복되는 일상.

Is this a common way to write in Korean, or is it something to do with it being a translation from Japanese?

If it's something that is encountered in Korean, how should I understand the 'feel'? Does it have a shorthand / note-taking / diary style?

2 Answers 2


To me, the text looks as though it needed pictures to go with it.

Comic book bubbles often contain sentence fragments because, I believe, the picture is then supposed to complete the thought. For instance, 'After the fall of the Empire. . .' with a picture of some smoldering ruins, to mean, 'Things looked like this.' So when the text stops at 'Miss Kaoru,' 'a woman with a desk job in the city,' or 'each day fatigued with unfinished work,' I feel as though I ought to stop and picture something to myself.

A diary would be a good comparison too. There we often find fragments, or a succession of memorable sights. I think the idea is that the author can say more, but since he is writing only to himself he need not.

Or compare how one may react to this (from Camus's The Stranger):

And I can remember the look of the church, the villagers in the street, the red geraniums on the graves, Pérez’s fainting fit—he crumpled up like a rag doll—the tawny-red earth pattering on Mother’s coffin, the bits of white roots mixed up with it; then more people, voices, the wait outside a café for the bus, the rumble of the engine, and my little thrill of pleasure when we entered the first brightly lit streets of Algiers, and I pictured myself going straight to bed and sleeping twelve hours at a stretch.

To some readers, the style (of the Korean text) may just look distracted, or sloppy, or--worse yet--trying to achieve some result without working for it.

On the suggestion in the other answer, I don't think you should see these fragments as combining to form whole sentences. That may be a useful grammatical exercise, but also may defeat the whole purpose.

On the comments now, yes, there is a poetic feel to this type of text probably because we now associate poetry with greater freedom. (But isn't that just modern poetry?)

There would be implied 이다 or 있다 or other things in these fragments in the sense that they are capable of acquiring it and thus turning into well-formed sentences, but probably not in the sense that the speaker meant it. (In 'Are you hungry?' - 'I am,' we may say that the second person meant 'hungry.')

I don't believe the style is common outside comic books.

  • Just for clarity, there aren't any accompanying pictures on this page other than a picture of each character. Maybe the idea is to make you imagine the things described as 'pictures' in your mind? Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 7:36
  • @topomorto. I never saw the book; so that's what I felt invited to do, just from the text. / What does it mean for this book to be 'existential'? People only seem to call 'existential' what they like very much.
    – Catomic
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 8:17
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existentialism says "There has never been general agreement on the definition of existentialism", and I agree! Nevertheless, it's often about the choices we make and how they relate to the definition of who we are. You're right that people would probably like something they call 'existential', because it implies it has a deep meaning for them. Here, though, I was just making a joke by using a posh academic word to describe a rather silly book, although the book does very much deal with themes described here: allaboutphilosophy.org/existentialism.htm Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 8:41
  • 1
    @topomorto. Only joking? Silly book? What a comedown for poor Rilakkuma!
    – Catomic
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 9:06

You can assume that the first and second lines are one sentence.

시내에서 회사원으로 일하는 '여성 'is a subject

매일 잔업으로 피곤한 나날들을 보낸다 is the main verb.

Meaning that " The woman working in the city lives a life of ... "

Also the third and fourth lines are a sentence.

편의점에서 '뭐, 새로운 거 없나' 살피는 건 (subject) is

다이어트 할까 맘먹을 때마다 반복되는 일상 (noun)

  • Can you comment on how common this is and the feeling/style? I have seen it from time to time, but always looked poetic to me. I also assumed there is was an implied 이다 or 있다 verb in these cases. Does that seem like an acceptable interpretation? Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 2:08
  • The third and fourth lines are indeed one sentence - I was just pointing out that there's no main verb. I think you're right that there's an implied 'is' or 이다. Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 7:36
  • 2
    @ryanbrainard yes it is more poetic. More specific, it is a monology so "is" can be implied. Yes it sounds pretty ok
    – Sung
    Commented Feb 1, 2017 at 8:41

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