I'm trying to read 보건교사 안은영 by 정세랑. Aaaand I got stuck on the first sentence.

장마철의 보충수업 기간, 학교에 들어서는 순간 신발장 냄새가 진했다.

So the papago translation is:

During the rainy season, the smell of shoe rack was strong as soon as I entered school.

And that makes sense. My problem is really just this bit:

장마철의 보충수업 기간

Is it a metaphor or a saying or something?

  • 1
    I haven't read that novel (presumably?) so I am not sure about the context, but from what is given it doesn't seem to be a metaphor. Why did you thought that it is? Also, literal translation for that would be "During the supplimentary semester in the rain season,". Removing about supplinentsry semester (보충수업 기간; although I'm not sure if semester is correct word for this) is understanderble since it can be referred, but still.
    – Hojin Cho
    Nov 15, 2020 at 22:02
  • It just confused me why "remedial lessons" wasn't part of the papago translation and like, I don't understand why it's attached to 장마철 with 의? Is it just that people get remedial lessons during 장마철? (also when I translated the next sentence it did become apparent that it isn't a metaphor). It would just make more sense to me to use 에 rather than 의?
    – flinkbisk
    Nov 15, 2020 at 22:09
  • 2
    Also for a bit of geographical background, 장마철의 보충수업 기간 probably means late June to early July, where in Korea has a season long rain (or, used to have before climate change) that almost continuously raining for a week or two. Before this is classified as early summer, low-high T typically 15C-25C with a moderate humidity. During and after this long rain is mid/late summer with 20C-30C with high humidity, and after the rain, blazing sun. This is why shoe-rack smells. They got drenched in the road and the water do not dry because of high humidity.
    – Hojin Cho
    Nov 15, 2020 at 22:13
  • 2
    So Korean school year has two (and a bit) semesters. Spring semester starts on March 2nd and ends mid-to-late-June. Fall semester starts on Sep 1st and ends mid-Dec. We have then a week-like season in mid Feb to move onto next school year. For this reason, we have relatively longer winter vacations in comparison to shorter summer one, and back in old days, even summer vacation isn't a vacation; you probably have to come to school mandatorily, to study in advance the next semester. It doesn't count as presence, but still you are expected to show up, and almost everybody show up.
    – Hojin Cho
    Nov 15, 2020 at 22:19
  • 2
    Sorry for lagging because I'm typing on a phone. It is grammatically wrong to use 에 here. The time is "remedial class season amidst the long rain" thus the 장마철 is decorating 보충수업 기간, acting as an adjective. In this case, 장마철 should be possessive, so 장마철-의 is correct. On the other hand, if it were 장마철-에, then 보충수업 기간 should be subject of the sentence otherwise it does not make sense. (Or 장마철에 could be followed by a verb) This is by the way one of the many things even natives get wrong a lot of times.
    – Hojin Cho
    Nov 15, 2020 at 22:30

1 Answer 1


I don't think it's a metaphor.

It informs you of the background of the story. It's 장마철, so it's summer's heavy rainy season, which is usually early August in Korea. 보충수업 means it's the School setting. The protagonist might be a teacher? or a student? Probably the teacher at the school's nursing office as it says from the title.

보충수업 기간 used to be typical for Korean students as they were required to come to school during the summer vacation to study. (It's like an extra summer programs in America)

신발장 냄새가 진동했다 --> To me, it gives an impression of very damp air. 신발장 at school are usually made of wood, which smells a lot when wet.

As a whole, it reminds me of my school days in summer back in the past.

So, it's more of an imagery + introduction with background information. Not metaphor to me.

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