I reveal the secret of my 페트라 signature

Actually, it’s pretty unspectacular. I sign my pictures with the simple word Petra, which is my name. But what is this scribble? a friend asked me the other day. Those are Korean characters. When I did a study abroad in Seoul in 2001, the first thing I learned was the alphabet, which was really fast because the letters are pretty much the same logic as the German alphabet.

Using PETRA as an example:


ㅍ corresponds to P

ㅔcorresponds to E

ㅌ corresponds to T

ㅡ corresponds to a vowel that is pronounced (here) only as a breath

ㄹ corresponds to L and replaces the R, which does not occur in the Korean alphabet.

ㅏ corresponds to A

Korean letters are composed in square syllables with 2-3 letters each: Here there is the rule that there must always be a consonant at the beginning, followed by a vowel. Therefore, the 트 syllable still needs an intermediate vowel, since there are no consecutive consonants within a syllable.

While I could read Korean very quickly (to this day, by the way), the foreign grammar and the many vocabulary words inflated by countless polite forms didn’t quite want to stick in my brain. At the end of nine months, I was able to get by somewhat with a basic vocabulary in the Korean hinterland (where really no one could speak English). But since I’m not that “language guy”, I let go of learning Korean after a good year and “my Korean” gradually fizzled out.

While I don’t have much of the language left today, I am still in possession of a personal Dojang stone stamp that I had made in a busy Seoul neighborhood back in the day. One day I decided to put a seal on a watercolor drawing … However, I didn’t really do well with the stone stamp on the heavily textured watercolor paper and eventually got used to writing 페트라 as a normal signature on my works. And so it has remained until today.