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So…

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I started my week by offending a very nice and charming American girl whom I met by chance. I think she hid it well, but I clearly upset her. I did have a few drinks with her though and had a nice chance to catch a compliment from a drunk Korean girl who sat with us for about fifteen minutes and who kept apologising for not being able to speak English. That’s basically all she did though.

The next day, being Tuesday, I had my weekly meeting with the other teachers and the director.  As far as I can tell, these meetings only require my presence, not my active participation. In fact they don’t even require me to understand what is being said, being that they are mostly in Korean and what is said in Korean is not shared. So for a meeting that lasts for 60 minutes, about 15 minutes is in English. The funny thing is that things come up later that were allegedly referred to during these meetings that I should be aware of that I am not. Maybe that’s because the things were said in Korean…

There is definitely a difference between appearing to give a shit and giving a shit. Like most other places I have worked, it’s very important to be seen to do what one is meant to be doing and if you can been seen going beyond, then even better. As with everything else nowadays, it’s all about promotion.

So they expect us to get kids to memorise stuff for when we have open days, so that we appear to be a good school. During this meeting I learn that I am apparently required to sing a song at the beginning of every class and make class more interactive by using the school’s resources. As my English colleague argues with the director, I can see how things work. Once this dude has something in his head he is not going to change his mind and it’s necessary for people to stand down to sort of acknowledge him as a superior. My colleague argues for about 15 minutes and doesn’t get anywhere. All he wants is not to have to get kids memorise shit that doesn’t serve their learning in any way. With these kind of people I don’t fight bother fighting. Not in the obvious way anyway. I’m slowly learning that the best way to deal with these kind of people is to pay lip service to them, make them believe you’re in agreement with them and do whatever you feel is right depending on the situation. In this case, I am not going to sing, but I will try using props.

So after the meeting, I find myself hunting through several cabinets of unorganised junk that teachers have kept over the years, and find a laminated Pedobear. I pause and very seriously consider using Pedobear as a mascot for my classes. I could see this working very well and giving me something to have fun with secretly. I went as far as to search the internet for a t-shirt and almost bought a full-size outfit if not for the cost.

I am told by my student that the word for pervert is byuntae, although I they were calling one of their classmates, and not me, a pervert after he started to randomly strip in class. It seemed to be the theme of my week…

The main event of the week was having the school photos taken. I had guessed I’d just be in one main one with all the students and all the staff. As it happened, I had a lovely opportunity to get a little closer. I was made to sit on a stool and have them sit one by one on my lap and forced to put one of my hands on one of their hands and my other hand on their opposing shoulder. I’m assuming this is to prevent them from trying to escape. These photos are unlikely to turn out to be any good; I was making a very uneasy smile in each photo. The photographer kept asking me to get closer. It did not feel right.

I should be used to it by now though. I get poked up up the arse crack and hit in the balls on a daily basis now.

Yesterday, I went out for dinner with some people. Dinner in most places seems to be less than £10, but more often than not is closer to less than £5.00. I really cannot complain about the cost of living, especially food, as I couldn’t even cook a proper meal for less than £3.00 in the UK. Here I can eat a fairly decent meal for less than £5.00 and it’s good food- not junk food. A friend tells me that it’s not a matter of it being cheap, it’s just the price it’s meant to be.

So we decided on a novelty dish of nakji, or raw octopus. It’s wet, uncooked, only just dead, and is still squirming. It’s vile. I want to and need to do this.

Given that this is Korea, there are no knives and forks, only chopsticks. As I picked up the first piece, it slid up the chopsticks, wriggling. I struggled to dip the bastard in sesame oil, before getting my first taste. It really didn’t taste of anything and was beyond rubbery. A few mouthfuls later, one of the pieces suctions itself onto the inside of my cheek. I had thought that it would be easier and I’d manage it fine. I wasn’t really enjoying it, but the drink helped quite a lot. Having had as much as I could manage, and a few drinks later, I got a bottle soju spilled all over my trousers. Being that we were at an Asian dinner table, I was sitting on a cushion on the floor and I got completely soaked. The upside was having a girl help me out drying my trousers- a byuntae activity that I am more comfortable with.

I got back home feeling slightly drunk, but generally all right, so I jump in bed and doze off to Shaolin Wooden Men. I woke up an hour later with a horrid feeling, ran to the bathroom and was violently sick. It was definitely the octopus; I could feel it wriggle about before I was sick. It’s worth saying that I had been waiting for a long time to I eat an almost living thing. Now I am regretting it. Of course, I could never do this kind of thing in the UK, so I’m glad I did it. Next time I will have dog. The RSCPA can suck on my balls. Nothing’s gonna stop me. No matter what.

READ MORE KOREAN DISPATCHES: ONETWOTHREEFOURFIVESIX,SEVEN

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