Tag Archives: Korea

The escape from Korea

For some, writing rage/rant blogs works to preserve their sanity. Having some keys to mash on helps them deal with the pains of _____. Doing so is cathartic. For me, I’ve found that raging just means I have to love through the pain once more. It’s not cathartic, it’s torturous.

But I suppose this needs telling…

I wrote “The Chattering Vortex of Apathy” a year ago and posted it 9 months ago. Things got worse…just after I made that post, in fact. A Bible-thumping main coteacher made a powerplay and forced me to transfer schools, so I moved and got thrown in with three coteachers who were just out of college. Two were okay, but the other one only communicated via Post-Its with me. Our desks were next to each other and she was my main coteacher. Frustration ensued. Most of what I said about classes “not being interesting” came true.

 left in February. Mid-contract. Couldn’t bear the mental strain anymore. Lady Buckeye and I had split up in October (amicably) and that combined with the idiocy of Korean schools had me thinking my time was finished in the country. Just getting through the day was difficult enough. I was wrecked.


Rant from 31 March: The chattering vortex of apathy

I wrote this several months ago about my high school 2nd graders, to they stayed the same all semester. More on that later.

There are days when I have to wonder just what I’m doing here. What, if any, utility do I have for the kids besides being another 50 minute block of time to get through. What, if anything, I can teach them when they’re too busy being sick, sleeping, or talking about who knows what. Two classes in a row. Slap happy or sleeping. That’s all it is. Monday morning and they’re carrying on like it’s the last day of school. Because that’s what it is. Every damned day is the first day and the last day for these kids. It’s the first day because they act perpetually dumbfounded about where they’re supposed to be or what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s the last day because they know my stuff isn’t on the exam and therefore isn’t worth listening to. They know that in 50 minutes, the bell will ring and they’ll have 10 minutes of nothingness and craziness before the next class begins…so they can continue dozing or yammering.

They’re 17 damned years old. They’ve been in school for over 10 years, yet some have yet to master the first principle of school: LISTEN.

Was today’s lesson difficult? Well, maybe. I don’t know. Asking them about inventions or important inventions doesn’t seem that hard, not when enough of the students can (in a few words at least) explain why Facebook or Twitter is important. And for them to draw up an invention? Sheesh. Draw something–anything–present it in a few words or phrases. Move on.

My coteacher does her best to translate, but even she thinks its difficult. Maybe she’s right. I don’t know. Plenty of middle and high school lessons were difficult, but I got through them. Everyone else did too. There is no learning without thinking. There is no progress without some difficulty. It goes with the territory.

Maybe she’s right. I’ll try going with the words, phrases, and idioms list she has. Maybe, just maybe, it’ll work. I doubt lecturing for 50 minutes will do a damned thing to improve their speaking, but that’s not what this is about, is it? No, it’s Korea, where everything is about tests and memorizing stuff for tests. It doesn’t matter that some can barely write their own names, but I’m supposed to explain what “Evolve” means. Well hell. And getting them to write stuff down? Forget it. It’s been 2 years and it ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS takes them 5 bloody minutes to write their names and the dates on their papers…EVEN IF they know their names and the dates and page numbers are WRITTEN ON THE BOARD. Yeah, I have to do the thinking for them because despite their advanced teenage years, they all seem incapable of doing ANYTHING independently–aside from going to the mart next to the school, that is. Oh, they KNOW how to walk to the mart and buy ice cream.

And bloody hell. I sent her the damned PPT on Friday afternoon. She has my email address and my phone number for phone messages. If the PPT was that bad, she could’ve told me and I would’ve fixed it over the weekend. The problem is, that didn’t happen. No, she tells me AFTER we’ve done the first two classes. So now I’ve got to draw up something completely new for the last class. That and do the middle school stuff for tomorrow. And the midde school stuff for Thursday. Sure, that’s all SOP, but this is nuts.

Funny how the kids say class is a waste of time when they’re the same ones who spend the time joking and, well, not paying attention. It’s IMPOSSIBLE for something to be a waste of time that way, but to them, it is.

And therein lies the Catch-22 of teaching here: I’m supposed to make the lessons interesting, but the MOMENT I have them do any actual work or do any thinking, they become “too difficult,” which means they must yammer incessantly about who knows what, because all of that’s certainly preferable to actually DOING THE FRAKKING WORK. How can I POSSIBLY make an interesting lesson this way? The EPIK gospel is “If the lesson’s interesting, then you’ll have no problems?” Oh yeah? What about the kids who don’t give a damn? What about the sick kids that cough all hour? What if they don’t want to be interested out of spite? And yes, I’m convinced it IS spite for some of them. Why not? They’ve nothing to lose. They can bitch about me, give me a bad eval, and have me fired. They’re part of THAT equation. Once I get fired, another person comes in…who they can continue tormenting. I’m starting to wonder if that’s indeed the case here.

Interesting classes require thinking. Something isn’t interesting if it doesn’t brook any thought, yet telling them what to do removes all thinking from the equation.

South Korea’s all about dinner porn | GlobalPost


Gluttony + selfies + Internet addiction +  self-obsession + attention whoring: Broadcasting videos of yourself eating mounds of food. This is the logical next step beyond Instagram, instant  messaging and Man Vs Food; and it’s sickening . And interestingly enough, it isn’t just men doing it: A cute-for-today young woman calling herself The Diva has gotten on on this,  and I can only thank feminism for doing so. Thanks.

there’s an on-going trend of referring to women (especially little girls) as “princess”. personally it makes me shudder when i hear a little girl being called a princess. when a girl hears this often at such a young age fosters a huge sense of entitlement.
– Dannyfrom504, “The Princess vs The Angel

Danny’s recent post brought back a couple memories from my first few months over here:

1. A Korean-American buddy saying, “Buckeye, Korean girls are similar to American girls in that many have the princess mentality.”

2. This exchange from with a 1st grade HS girl during class:

Upon seeing another girl’s pencil case with the Disney princesses on it (and the word princess) I said, “Oh no…don’t be a princess.” I’d said it to no one in particular, but one girl, whose English was quite good, perked up on hearing it and gave me a puzzled look. I said to her, “So many American girls want to be the princess.”

She nodded and considered this for a moment. She was searching for the best expression.

“But… they can’t be,” she said.

Just so, I thought. She had the right of it. They can’t be princesses because they’re ordinary girls in an ordinary small town. They aren’t royalty. And yet, like Danny explains, many of us love to foist the “Princess” labels upon girls as if it’s something they need to be.

In the time I’ve spent over here, I’ve encountered many princess types, but more have been like Soo-young above, who understand that as pretty as they be and as virtuous as they may act, they’ll never be princesses.

Diligently arriving early to do nothing

A miracle happened this morning. It was something neither myself not my corrected could have foreseen: Everyone including the kid I’ve dubbed Hangover Boy arrived on time with materials in hand. In fact, many arrived so.earlier that I forgot that class didn’t officially start for two minutes at one point. What is the reason for this miraculous event?

A study hall.

A study hall that half of them did not know about, judging from their reaction to my announcement. This week’s the dreaded Week Before the Exams, wherein the students have a collective 멘붕 over their upcoming tests and proceed to conquer their fears of low grades by doing naught but bitching.

Before me sits the vaunted Korean studying machine, a machine fueled by Kakao talk, entitlement, and ramyeon. They showed up to moan and mash buttons with religious fervor because doing so
‘s easier than learning the stuff they complain about not knowing. Whatever. I’m just glad they’re awake.

The Korean Coffee Shop Experience

This has been my experience as well. Coffee shops are more for love lorn couples to imitate their favorite dramas or be alone together with their smart phones. This picture brought to mind a couple I saw in Uijeongbu. Fully half of their “date” looked like the picture and the other half was the two of them doing stuff with their smart phones. Sometimes they messaged by themselves and sometimes he showed her stuff on his iPad, but the phones were in use at every instant. Even as I write this, I’m at a cafe with my neighbor and we’re both plugging away on our respective blogs while surrounded by couples who depend on their phones for conversation. I have to wonder, does the man’s plan actually call for “sitting in a coffee shop and clicking on various Internet links to comment on,” or something similar? With all the emphasis the youth attach to coupledom over here, not too many look like they’re actually enjoying themselves beyond what they can about with their phones.