Category Archives: Weird

Walk Like a Korean

A well known ‘problem’ foreigners have in Korea is predicting at what speed and in which direction a Korean is going to walk near you on the street. They are notoriously erratic in their travel from A to B and one must always be wary. I have become mostly numb to this specific issue (except for the occasional krazy who walks AT me at Home Plus).* But that is because all my anger is used up in another daily Korea walking conflict: Getting from Office to Cafeteria.

See, this can never happen in a normal manner and it never ceases to enrage me. I’ve wanted to write about these ten minutes for a long time because it is a daily fight. But it makes me so mad that I can actually feel my blood pressure rise and I don’t know how to write it nicely. The best I can do is present the situation factually and reflect on each part. Continue reading

Enlightened

Well, I’ve been walking past an ad for this:

Careful, this might kill you.

for a few months now. Looking at it has made me cringe many times. I simply could not fathom what it was, and hanging in a Lotteria window, I was extra afraid. Duk, cornflakes, beans..milk…? Whaaatttt? Continue reading

Passion for Pashion

Korea is obsessed with fashion (known here as “pashion”). There’s an entire Style Channel devoted to America’s Next Top Model, Korea’s Next Top Model, Project Runway, Korean Project Runway. Like fashion itself, Korea is all about Western imitation. Which is why clothes with “English” words scrawled all over them are especially popular.

As a native English speaker walking around Korea or chillin’ in your classroom, you see a lot of this:

Courtesy of Amanda M.

Shirts with English (sometimes Konglish). The English is invariably mispelled, misused, and/or completely misunderstood. Sometimes the English is all correct, but the idea is totally bizarre (see above). Most of the time it’s really funny stuff. Occasionally it’s offensive, but the person wearing it doesn’t actually know what they’re wearing, so it’s still comical.

Lately I’ve been trying to keep a record of these crazyass shirts. It’s challenging though because you can’t very well take a picture. The whole ‘must save face’ thing would come into play if you suggested to a Korean that their English shirt was wronginteresting enough to document; they’d melt into a big mortified puddle. So instead I’ve tried to write a few down and recapture them for your viewing pleasure via Microsoft Paint. Continue reading

Shame Search Illustrated

Writing this blog has been an extremely rewarding experience for so many reasons, but the most unexpected has been the daily results of Search Engine Terms. On WordPress you can see what kinds of searches lead someone to your blog and how many views you get from it. Some of our top hits are “beard”, “karaoke” and “chihuahua”. A few pretty obscure phrases have worked their way in, like “hyperbola magick” and “pissing on new beligum”. But about once a week there is a super crazy, totally ridiculous, GOD I WANT TO KNOW WHAT THEY WERE ACTUALLY LOOKING FOR AND WHY term that appears on the list.

We have decided to share a few of these choice phrases with you in the form of silly cartoons. Don’t think about these too hard.

"choke dat hoe"

"swiss cheese on toilet"

"big cock n balls cut off with scissors"

Update: Englishee

Remember this: Englishee? Erin’s awesome analysis of the comicality that is the Korean English Notebook?

B) Something must be smiling. Not a person. Photoshop as necessary

I’ve scared up a few more notebooks to add to the collection. Continue reading

First I Was All…But Then I Was Like…

Vacations – they’re the greatest, right? You leap into a distant time zone, reset the wristwatch, listen to the strange but beautiful language, smell the air, taste the food, make out with the locals, sample the music, note how the light is just a little bit different at sunrise and how people dress just left of how they do back home.

And then you’re on a plane again with a camera full o’ memories and at least two months’ worth of dinner conversation. “Oh you simply must summer in Sardinia, Geoffrey, it’s divine that time of year! And the natives do the most darling thing with cheese…

Ah, glossy candy-coated travel memories! Like this:

Geoffrey, I’m telling you, you’ve never even seen a chin until you’ve seen his chin.

Immigration – now that’s a whole different bag. You get Vacation Wonder for a few weeks, a couple months if your lucky. Then things starts to look like this:

Ugh. Nobody cares about your gross exposed musculature anymore, Korea.
Ugh. Nobody cares about your gross exposed musculature anymore, Korea.

So that’s where we’re at. 7 months in, and the shine has worn off. I still love teaching and my students and stuff. But nothing is….weird anymore.  Which is sort of the whole point of me being here. Everything has settled and I find myself back at Normal. I hate Normal. I flee Normal by doing things like moving to Korea. And yet stupid Normal finds me. Everything is boring and I hate it.

Even worse than being discovered by Normal, though, is that I’m getting close to dropping the Polite Foreigner Act all together. Things driving me to an American outburst include the following: The from-the-depths-of-your-rotten-lungs spitting; the trend of getting off an escalator/stepping into a doorway and then stopping as if you don’t know the people behind you are on an irrevocable crash course towards your ass; walking up to me to look into my shopping basket; getting asked if I’m Russian (that is, a prostitute)…

I hesitate to go on; nobody likes a whiner. But I think maybe it was this, that tipped the scales against Korea:

The old man that changed everything.

Obviously the most comfortable place to sit on a bus is between my legs, slowly settling in against my junk as we ride merrily down the mountainside. Because there is nothing uncomfortable about this at all. You’re bumming me out Korea. You’re bumming me out.

Great Lengths

I don’t envy the men and women locked in a conference room somewhere tasked with creating the national English curriculum of Korea. What an impossibly crappy job that must be. “We must have more singing! More chanting! More games with finger puppets!”

The same people responsible for subtly suggesting Hitler youth-dom to 4th graders

Last semester, being the doe-eyed baby teacher that I was, I felt bad criticizing the tools I was given with which to teach. But they were lacking. The books were weak, the lesson material questionable (Does any native English speaker say “See you again”? And isn’t “So long” a little…antique to be teaching a bunch of 12 year olds?) and above all, this was BORING.

The audio and video clips accompanying every lesson were low-budget nightmares, fraught with speech impediment-ridden child actors (we’re only trying to teach a language here, Casting Director), and cartoonish voice overs. A few of my favorites examples:

And now, taking the Creeper Cake:

Imagine how well that went over with jaded sixth graders. (PS: You can see the complete top ten list of worst videos here.)

I thought I had it bad. I thought the methods thrust upon me to teach English weak. But never, NEVER could I have imagined something as profoundly embarrassing, degrading and STUNNING as this:

(Many thanks to Megan and the Gwangju crew for introducing all of these videos to me!)