Monthly Archives: April 2008

American Candy

A brief flash of puzzled astonishment crossed my face as 15 hands shot into the air out of nowhere. Behold, the power of a strawberry jolly rancher.

It was not but 10 seconds prior that a lone girl sheepishly raised her hand to tell me simply “I can swim.” No one else wanted to answer the question “what can you do?” As a prize for her bravery, against such odds, the girl was awarded a strawberry jolly rancher. It incited near pandemonium. The classroom tried to buzz with excitement. Except, the young Korean students could not pronounce Z’s, so instead they bujjed with excitement.

I never liked jolly ranchers. As a child, I wouldn’t have raised my hand for anything less than a Reeses Cup. These Korean Students are a different breed.

They fiend for candy the way a vampire fiends for blood. The way they barrage my desk at the end of class, hands outstretched repeating the phrase “candy, please!” borders less on desire than it does on an insatiable thirst. Something genetic perhaps?

A memory of a 10 year old me training my first puppy comes to mind. Dog treats to sit, stay and SPEAK on command. A sadistic thought. Could these kids potentially balance a jolly rancher on their nose?

Perhaps, I could throw it to them so that they could catch it in their mouths. Maybe I could tie their wrists together, with the candy between, and let them fight till the other is left in a heaping pile on the ground in a stupendous display of Darwinian justice. Classroom motivator or my own personal death match? What exactly is the best purpose of candy in the classroom, I wonder.

I remember a story, translated to me over soju and salted beef. It was told by one of the elderly male teachers at my school about his early life, when the Korean War was not yet in history books. As the Americans came to defend the South they brought with them guns, money, and candy. Werthers Originals, I imagine. The task of the boys old enough to leave home on their own, yet too young to have real responsibility, was to follow American jeeps, hands outstretched, and begging for candy. Little did they know Werthers Originals sucked.

As the brief flash of puzzled astonishment leaves my face at the 15 hands, I can’t help but laugh to myself. A metaphor lingers here, I just know it. Fifty years have passed and still Korean Kids are running after the Americans crying out “Candy, Please.”

A strange man dressed as manbearpig passes out candy to students during lunch.  Not a single teacher I asked knew who he was.  This was considrerd completely fine.

(A strange man dressed as manbearpig passes out candy to students during lunch. Not a single teacher I asked knew who he was. This was considererd completely fine.)



Filed under Culture, Education, Narratives, The foreigner experience, Videos

A completely scientific breakdown of Korean cartoon dinosaurs from the 80’s vs. American cartoon dinosaurs of the 80’s

You know, when you get down to it Korea really isn’t that different from the United States. Case in point: Dooley the Dinosaur.

I’d post the video directly here, but I can’t figure out how to embed videos that don’t involve the words “you” and “tube.” So for the time being check out Dooley the Dinosaur here.

If you’re too lazy to click on the link then let me tell you about him. Dooley, as close as I can figure is a baby Brontosaurus. However, he does not exhibit any Brontosaurus traits such as a long neck or being really really big. Additionally, Dooley has special magic powers. How did he get them you ask?

Peanut Butter and Crack.

Dooley Special powers include, but are not limited to: Flying, time travel, pointing his finger and creating unicorns out of thin air.

Dooley has a special friend with a big red nose. The friend with a red nose is from outer space (says Rachel) and has a magic flying broom.

This reminds me of my favorite, modern American dinosaur “Denver the Last Dinosaur.”

Like Dooley, Denver can also time travel with the assistance of an ancient rock. Denver could also play guitar and skateboard. Denver is totally, more radical than Dooley.

The mathematical equation for Denver’s awesomeness looks something like this:

Denver > Dooley

That’s math. Math = Fact.

I told Rachel about Denver the Last Dinosaur, to which she replied “yes, that’s much more scientific.”

In case you forgot, here is a Youtube video of Denver.

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Filed under Things to Entertain You, Videos

It’s smart being this hard…or something like that

It’s routine of every foreigner in Korea to make fun of the Korean way of speaking English.  The name of this speaking style is referred to as “Konglish.”  If you look it up on google you’ll get some fun examples.  I also suggest, although that is not strictly limited to the Korean language.

The reciprocal form of this I would call “Engilmal.”  It’s “English” + “Yongomal,” the Korean word for English.  It’s when I try to speak Korean, but screw up because the English language is based on over pronunciation of words, and Asian languages are based more on slight variations of sounds.

Example:  “Dahk Dahk Hae Yo” vs. “Dohk Dohk Hae Yo”

To read those in English, you won’t really get a sense of how they sound, because there exists no English letter that perfectly matches the pronunciation.  Let’s just say the pronunciations are really, really similar.

(I apologize for my computer not having Korean symbols…you couldn’t read them anyways)

Anyways, today in my class I tried to tell my class I was Dohk Dohk Hae Yo (smart).  Instead I mispronounced it Dahk Dahk Hae Yo (hard).

So, in my 3rd hour 6th grade class I told them, very boldly “Matthew teacher is very, very hard.”

Even 6th grader brought up in a society where sex is never taught or talked about (not even by parents) understood the unintended meaning of that sentence.

Classroom order was never restored.

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Filed under Education, Narratives, The foreigner experience, Things to Entertain You

Hey there have you heard about my robot friend?

Korean music videos generally fall under one of two categories:

Incredibly Silly

Unnecessarily Sad

The unnecessarily sad thing is something I’m gonna talk about in some later posts when I get out of my current “I don’t feel like writing” funk. (oddly enough, I have more ideas for posts than I’ve had all year…not sure what that means)

Anyways, last night I was procrastinating some work when I stumbled upon this video. I thought out of all the videos I had seen this one captured the true essence of Koreans videos. I have seen no other video, so far, that exemplifies the Korean video obsession with sadness while being so incredibly absurd at the same time.  Best of both worlds.

Now, I warn you: I hate this actual song. So instead I suggest turning down the volume on that video and playing this one on repeat. It’s really not that sad anymore.

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Filed under Culture, Korean MTV, Videos

Still Obsessed With Korean MTV

Korean Pop, or K-pop to those in the know (that would now be you) is a musical juggernaut when it comes to Asia. They make no lies to themselves about copying the American Music Industry, but they keep out the turbo sex charged videos that would turn off many consumers in countries based around old world traditions. I admire their honesty.

Additionally, since Korea is pretty much the one East Asian country that has money AND hasn’t tried to invade the rest of Asia (sorry China/Japan) it’s easy for their music to cross into other countries markets.

Anyways, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Korean MTV update. Here you go…

Big Bang – Last Farewell

Holy Crap, I hate Big Bang so much I think they might be the first Korean album I actually buy. It’s either that or taking a drill to my head to try and take the songs out the good ol’ Medieval way.

Either way, you have to respect a video that involves driving with sunglasses at night. German girls love that song.

Monday Kiz – Inside Story

Follow the story of the killer rubics cube. At least I think that’s what is making everybody sick. This video just once again proves something I’ve long suspicioned, and that is “I don’t understand Korean music videos.” The beats kind of catchy though.

Jang Woo Hyuk – Sun that Never Sets

Kind of an old video, but I post it for those who were ever asked the question “what would the Black Eyed Peas sound like if they were Korean?”

hope this helps

Mc Sniper – Something in Korean

Nothing super special about this, but just a really addicting piano loop.

Rain – I’m Coming

Rain is more influential than Stephen Colbert, according to a Time 100 internet poll. I am not surprised though, when most Korean girls list their favorite activity as surfing the web, with their second favorite “finding a rich, handsome boyfriend” (in a study I don’t have the energy to link to right now).

Other then that this video is completely absurd. It’s not the cliche chorus about “It’s raining” or the war zone or the shots of people burning to death all around him during his 4 minute dance sequence…no, it’s the pelvic thrusts which, I must admit, have influenced me to sit farther back from my computer screen…so I guess that’s something Colbert has never done.

Dynamic Duo – Chul Check

I leave you with this video by Dynamic Duo. If you ever wanted a crash course in what Korean TV was like the parodies they do in this video are pretty spot on. From the English Teaching Channel to Old Man Chess Channel to The Painting Guy with an afro Channel. The only channel they’re missing is the “two computer geeks battle each other in war craft” channel, which is oddly entertaining by the way.

Expect a few more Korean MTV updates coming up.


Filed under Korean MTV, Videos

Recycling frightens me

For some reason South Koreans are known to be very good recyclers. I say “for some reason” because it seems that every street is littered with a fair amount of trash and cigarette butts. Sometimes I see people throw things onto the street and I am reminded of High School. A friend of mine would throw his empty lunch bags on the ground, when we complained he said “gives the janitors a job.” I can only assume a similar thought is going through the minds of my Korean counterparts.

I guess you could argue that littering is different than recycling. But that’s like arguing that Garden State was a good movie…in other words, I’m not listening.

Anyways, onto recycling. About this they are anal and retentive. I guess I should sort my trash and take it out in separate bags, so that the old women who walk around with the hand carts can easily pick up my trash.

(sidenote: yes, the trash collection system is a group of old women who may or may not be actually employed by the city. They might just be picking up trash for fun. I’ve never been clear on them.)

I never sort my trash. First off, I don’t have the space. Second, I guess I really just don’t know what constitutes recyclable goods anymore. I used to be glass with glass. But then it became green glass with green glass and number 2 cardboard with number 3 cardboard but not number 4 cardboard. They pretty much lost me at glass.

So instead, I find myself skulking about at night. Taking my trash out only after dark, when there will be less people to potentially see me improperly recycle.

But tonight, as I walked out of my apartment – carrying a large bag of unsorted waste, 3 multicolored glass bottles and a dunkin donuts box that I filled with broken Christmas lights – there stood the hand cart ajuma and she did not look happy to see me. What was I going to do? Was I going to pretend that all this garbage I was carrying was not garbage, but in fact valuable materials that I am transporting at 11 p.m?

I briefly thought about walking down an alleyway to deposit my trash elsewhere, but really I had been caught. Besides, I can’t speak Korean. Who knows what the hell she was saying to me.

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Filed under Culture, Narratives

Klogic Vs. Math

I thought math was supposed to be a strength of the Korean Education system.

I wondered what was taking her so long to put the students into pairs. Everything seemed so straight forward. But to my 5th grade co-teacher something just was not right.  Something needed to change.

So she moved a student here. She moved a student there, and still she couldn’t get the pairs correct. She rearranged pairs, looked at the class with her hands on her hips, sighed.

I was becoming tired of this.

Guess how long it took her to realize there were only 25 students in the class.


For more fun with Klogic check out

Debunking the klogic myth.

Amanda has a few good ones

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Filed under Culture, Education, Narratives, The foreigner experience