Asians are tiny. There is just no other way to explain it. They are, for the most part, short people with skinny legs and narrow hips. When most white people move to Korea, they realize that the clothes they brought along are the only thing that they’ll fit in for the length of their stay. For white people who shop in Korea, the pants sold are too short, the bras are too tiny, and the largest shoes will fit snugly.
Occasionally a foreigner will find a sweater or t-shirt that seems as if it may fit. These people are often told by a shop owner “no,” when they try to purchase the item. White people are rarely allowed to try on clothes, which could be because Koreans think we’ll stretch out the clothes, or stink up the armpits (Koreans don’t have stinky pits, and deodorant baffles them), or both.
Summer colds are awful. And trying to teach with a cold is one of the most wretched things, too. So when I wound up coughing myself to tears mid August, I simultaneously became one of the worst teachers.
I spent the entire week mostly sitting at my desk and occasionally croaking at different children to read certain pages. When I had to stand, I did it like I had old bones beneath my skin. I continuously spaced out throughout my classes. And then I fucked up hangman.
Every country has their old wives tales. I’m a gullible person, so it takes constant effort for me to distinguish between truth and fiction.
When a Korean told me that a cultural norm was for grandmothers to go into their pre-teen grandson’s bedrooms in the night and jack them off, I was stunned. In the year in a half I’ve been in Korea, there’s only one other foreigner I’ve meet who has heard of this. So it’s an easy rumor to write off as fake.
There are, of course, truths that seem like myths. For example, many Koreans believe in Fan Death. This means that if someone sleeps with a fan on in a room with closed doors and windows, they will die in the night.
The westernization of Asia was never as obvious to me as it was when I attended a Korean wedding. I’d been invited to attend my coworker’s wedding, and I was excited to experience Korean tradition and touched to be included.
I expected to be overwhelmed by a cultural difference, but in reality, all I saw was a nearly American event with some odd variations.
“Teacher, how do you spell ‘tambourine’?” AJ asked me.
“What do you think?”
I wrote the letters as he said them. “Close!” I said, adding a ‘u’. “Tambourine is a tricky word. What are you writing about?”
“I like to play the tambourine in a nori bong.”
1. Beating sticks
*the bottom of a teacher’s stick*
Corporal punishment is common in Korean schools. Bosses participate in it and some parents even call in and encourage it.
I’d heard that this was the case in Korea, but at my academy the worst I saw was teachers making students stand with their arms up for a long time, or hold a stack of books. I got into it a little, occasionally flicking the foreheads of students who didn’t do their homework. I have a weak flick, and it’s a common penalty for losing in rock-scissors-paper, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.
However, public schools seemed to be a little more hardcore.
Everybody knew about him. He liked to roam downtown late at night and expose his genitals to foreign girls. Some friends of mine even saw him jerking off one night. The last I’d heard of him was when a local hopkido teacher, Master Sim, caught him and made a citizen’s arrest.
I hadn’t given him much thought after that. But nearly a year later, I became one of the many other girls whose eyes were assaulted by his nude Korean junk.