Everyone knows I love Korean food, and I know my way around it pretty well by now. Today, we will have not one, but two group meals with all of the teachers. Well. The first one doesn't really count, because it's with only the English teachers, and my co-teachers know better than to treat me like a child. But the second one will be my fifth meal with the other teachers this week, and I fear I really might lose my cool.
The female teachers who don't speak English, and therefore can only interact with me on the level of me being a child in their language, simply cannot leave me alone while I'm eating. They correct the way I'm sitting, assuming that they know a more comfortable way for me to do so, that I haven't thought of yet. They fill my plate with meat that I would really prefer to choose for myself off of the fire. They take turns pointing at various side dishes, insisting that I take a bite of this or that particular one right this very second, while they watch me chew and then ask me what I think of it. You should eat this now. You should eat that now. You should sit like this. You should take a drink of this. You should put your plate here. You should move your rice there. You should put this sauce on this food and this leaf around this meat.
It's important to stress that these are not just suggestions. I've grown accustomed to keeping up a constant muttering stream of, "네....네.... 네....네...." while I'm eating, but if you don't do what they've just suggested, they will continue to insist on it and (presumably assuming you haven't understood them correctly) eventually start putting their hands on you, physically moving you into position to do whatever it is they've just decided you should do themselves.
God knows it all comes out of a kind of motherly affection, even if it does assume a kind of idiocy that's a bit offensive. It's mostly harmless, and I can endure it with a sort of detached amusement most of the time. The one exception is breakfast meals, which I go out of my way to avoid with the other teachers, inventing all kinds of excuses, because someone pushing me around and touching me after I've just woken up and before I've had coffee really doesn't go over well.
But. As I said, this will be the fifth time this week already. I'll say a prayer for patience and hope the food is worth it.