Friday Formspring.

I love studying other languages... and I usually end up finding a particular word or expresion that I especially love or find poetic. Are there any Korean words or expressions that you really like?

I'm not really on the expressions level yet, I guess. I still get caught up with individual words. Right now my favorite thing to say is "꺼져!", which is kind of something like, "Get off me!" or "Go away!" Not really poetic. The other one that's on my mind right now is 포기하다 -- to give up. The truth is, I'm a pretty simple-minded person, and I'll get way more fixated on a certain word for no particular reason than on an entire expression.

What do you think the average age of English teachers are in Korea? I am 27 and working as a Korean linguist for the US Army. By the time I get out and finish my BA I will be almost 30. Do you foresee any problems starting at 30?

I don't have a clue what the average age is, but I can say with confidence that you should have no problem whatsoever starting at 30. People like to claim that Koreans only want to hire young, inexperienced foreign teachers, but I think that's pretty much baloney, from what I've seen. Sure, some places may opt for a younger foreign teacher. But for every one of those, there's one that has had a bad experience with some kid straight out of unversity who had no idea what was going on, and had not experienced Life back in their home country, let alone in a foreign one, and would prefer not to ever go down that road again. Don't even worry about it.

Do you like MASH?

Haha. It's alright. My ma used to watch it when I was a kid. You know, it's a pretty fucking sexist show actually. Like... painfully sexist. I kind of cringe when I try to watch it, even though I don't like being "that kind" of feminist. I can read the Beats. I can listen to Southern rock. I can appreciate those things without getting up in arms about how terribly embarrassing a lot of those men's views toward women were. But MASH kind of does me in a bit. I find it hard to concentrate.

I saw you'd posted and then deleted it, but I know what you mean re: Korean guys taking things to a ridiculous Kdrama level, especially when it comes to dating foreigners. It seems like they move in with people super quickly, tell them they love them... it's weird. I wonder if they treat Koreans the same way or if it's just foreigners. Even gay Koreans treat Western guys this way, or so the experiences of my gay friends have led me to believe.

Yeah. I did delete it, because it mostly was just a bit of a mini-rant with no real content. I just wonder if it's something that the oddballs who date foreigners do, because they're.... odd. Which, not that all Koreans who date foreigners are odd. But there is a certain kind of Korean, I've noticed, who doesn't really jive within Korean society and seeks out foreigners as companions/dating partners, reasoning that things will be different there. In some cases, they're right -- they just have more Western sensibilities. In other cases, they don't fit in with Korean society not because it's Korean but because.... well, they wouldn't exactly fit in in the West either. Not to mention the attention seekers, who date foreigners not because Koreans who date foreigners are attention seekers, but because if you want to draw attention to yourself in Korea, dating a foreigner is one of a myriad good ways to go about it.

Um. What? Oh yeah. I don't know. It seems to me to be mostly a delayed adolescence kind of thing, honestly. Almost everytime I've heard of a Korean busting in on their foreign S.O.'s living situation and setting up a little instant domestic partnership, it's been because they've quarreled with their parents and are essentially sticking it to them. Which, you know, every other week another one of my students informs me that they are "never going home again". It seems to be a thing here. And all the drama and huge declarations of love and so on and so forth ... that's something we all go through as well, in the West (well, save for me... obviously I've never been involved in such nonsense) -- just at a much younger age.

Who knows. I can't be doing with it anymore, to be honest. Just like I can't be doing with 3am sobbing phone calls and hysterics about things that could possibly be gigantic fabricated lies just to get me to answer the phone. My recommendation is to stay away from Korean partners under the age of 26, if you don't want a whole boatload of what we consider high school behavior coming right on along with that pretty little face.

What's the magic number?


When are you gonna get an upgrade on your apartment?

I don't know if this was intended to seem creepy or not, but it kind of is. What have I... have you seen my apartment? I don't particularly feel that it needs to be upgraded, and I certainly don't feel that my school owes it to me. I'm just happy not to be in an offic... one of those one room things I can never pronounce the name of. And I love and am familiar with my neighborhood. Know all the store clerks and have a working relationship with them. Not too far from the train or buses, not too far from my school. Close to the mountain if I should ever wake up some morning and decide I need to experience that (ha). The plumbing has been giving me nightmares for as long as I can remember, and there's a pretty distinct combo kimchi cooking/sewerish smell that can get a little out of hand at times during the summer months, but it's not too bad. I've certainly lived in worse.

Have you seen any live bands in korea?

I saw the RockTigers once. They were alright. These days I'm kind of and old fogey about live shows. Or I just got really spoiled by living in NYC. I'm not really sure. But any old thing isn't really going to do it for me. I've see loads of foreigners rave on and on about the RockTigers. I don't know if they've never seen live music before, or are just happy to see something going on here in Korea, but I honestly wasn't really that impressed. Bands are one of those things I can get really snotty about. Like, really really snotty. So I'm probably not the best person to ask about this.

What are your favourite places in Incheon/Korea?

This is going to sound super-duper lame, but honestly, my neighborhood. It's a little smalltownish, but close enough to everything one might need. There are streets lined with market goods and produce vendors all over the damn place. The old people hang out around the car parks playing Go-Stop in the shade and chatting. Kids running around shrieking and riding bikes. It's a great place to just wander around all afternoon, feeling at home. Doing the shopping, stopping to chat with this or that ajeosshi or ajumma or student or student's parent or adorable random little kid. A boatload of tiny grubby little hofs. Lots of restaurants. And we even got our second coffee shop, just two months ago. The watermelon truck guys give me free samples in the summer. The street food cart women shove sticks of spicy orange things into my hands as I pass them on the sidewalk. The coffee shop owner calls out my drink as soon as she sees the door open in front of me. The 편의점 lady lets me play with her grandbaby.

This is why no one ever sees me anymore. I basically almost refuse to leave my neighborhood these days. That having been said, when I do get into Seoul, I usually go in the earlier mornings and coffee shops are usually the target. Hongdae is obviously great for this (I really love Hongdae in the quiet early mornings), plus there's the park if you want to sit outside. Sinchon, occasionally Myeongdong, but honestly Myeongdong is usually too much for me. Namdaemun has the great art shops and is good for a stroll. I can usually be found in those three places, if I'm in Seoul.

All-Time favourite movie quote?

I don't really do favorites. Too difficult and basically I think they're almost always false statements, from the second they are uttered. But here's one that's been on my mind lately:

It's all happening....

1 comment:

Chris in South Korea said...

Great series - keep up the good work.

Average age? It's gotten a bit older of recent, as fewer newbies have come in and more older people are sticking around. It's still pretty young, though - at 28 I suspect I'm just older than average. 30 is the new 25, though - and unless you look 30 you shouldn't have a problem.