Formspring: How's Minwoo?

how's minwoo now? Shucks i love that kid

I've got a bunch of questions waiting to be answered, but I thought it was funny that someone should ask this one today. All's been quiet on the Minwoo front for a while, and I haven't seen too much of him recently, thanks to scheduling issues and the fact that work has been particularly busy lately, and I haven't been straying far from the office, other than to teach classes.

There's some stuff going on right now that concerns Minwoo, but it would be impossible to explain without introducing two other students: Daeseok and Seunghyeok.

Daeseok is a student I've always been fond of. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was younger. Daeseok comes from a poor family and every morning he comes to school hours before the first class begins, so that the other students don't find out where he lives (in the mountains). He's prone to skipping classes, but he never, ever causes trouble when he's in them. He doesn't sleep (although he's not always exactly engaged) and he's never been disrespectful.

Seunghyeok is our Jjang. I haven't talked about him much because I don't know much about him. Being the Jjang, he pretty much knows better than to engage in the usual nonsense that keeps the other boys from the Jjang Crew all tied up in the teacher's offices for hours on end being lectured and punished. He keeps his head down. I'm not fond of him, though, it has to be said. He gives me the creeps, to be honest. On the rare occasion when he is actually in class, I always make sure to stop by his desk and make him complete at least a bit of the exercises, but I don't push him too hard for any kind of personal relationship. I don't particularly want one with him.

Minwoo and Daeseok are in the same homeroom class and are essentially best friends. Although Minwoo causes more trouble on the surface, it's generally suspected that Daeseok may be up to more serious things, while under the influence of Seunghyeok. Co was trying to explain why she thinks this is to me after school today, but was unable to put it into words, because for all intents and purposes, everyone should suppose that Minwoo is the bigger trouble maker. But I told her I think her hunch comes from the fact that, even though Daeseok is not a mean-spirited student, he's an extremely logical young man. He seems to think very much in straight lines. Minwoo is emotional, which leads to all kinds of outbursts at school, whereas Daeseok is rational, which could lead him to becoming involved in much colder activities, if he sees the logic behind them.

Basically, Co and I have noticed that lately Seunghyeok has been having little meetings with Daeseok and Minwoo, and while Daeseok and Minwoo seem to be 'friends' with Seunghyeok, they seem a bit too serious and uncomfortable when Seunghyeok is around. Minwoo moreso than Daeseok.

I know for a fact that Seunghyeok is involved with some badass older boys. I know for a fact that Seunghyeok is involved in bread shuttling money to the older boys. I know that Seunghyeok has clothing and accessories that he, as an orphan, has no legitimate means of obtaining.

I told Co all of this and that I also suspect that Seunghyeok may be trying to pull Daeseok and Minwoo in on these activities. Yesterday, Daeseok literally ran away from Co, as she shouted after him while he was walking off the school grounds. She said she suspected he was going to meet Seunghyeok, because it's completely out of character for Daeseok to directly defy a teacher like that, but she suspects he's afraid enough of Seunghyeok to override any respect he may have for his teachers.

I stayed after work nearly an hour today talking this all over with Co and giving her any information I had. After I left, I happened to catch a glance of Seunghyeok heading up an alley with a boy from another school. I ducked in behind him and, sure enough, there was Daeseok. Minwoo was nowhere to be seen. I told Daeseok to be a good boy and not get home too late, and then I sent Co a text telling her I had seen them together.

Minwoo appears to be trying to stay out of all of this. Today, he and Daeseok came into the office after school while Seokhee (my South African student) was there. When they walked in, I called out their names and asked them why they were there. Minwoo grabbed Seokhee (who is a little bit afraid of Minwoo) by the back of the neck and told him to tell me that he hadn't done anything bad and he wasn't in trouble. After Seokhee had translated this to his satisfaction, he stood there for a moment with his hand still on Seokhee's neck, and thought. Then he added, "Tell her that I love her."

I laughed and said, "I love you too, Minwoo." (This is not as strange a thing for a student to say to a teacher in Korea as it is in the West.)

Daeseok saw the translation going on and decided he had something he wanted to communicate as well. He jumped in and told Seokhee to ask me how much my tattoo cost.

So. Minwoo's doing alright. He's back to showing Co a reasonable amount of respect and not kicking up any trouble lately as far as I've heard. He's a good boy, if a bit irrational at times. Rational doesn't always equal good, as we can see with Daeseok, who I am now legitimately more worried about.


Anonymous said...

thank you!

Anonymous said...

Strange. To my American mind, a student pulling on another student by the neck would have been the start of a very unpleasant and probably violent altercation. Seems much worse than grabbing someone by the shirt collar.


-- .38

I'm no Picasso said...

Anon -- You're welcome!

Spesh -- Yeah it wasn't aggressive or anything, more of a kind of big brotherly action. Just putting his hand on the back of his neck. It's not uncommon for the students to touch each other that way, but it's just that Minwoo is a little intimidating, so Seokhee cowered a bit.