11.13.2008

Surprise day off.

Today is National Exam Day for the high school students here. Coteacher told me I wouldn't have any classes, but if I didn't come into work, it would be taken out of my vacation days. So I went, at regular time, and I was the first one there besides one teacher. Another showed up shortly after, and they had a big discussion in Korean about whether or not I knew it was a holiday. Eventually one tried to tell me in English, and I told her I knew, and the other came up with the phrase "S.A.T" to explain.

And now I'll address all this nonsense on the expat forums about how domineering and gruff all older Korean men are. I'm not going to lie -- my principal scares the shit out of me. He walks and speaks like a man with authority. But he likes me, and is kind and gentle when he speaks to me. Today when he came in and I stood with the other two teachers, he laughed and told me I could sit in Korean. Then, when the vice principal came in, he asked the other two teachers in Korean what I was doing there. When they explained that I knew it was a holiday, he came over to my little cubicle. "Lizuh. Anytime, you go home."

"Really?"

"Yes. You go home, anytime."

"Okay."

He laughed and mimicked me: "Okay!"

Then he gave me a biscuit and two oranges.

Now, Fake Coteacher exhibits all of the stereotypical traits the other expats go on and on about -- that's for sure. When we went to have dinner with all the English teachers, my "welcome party", he sat down at the table across from the VP and swatted me really hard on the thigh, said something in Korean and gestured toward the middle of the table. The man knows I don't speak a lick of Korean and at that point couldn't even understand simple phrases to even attempt to figure out what he was telling me to do.

Now, I know that, as the youngest at the table, I was meant to be serving everyone, but I had never had a traditional Korean meal before and had no fucking clue the soup was to come first, and I should be dishing it out. Mr. Wan rolled his eyes (at Fake Coteacher, not me) and started serving the soup himself. But I've seen that kind of behavior a million times out of American men as well. It might be more pronounced and formalized because of Korean customs, which are generally more prevalent (at least from an outsider's point of view) than in America, but that nasty I'm-a-man-respect-me-goddamnit attitude is nothing new to me. And I have not seen a drop of it from the men who actually have the authority to treat me that way. The truth is, Fake Coteacher is a lousy teacher who no one respects and has probably got a chip on his shoulder because he's nearly the same age as the VP and principal, yet is stuck lolling around with us lowly English teachers instead. Now he needs to make up for it by giving me a fucking bruise on my thigh and hitting the boys with his stick. That, as far as I can tell, is something that extends across cultural boundaries.

Anyway, I have the day off and am home now. I will spend it giving my apartment a much-needed proper scrubdown and listening to music. A few midmorning photos of the neighborhood, then:







8 comments:

likethenina said...

Korean men's behaviour is something I really don't like. They learn all those fucking shit from the time when they were drafted to the army. But in the meanwhile it is a old tradition as well. But I'm not quite convinced to behave like that.

Dear poor old men.

I'm no Picasso said...

I've noticed the hitting really hard thing is sort of a common thread, but the other older men who have done it have been telling me to take a seat on the subway, which is really sweet. I haven't noticed overall that Korean men are more brutish than any other kind. Like all groups of people, there are some good and some bad.

The younger men I work with, if anything, seem to me more kind and gentle and careful about holding doors and carrying things for me than any Americans I ever met....

vai said...

the buildings on the right hand side of the last photo are so weird. :)

Gary said...

I'd have fucking laid the cunt out for doing that to ANY girl, let alone a friend of mine. Your male coteachers are gutless wimps for saying nothing.

I'm no Picasso said...

Only the men? Women shouldn't be expected to stand up for other women?

Besides that, Mr. Wan was the only other man at the table besides the VP, and he did take charge of the situation and stand up for me -- he just didn't make a scene out of it.

Gary said...

Well if women over there put up with behaviour like that then they're obviously incapable of standing up for themselves never mind anyone else.

I'm all for different cultures but twatting a lass and telling her to get the food served? Fuck that.

Email on the way. I'm finding it hard to compose them at the moment, or concentrate on much. You know. Also any chance of a mailing address?

I'm no Picasso said...

Yeah well I didn't stand up to him either. That doesn't mean I'm not capable of standing up to him. You learn real quick to just pick your battles sometimes. And ignore twats the rest of the time.

Anyway, the reasoning behind me serving was because I was the youngest -- not a woman. And Mr. Wan is in the same boat as the rest of us there, being just as young as all the female teachers compared to Fake Coteacher.

He was fucking out of line. I'm not going to argue with you on that point. But all I'm trying to say is exactly your point I think -- that's not a cultural thing and it has fuck all to do with him being Korean -- it's a cunt thing and it's got everything to do with him being a cunt.

I'm no Picasso said...

Also, I can give you the address I have but I'm not sure that it works yet, so I would really prefer it if you didn't send anything too important.....