Gangster bullshit.

So. Everyone knows I live in kind of a rough neighborhood, and that my students aren't the most... you know, whatever. I personally like it that way. I get on better with the rough kids and the super awkward weird kids better than the "normal" ones anyway. I don't really wonder about why. But anyway....

There is some serious bullshit going down. Some dumbass named Jeon Taewon who dropped out of middle school and is now nearly what we in the West would consider a grown-ass man is lurking around the bus stop with his cronies taking shit off our kids (KIDS!). I don't know who this kid is -- he came before my time. I don't really care. But I have some suspicions that he is at least loosely associated with another group of high school boys who are less-loosely associated with our jjang crew. And I know for a fact, after today, that our absolute worst student from last year (the one I saw smoking out in the open a couple of months ago in broad daylight) is his buddy.

Let me try to explain this as best as I've come to understand it. I've been surprised to learn that, because I live in this neighborhood and am regularly out walking around in it, and also because I spend more time casually talking to the students, who are a fair bit more open with me, somehow I've ended up knowing more about this situation than the Korean teachers do. But I still don't have it all worked out. Basically, the idea I get is that our jjang crew feeds into (and is currently acting as the little butt-boys of) a bigger, tougher high school group. They are what is referred to as "빵 셔털" (bread shuttle), because they take money and other expensive items off the weaker boys and take it to the high school boys. Usually, 빵 셔털 is created by force, actually -- a stronger bully will force a kind of medium ranked student into bullying lower students, so that he can't be found directly responsible. In this case, I don't know if these students actually count as 빵 셔털, because they're not doing it by force -- it's consensual, insofaras they are considered the younger brothers of this older group.

Now. I know that Minwoo and co. are currently engaged in such activities. But, as far as I know, it's with another group besides the one this Jeon Taewon character is associated with. But I still don't like it. And what I really don't like is that some pathetic fucking loser is terrifying our younger students, while they wait for the bus, a matter in which they have no choice.

Co told me about this guy over lunch today, knowing that I have a fair amount of knowledge of these groups, in hopes that I would have heard something or would know something useful. I told her I had never heard that name before, nor had I seen anyone lurking around the bus stop, but that I would be sure to stop by this afternoon and try to get a bead on the situation. It didn't occur to me at that time that when I saw that bad former student of ours that day, he had been with a group of other boys in an alleyway right behind the bus stop in question.

As I came up to the crosswalk across the street from the bus stop today, I did a quick scan around. And lucky I did. Because what I saw was that badass student quickly cross the street on the perpendicular heading away from the bus stop. A group of our first graders were gathered together on the corner I was crossing to, watching these boys cross away from them. They spotted me, saw me spot the group and quickly approached me as I came across, not knowing what to do other than to point emphatically at the older boys.

"Do you know those boys?"


"Have you seen them before?"


"Stay away from them. Do you understand me? Don't talk to them."

"Yes, Teacher! Yes! Understand!"

Well, fuck it then. That kid wasn't man enough to take me on more than once while I was teaching him, and I don't reckon he's grown a whole lot of balls since then. So. I'll be taking up post at that bus stop after school from now on. Because I'll be fucked if I'm going to let those little cunts get away with this.


Anonymous said...

Hey Liz,
this is pd. Normally, I'm just happy to read about your daily grind and what not, but allow me to weigh in on this issue and offer you some advice:

Don't get involved.

I know your heart's in the right place and I know where you are coming from. But trust me on this. They're just not worth it.

I grew up in 목동. It's considered one of the "best" educational hoods in Korea and I have to admit, it's nicer than many areas in Seoul. But even we had our share of these bullies who took our money and things from time to time. Like time honored traditions, these bullies have always existed and just about every young Korean ends up with one anecdote or another involving these bullies by the time they move on and become adults. Yeah, these punks prey on smaller, younger, weaker students and basically take whatever loose change they might be carrying that day. It is wrong and maddening, but it is what it is.

If anything, all Korean parents should know better not to stuff their kid's pocket full of cash. Parents should also know not to let their kid's wear expensive things to school either. Because the thing with these bullies is that once they figure out that you're always carrying nothing but books and other things that pertain to school, they stop bothering you and move on to their next target.

Yeah, it's bullshit and we Koreans give a lot of lip service about stopping these activities but like the 짱 culture at every school, it just goes on and on and on. It all comes with the territory of being young and weak and growing up in Korea and you're just better off not getting too involved, if at all, because you know...Like my mother always said to me: "You don't avoid poop on the street because you're afraid of it."

Just don't open up a can of worms is all I'm saying.

I'm no Picasso said...

PD -- Thanks for weighing in.

I'm not going to do anything confrontational. Although I'd like to just grab the little creep by the throat and dare him to hit me, I realize that would not be beneficial to my career as a teacher in Korea. Probably. Also, who knows what kind of mother this kid has. You'd guess by his manners either none, or one who is ridiculously accommodating. Which means one little whine-fest to Eomma and there's a huge uproar about the foreign teacher's place, etc.

All I plan on doing is what I normally do, but the extended version. Which is, stopping to chat with the students on my way home. Only I'll be stopping at the bus stop and chatting until they're all safely on board. These boys may be bold in the face of a bunch of tiny 13 year olds, but I highly doubt they'd have the nerve to actually try to take something off a boy in front of me.