Flattery, Ballet and Honesty

Last week, the local schools gathered for a teachers sports day. I’m not quite sure what it was in aid of, but we got the afternoon off and were able to enjoy the sunshine – so I was more than happy.

I was nominated to run the last leg of the relay for my school. Probably because I’m 20 years younger than the next youngest male teacher.

I ran, and although I gained ground on 1st place – I could only manage a mediocre 2nd.

As usual, I was congratulated by my always lovely, yet over-complimentary co-workers;

‘Good job Dan”

“Nice running”‘

‘Wow, you are best runner’.

I was then informed by another ‘foreign’ teacher that my running had been described as ‘robotic’.

He is like a robot. He is like the Terminator”.

Those of you that know me well, will laugh at this. For you know full well that I am by no means, in any shape or form unfortunately – like the Terminator. As I’ve mentioned before, Koreans love to compare you to famous people. The Terminator is certainly an improvement on Wayne Rooney though, so I’m happy with this latest, ‘more flattering’ comparison.

I know who I'd rather be compared too...

My running was so inspiring in fact that the next day, several students came into my office and congratulated me on my ‘success’.

Teacher! Teachers say you were best runner. We hear, you were like a horse”


I don’t mind being compared to a horse, but I’d rather it wasn’t for my running ‘ability’!!!

Sorry, that was inappropriate.

I love how things get lost in translation here. It happens all the time. Another recent example.

Me – “So what did you do this weekend?”

Female High School Student – “I met American Fullbright Teachers for exchange experience”

Me – “Cool. What did you do with them?”

Female High School Student – “We slept together”

Me – “Well erm… that sounds like fun” *Trying to keep a straight face and not make eye contact with co-teacher*

I quickly moved onto the next student. I chose not to correct her. I salute her honesty!

Note – I assume / hope she meant they had a perfectly innocent ‘sleep-over’ together.

Amelia and I have befriended another local soldier. His name is Justin (in tribute to Justin Timberlake he says). He always shouts ‘hello’ and waves enthusiastically to us whenever we cycle past him. Even if he has a gun pointing at us in full camouflage, it doesn’t matter – because he’s saying hello, smiling and waving at us. Justin is also very passionate about dance. In particular, ‘ballet and modern’. His dream is to be a famous dancer, singer or actor. Eventually he wants to go to Boston (USA) and perform apparently. He has an obsession with Boston.

"I love to dance. I really love ballet and modern"

He’s an absolutely lovely guy, but hardly what you imagine of a soldier. It’s pretty weird chatting to an armed soldier in full body armour and Kevlar bullet-proof helmet, about how much he loves ballet and modern dancing.

Only in Korea…

I did a class with my high school 1st grade students this week. Usually they hate English, and are never willing to participate. I was trying to teach them the concept of giving tips (As in advice).

I showed them this;

Anyway, for some reason (and for the first time ever) they sparked up. It seemed there was no holding them back.

(They had to respond with “You should….”)

You should get plastic surgery

“You should wear mask”

“You should wear make-up”

“You should have face transplant”

“You should see dentist”

I forget to mention that in addition to being excessively complimentary, Koreans can also be brutally honest.

If your fat for example, they will tell you. If your really lucky, they may even pinch your stomach and laugh. No big deal.

(This actually happens).

I had a large spot on my face a few weeks back (it was disgusting in all fairness). When my students walked in, they didn’t say hello, they merely pointed and asked “Wow teacha! What is it?!'” before laughing.

It’s a low point when hormonal teenage girls start making fun of you.


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