Sweet Revenge, “Restroom please?” and ‘Danmelia’

It’s been over three months since I last posted about Korea and what we’ve been up too.

Over the summer I flew back to England to see my Nana, we then went to Cambodia, and two weeks later spent a weekend in Daegu for the Athletics World Championships.

We’ve started our new contracts and Amelia has transferred schools. Her previous school was fine except for the daily commute. Now she leaves after me and arrives home before I do. In several of her classes she only has three students, unbelievable. It’s a pretty sweet deal, but she’s kept busy with preparation as three student classes get through work a lot quicker than thirty student classes!

Our few friends that we had, abandoned us and returned to their homes almost two months ago now. Fortunately, we’ve gained some new teachers in Hwacheon and everybody is very nice and friendly. We’re certainly spending a lot more time socialising than we ever did last year. In our apartment block we now have four Brits, three South Africans, one Kiwi and a token American.

A few weeks back the foreign teachers of Gangwon Province attended a teacher training conference in a nice hotel overlooking the Sea of Japan.

We ended up getting a little carried away and having a ‘few’ beers on the beach before continuing in one of the hotel rooms afterwards. It was great meeting new people and westerners (as we don’t meet many in Hwacheon). I decided to call it a night upon fiercely defending Britain’s sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and hating on a Canadian guy who persisted in telling me how the Midlands of England are a ‘hole. Over and over again.

Three hours later, it was time to wake up. The hangover didn’t properly kick-in until our two-hour drive home through windy mountain roads. At this point I remembered why I’d been virtually tee-total for the best part of sixteen months…


Work-wise, everything is fine. We had a school sports day a few weeks back. Fairly standard stuff except for the chicken fight, which you can enjoy in the video below. The highlights weren’t caught on camera, but you get a general feel for it. I’m not sure it’d be legal in British schools.

My high school first graders latest ploy to get out of English class is to use the entirely unoriginal,”Teacha, rest room – please?”.

They go to the toilet, and don’t return for fifteen minutes. I had to allow one of the boys to go, after this creative attempt (see image below) to communicate that he needed to go to the toilet, but didn’t know how to ask in English.

I’m showing the class a video clip of the Spice Girls Greatest Hits, and he comes up to me, totally straight-faced, shows me his drawing and points in the direction of the bathroom. Naturally, I cracked up. As did the rest of the class.

A week later, one of the girls (who did a disappearing act the week before) is asking to go to the bathroom. I tell her she has one minute, she want’s five. I tell her she can wait till the end of the class. This upset’s her so I told her firmly ‘NO, poo poo later. 15 minutes wait’. She replied, “Teacha, poo poo no. Magic Pad”. So I gave in.

I can’t have conversations like this with 16-year-old girls!

In Korea, you use the term ‘pee-pee’ or ‘poo-poo’. They like to keep it simple. Adults included – not that it crops up in conversation all that often, obviously.

I’ve also taught my High School boys the word ‘crap’ and the origins of the word as they were curious and I figured they wouldn’t remember it anyway. How naive of me. It has really caught on. If one of them goes to the toilet for a while, the others delight in telling me how they’re having a ‘king crap’. They decided to add-on ‘king‘ by themselves. They’re English ability is progressing considerably, I’m so proud of them.

Except they can’t pronounce ‘crap’ so it comes out as ‘crab’.

“Dan, Hwan-Bin has king crab”.

“Huh? Oh…… very good” *gives bemused thumbs up sign*

I have some stimulating conversations with my high school students, as you can see.

'King Crab' has a whole new meaning

I complain about one of my classes a lot. Mr Bae and I refer to them as ‘the class of doom’. (I believe credit goes to William Walter Hughes for coining the phrase). They’re a relative nightmare by Korean standards, they’ve been mentioned here before. They hate English and never make any effort what-so-ever.

Anyway, two or three of them will go to Canada this winter for a trip organised and funded by the local education authority as part of their efforts to enhance English education in Hwacheon.

When the students found out about this opportunity, they suddenly decided to behave and make an effort in class, for the one lesson before the decision was made.

They also all made a point of saying “Dannn….. Please I go Canada”. The most English a lot of them have ever spoken.

Mrs Jeong pretty much told me that the decision on who goes, and who doesn’t depends on my assessment of the students. She told me to assess all twenty-four of them by giving them a mark out of ten based on competence and attitude.

This was my chance for some vengeance.

Three girls got 9/10, two boys 7/10, and the rest got below 5/10. I didn’t hold back. I even gave five students a mark of 1/10. The scores were honest, fair and reflective. Mrs Jeong agreed, although I’m not sure she’d have been quite so harsh.

I really don’t like to see students being rewarded for poor behaviour. Evidently, I did my best to ensure they wouldn’t be.

On a final note, I thought some of you would be amused to know that Amelia and I are apparently known locally as the ‘Hollywood Couple’. Obviously in reference to our supreme sense of style, good looks and the truly ‘glamorous’ lives we live…

I’m not quite sure how we’ve acquired this nickname, as the only time most locals see us is at the weekend when we look far from ‘Hollywood’ in our Leicester City shirts post-workout walking through town to lunch..

Nonetheless, as complimented as we are, we’re taking it with a pinch of salt. I feel like Wayne Rooney could come to Hwacheon and be called ‘handsome guy’.

Regardless, Korea is good for my ego.

Brangelina? What about Danmelia?

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