Korean Language

Word Salad

Word Salad

Koreans are justly proud of their writing system. Hanguel is historical and scientific, elegant and efficient. It even gets everyone off work for a day in October. (Every country should have a National Alphabet Day.) But for some reason, no one can be induced to […]

Konglish

Konglish

“The fourth grade class? Don’t worry, I have a new power point.” “How about you look it over while I go copy the worksheets?” I suggest. My co-teacher has a habit of downloading power point games without checking their contents. Once a picture of a snake came […]

Busted

Busted

That’s it. I blew it. They’re on to me. After two years in Korea, my fellow teachers discovered I don’t know any of their names. It came up on the drive to work, surrounded by co-workers I’d known for ages. I was trapped. I could […]

Tic Tac Toe

Tic Tac Toe

“Erin Teacher. Shim shim hae yo.” “Me too,” I replied without looking up. Actually, bored didn’t begin to describe it. It was a hot, stagnant afternoon; a terrible time for lesson planning. A face appeared around the side of my computer screen. Merlin had ears that could […]

Pee Is Thicker Than Water

Pee Is Thicker Than Water

I came into the classroom to find my students clumped in a circle, shouting and staring at something on the ground. “Teacher, teacher!” A squad detached to pull at my arms. “Hannah cry! Pee, pee!” I sighed and dropped my books on a desk. Like […]

Learning the Lingo

Learning the Lingo

Erin doesn’t let me buy bus tickets. There’s a good reason for this—I can’t be trusted with Korean city names. It’s not really my fault, though. We live in Chungju. Most Americans (like me) instinctively pronounce the first “u” in Chungju like the “u” in “run.” […]

Unrequited Bravery

Unrequited Bravery

“I can’t believe we’re doing…shh! It’s ringing!” “Ok, stay cool. What is it? You’re expression got all weird.” “Check out this hold music.” “Wait, someone’s talking. Take it back! Take it back!” “Nae, Jeo neun… Oh, she’s still talking, I think it’s a recording…she stopped. Um, […]

Uno, dos, tres!

Uno, dos, tres!

A guide to Korean numbers.

Korean Barbecue

Korean Barbecue

We’re going to a restaurant. This, or something very like it, is within a five minute walk of every apartment building and motel in town.  Don’t be shy.  And don’t worry about the pictures of raw meat plastering the exterior of the building.  Trust me.  […]

Baby Talk

Baby Talk

My entertainment value over here is astronomical. Give me a bowl of noodle soup and a pair of chopsticks, and I can make a room of adult professionals laugh until they pee their pants. On the few occasions I manage to produce a full sentence […]