Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Should Tragedy Ensue...

and the dullness of your scissors makes you blue,

there is a place in Seomyeon just for you:

I found this spot while walking home from Burger King a while ago. This would be the same Burger King that thinks mayonnaise, which is totally a sauce, by the way, belongs on Whoppers. Burger King is wrong.

My horrid display of rhyming and digression into Burger King's folly ways aside, I wonder if people who have never seen ice on the ground find ice skate sharpening facilities as funny as I find "hairdressing scissors sharpening centers"?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Seomyeon: Disorder Restored

A few events over the past week and a half have left me assured that Seomyeon is over it's midlife crisis, which involved being broken in an awesome way, and returned to just being broken.

First, they've been ripping up the intersection in front of my apartment. At 2am. Because if 2am isn't a good time to do really loud construction, when is? In spite of my obvious noise complaints, I'm going to concede that this particular event actually makes sense. Due to the many ways in which Seomyeon is broken - disasterous pedestrian and motor traffic, illogically connected roadways - there is simply no way that they could rip that intersection up during the day. Having said that, I suppose it's even possible that they do this in Toronto and New York City. Do they? I have no idea. Still. I refuse to overlook the fact that they're doing really loud construction in the middle of the city at 2am. This strikes me as an inconvenient irritant, no matter the location.

Second, it takes me exactly 5 minutes longer to get to work after dinner if I don't violently elbow at least three people in the neck. I don't aim for the neck, that's just the way it works out. I'm tall. If I don't violently elbow anybody in the neck on my way to work, I'm twice as likely to end up shoved down a flight of stairs. Given that I'm perfectly good at falling down the stairs all by myself, I think that I'll pass on this opportunity.

Finally, on my way to work the other morning I saw one guy pissing on a store front and another one puking over the curb. This was all within a one block span. Needless to say, a day where you witness both public pissing and puking before 7am is bound to be awesome.

Broken Seomyeon is far more entertaining and less confusing than Unbroken Seomyeon.

Its Not Always About You Korea. Again.

If you hate Korea so much, why don't you just leave?

This is a profoundly stupid question.

I've seen it not only on my blog, but hundreds of times over on Dave's ESL Forums. Every time that I see this question, my brain swells in horror. Everybody that I've ever been involved with purposely pops their collar; I was already quite dumb enough, thanks. The students and business folk of Busan are counting on Barbie to have a functioning brain. The further that you lower her intelligence by asking questions such as this, the less likely she is to remember her native tongue. Given that she already struggles to spell "ambulance" correctly and regularly speaks in the third person, this is problematic.

This question is stupid for at least two reasons (and probably many more, but I have an ice pack and The Office waiting for me):

First of all, with very few exceptions, Korea does not make people miserable. Occasionally miserable folk come to Korea, where they remain miserable. Korea is not a magic misery removing elixir. Arriving at Incheon airport doesn't suddenly make you a more interesting, better looking, jovial individual with killer wit. Conversely, awesome people don't suddenly become less awesome because they started eating kimchi. If you sucked prior to Korea, there is a good chance that you're going to suck here, too. To ask why these people don't just leave Korea is to miss the entire fucking point.

Second, being critical about the place that you live is not the same thing as hating it. It pains me to think that there are actually people older than 8 can't distinguish between the two. Criticism is healthy. Lacking the ability to handle criticism with grace is not. Disagreeing with criticism is healthy. Curling up into fetal position and screaming loudly, without bothering to directly address said criticism, is neither healthy nor productive.

Once again: it's not always about you, Korea. Really, it's not. Chill out.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Spotted: Order in Seomyeon.

The perfect, single-file line wrapped neatly around the curb. Roughly 15-20 people waited quietly, just steps away from one of Seomyeon's 42 subway exits. Nobody attempted to cheat their way to the front of the line. Nobody saw the need to plough their way through the line when they could instead, just walk around it.

When the bus they were waiting for finally pulled up to the curb, the line moved onto the bus in an orderly fashion. Still, nobody cheated their way to the front of the line.

This, in a neighbourhood where I'm unable to get to work in a timely fashion without violently elbowing at least three people along the way. This, in a neighbourhood more in need of Walking Hagwons than the English Hagwons that are currently found on every corner. This, in a neighbourhood that is so lacking in organization that I once described it as what would happen if you gave a 3 year old a pack of crayons and asked them to design a city centre.

Just the night before, somebody rammed their elbow into my back at one of the 15 Family Mart's near my apartment. Apparently there just wasn't enough room in the store for the two of us.

I gaped awkwardly at the lineup for about 30 seconds before one of the members of the line spotted me making a ridiculous face. She pointed and laughed at me. This was the correct thing to do.

Either nobody in that lineup is a Seomyeon regular, or Seomyeon is broken. This time, in a good way. Or, perhaps this happens everyday and I'm just too busy violently elbowing people to notice?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The 1st of 227 Reasons That Teaching Adults is Better Than Teaching Children

Reason #1 Why Teaching Adults is Better Than Teaching Children:

I no longer need to bring extra tissues to work.

Mucus Student was 9 years old (In Real Years. This translates to something like 17 in Korean Years) and didn't know when it was time to blow his nose. He was not functionally retarded. His English speaking ability eclipsed that of his peers. He was not socially retarded; in spite of his perpetually leaking nose, he seemed to be quite popular with the other snotrags. Yet somehow, he had minimal appreciation for the fine art of nose blowing.

It was a tragedy of epic proportions.

I would come to each of Mucus Student's classes with an extra wad of tissues, just for him. When he approached my desk to hand in his homework, dripping profusely from the nostrils, I would subtly pass him some tissues and indicate that it was time to blow. Or at least wipe, for the love of God. I was not always quite subtle enough. Occasionally one of the other students would notice the exchange, which would lead to the other 4 students giggling at their nose blowing inept friend. They all seemed to understand how totally gross he was in this regard. Mucus Student would shrug bashfully and seemingly feel no shame.

Mucus Student was a model student, whose failure to properly maintain his nostril drippings thoroughly repulsed me. Every single class my thoughts were forced to wander into the territory of How Did This Happen?! Did his parents drop the ball after potty training? Did they even teach him to do that properly? What gives, Mucus Student's parents?

I spent way too much of my time last year analyzing repulsive matters such as this one. While those of us who pretend to be adults undoubtedly have our own repulsive habits, I'm yet to come across anything as nauseating as Mucus Student and his failure to know when it's Nose Blowing Time. For this, I am grateful.