Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Korea - The first game for Sorae FC

Hello everyone!

This week in school has been strange. Strange, and very dehydrating. I arrived into school at Monday lunchtime - after going to Seoul in the morning to do my visa for China - to be told that lunch wasn't being served. The other English teacher in my office tried to explain the reason for this, with mentionings of 'food poisoning' and 'contamination'. Miss Park then went to get her translator - this was going to be the proper explanation, I thought. She walks over, and shows me the screen. Interspersed amongst various hangul symbols, one word stands out. 'diarrhoea'. Lovely.

As a result, we actually had great food that week. I'm not going to hate on school lunches - I quite like them - but often the teachers from my office would bring homemade goodies to school for us all to share at lunchtime. Bibimbap was the food of choice on Thursday, for example. It was great because I got to see how normal Koreans made this food - and it is done in exactly the same way as things are in a restaurant. Tasted just as good as well!

The other options were food from external sources. On Wednesday we ordered in Chinese food - the Chinese teachers in my office were keen to point out that this is nothing like the food in actual China, but it was good. On Tuesday we went out for some wonderful shabu shabu, which always goes down a treat. Good food week.

This week - with the exception of Wednesday, when 'random exam day' reared its beautiful head and left me watching TV in school all day - I was doing a lesson on movies. I thought it would be one of the more interesting lessons I would do this term, so had been saving it for a time when they needed some sort of light relief. With summer exams just around the corner, the time seemed right.

I knew what to expect. A love-in for Johnny Depp was certainly one of them. I was teaching the phrase 'My favourite actors are...', and asked them to shout out the full sentence with two names. In one class, I heard this: 'My favourite actors are Johnny Depp and Johnny Depp'. Wonderful. Similar positive feelings were expressed towards Emma Watson - they can't say Hermione properly, which I found adorable - and Brad Pitt.

But there were other things I didn't expect. I was asking the students to name some film genres, and the standard answers were shouted out - action, fantasy, thriller and so on. But in the second class of the week one of the girls shouted out an answer that I couldn't understand. I ignored it, but she repeated it, and then more students started to shout it. It sounded like 'error', and they have said this before if I have made a mistake on the board, so I checked my boardwork. No errors there. So again it was ignored, and I asked for others. I got a few more answers, but the crescendo of this sound was getting louder. After discarding the idea that they were saying 'arrow', I looked for help from my co-teacher.

My co-teacher, Miss Ahn, was pretty much biting her finger to prevent herself from bursting out laughing. Now I was stumped. What is going on? Getting a little bit irritated, I asked for more genres, and this word kept on being shouted with enthusiasm. I again looked over at Miss Ahn, who composed herself, looked at me and said: 'Matt, they are saying erotic'. In Korean...ero. Riiiiiight. They are 17, I guess. But still, this caught me off guard, and threw me off my teaching. The students found it hysterical, and I did begin to get a bit hot under the collar. Just as the roars died down, one girl shouted: 'Matt, are you feeling hot?!' and they all started up again. It was very funny, if a little unexpected.

That spread around the school like wildfire - some of the teachers I went for shabu shabu with knew about it, and every subsequent class said erotic. It was a theme of the lesson. If anyone wrote down that their favourite genre was 'erotic', I would get them up to the front to say so in a full sentence. Loud. The best was Friday, with one of my favourite classes, 1-3. By this time erotic was being written in giant letters on the board, and I was asking them if they had seen erotic movies. One student said yes, and I decided to roll with it. This is our conversation.
Me: How many?
Student: Very many, teacher.
Me: Where? DVD room?
Student: No, no. Friend's house.
This would be normal, but it was the accompanying action that kicked this up a level. As he said this, he put his arm around the guy next to him. I looked at my co-teacher, smirked, and carried on.
Me: His house?
Student: Yes.
Me: Together?
Student: Oh-oh-nononono-NO!
Me: You - and you - watch erotic movie - same room?
Student: Aaaargh.
Oh, it gets better. He points to a third student in close proximity and says...
Student: He too, teacher!
Me: (struggling to contain myself) So you - you - you - together - same room - watch erotic movie.
Student: But...ugh...umm...
Me: So you are all gay?
Student: Aaaargh!
Me: Yeah, you all watch gay movie together.
There was no comeback for him, as every other student in the room was hurling abuse at the trio. Brilliant. The master reasserts his control over his young apprentices.

A lot of World Cup banter was going around the school as well. On Tuesday I strolled into 1-1 to pick up my prize for correctly predicting Korea's 2-0 crushing of Greece. 4 choco pies - wagon wheels but without the jam, essentially - was my reward, and I wrote down my prediction for Argentina. National fervour obviously got the better of me - 1-0 Korea, Park Chu-Young the scorer.

Even though it was on a Thursday evening, we all decided to hotfoot it to City Hall once more for the game. It was dry, which led to more people going. We arrived as early as we could, at around 6pm, to find the place packed. We pushed and squeezed our way through to the front of the mid-section, and then started cheering.

The anticipation began to rise - as you can see from the prediction in this picture, many people out here were genuinely convinced that they would win this. I was one of them. Propaganda works. The atmosphere was building...and then suddenly popped with one swift directive from security. Everybody had to sit down. What the %^$?!? We didn't do that on Saturday!! We were all forced to sit down to watch the game. It was a massive killjoy action. Even when sat down, I was told to stop waving my Korean flag above my head. Seriously annoyed about having to sit. Didn't do my knobbly knees any favours either.

People were still chanting and singing, though. Then the game started. And Argentina got the ball. And didn't give it back. Park Chu-Young scored to make it 1-0. My prediction! Well, not quite. He scored in the wrong goal. Idiot. Soon it was 2-0, and the man with the microphone's voice was getting increasingly fragile as he was having to scream louder to encourage people to chant. He was silent after Lee Chung-Yong scored for Korea, though. He had no need to raise people. We raised literally - it was beautiful to stand up. What was no so beautiful was the second half, which turned it into a 4-1 drubbing.

England played Algeria on the Friday night at 3.30am. Yet to do the late game on a school night, though I will have to next week. But this wasn't the only big game on Friday. Oh no. I was making my debut for Sorae FC. The teachers have a football team that plays other schools, and I was in. I even have my own shirt, with my surname in hangul on the back. It is a Chelsea kit though, so I feel dirty wearing it. We played a high school from Ansan. It was fun - the quality isn't the highest, which means I fit in nicely. They play me up front for some reason. They genuinely think I'm quite good. False hope, as we lost 5-3. I set up one - did the Heskey thing of being a non-threatening striker, though I set up the first. Though they now call me 'Sorae Messi'. I think they are way too nice for their own good. I am left-footed and foreign to them, but that's where comparisons end, I'm afraid.

It's what happens after these games that is more fun. Samgyupsal and soju. In giant doses. All of this made me rather drunk, and rather tired. I had to be alive for the England game! I met our Western group after the food in our World Cup watching venue, Garten Bier. I then did something that you simply cannot do in Britain - I took a nap. In a bar. On a Friday night. I curled up on the sofa and slept for an hour. You would be kicked out immediately in Britain, but not here. Garten Bier is great, they seem to like us. Because we are regulars, they bring us complimentary food. It started off as pineapple, then moved up to nachos that we don't really eat many of, but has recently been kicked up another level. They bring out a hotplate. On this hotplate sit four fried eggs. Fantastic.

I was awake for England-Algeria. GB shuts at 4am, so we watched it at someone's house. We decided to do a shot of soju for each corner. We sobered up. England were terrible. 6am return to bed, and a very quiet, chilled weekend was in store. Sorae Messi has to recover for his next game, obviously.

Love you all


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