Thursday, 21 October 2010

Korea - The first North Korean submarine

Hello everyone!

Last week I did a lesson on comic strips. A nice way for them to breeze back into normal school life after the midterm exams. I let them choose their own topic for their strip, and some of them were very inventive. Some - mainly the ones that covered suicide in graphic detail - were not so appealing.

One of my classes is with an English teacher called Mr. Lee. I don't like him. The other teachers don't like him. And the students HATE him. One of them sensed that this lesson was an opportunity for revenge. His comic strip, pictured below, centred around one main character called Comer. We all knew that this was Mr. Lee. He called me over to check a spelling. hittler.

Many teachers would have put a stop to this theme straight away. I am different. I told him that there was only one 't' and that it needed a capital, and laughed. We all did. Which drew the attention of Mr. Lee. He demanded that the student tell him what was so funny, at which point I intervened. I asked the student if he was willing to read his comic strip out loud to the whole class, including the teacher. I've never seen a kid run up to the front so fast. Mr. Lee laughed - until the Hitler part. And the subsequent 'the students are my soldiers' box. I rewarded the student with candy for showing such cojones.

I only taught this lesson for two days. Friday was the school's field trip. Well, only for the first two grades - the third grade just get extra classes. So we went to Lotte World, which is an amusement park. And department store and cinema, of course. It has a Disney feel to it, which was nice for our students. However, we weren't the only school who organised a trip that day, meaning that it was packed. Sardines in a tin came to mind. I went on one ride with the teachers - the monorail. And we queued for 30 minutes. Craziness.

We actually spent most of the day at lunch. The VP was there, and made me drink a lot of makkoli because I stayed in the park too long when I was supposed to have met up with him. Interesting punishment. From here I left Seoul and headed away for the weekend. I went alone, as no one else was particularly keen on the destinations, but they were two places I really wanted to see in Korea before I left - Jeongdongjin and Samcheok.

Both are situated on the east coast, and both have quirky attractions. I will cover Samcheok in the next blog, so the focus here is on Jeongdongjin. I arrived, via a bus change in Gangneung, late on the Friday night. It was pretty cold, as one would expect in mid-October. Jeongdongjin is famed for being a place for romantic couples to watch the sun rise. I...didn't bother waking up for it. What I did see was a cruise ship on top of a cliff. It's a hotel. I went up to explore and sank a Singapore sling in the sky bar whilst being deafened by the noraebanger on stage.

What I also saw in Jeongdongjin was a U.S. warship, which you can explore, and a North Korean submarine. Interesting story, this. In 1996 the North sent a team of spies to land in the South. The sub hit rocks and surfaced near Jeongdongjin. To prevent defection and to maintain secrecy, the 16 soldiers killed the civilians and engineers on board before burning the evidence of their plans. They then came onto land and fought the Southern soldiers. All bar two were killed. One is in prison in Seoul: the other was never accounted for. He could be right behind me...

30 people were on board. How they managed to fit that many into such a small space is a horrible miracle. The computers were very dated, though as this was used in 1996 that is understandable. From here I trekked to a temple and an art park, before heading over to the train station.

The train station is an attraction in itself. It holds a Guinness World Record. As far as the stoutmakers are concerned, it is the closest active train station to the sea in the world. It pretty much is on the beach. It they get any strong wave here, this station will no longer exist. It was, like most other things in Jeongdongjin, very intriguing. A fascinating little town, and a place I would recommend to anyone who needs to fill a weekend in Korea.

Love you all


No comments:

Post a Comment