I know its been awhile since I’ve blogged and I do apologize. I’ve had a good friend of mine, Mark McGuire, visiting from California for the past two weeks and my time for blogging and reflecting was pushed to the side. Its been a long two weeks full of dong dong jew in Busan, attempts at site seeing, bar side fire shows, noraebongs (karaoke rooms), crying korean babies, and eventually even some hiking on Geoje island.
All of these activities brought about new experiences and a few good laughs for Mark and myself, but one day in particular will forever stand out in our minds, I’m sure. Thanksgiving day 2009. As I’m sure most of you should know, Koreans do not celebrate American Thanksgiving. So, being the only American teacher in a Korean school I found it my duty to spread the word of the great feast held between the Indians and Pilgrims after that first successful harvest so long ago. Activities included: coloring turkeys, pilgrims, indians, cornucopia and even a story or two on the bond Thanksgiving has sparked amongst families. Needless to say I left out the history of rape and pillage amongst the Indians and Pilgrims. How do you really explain that to a 5 year old korean anyway?
On Thanksgiving Day, Mark accompanied me to class to watch me run around, sing and dance with my classes. We made Indian headbands and the moment these things went on the kid’s heads, their hands magically made it towards their mouth and they were running around , screaming, and “waa, waa, waaa, waaing” the way the “Indians do”. Needless to say it wasn’t the most politically correct way to describe the Indians role in Thanksgiving, but I figured it beat telling them how it really went down.
As if the classroom craziness wasn’t enough, my boss/owner Sunny and her husband “Brian” decided to take Mark and I, along with all the other teachers in our school (6 girls/women) out to dinner and drinks to celebrate my friend in town. After finally confirming the fact that Mark is like my brother and not my lover, my boss decides to question Mark on which Korean woman he wants… Picture this: we’re sitting on the ground at a korean bbq (very difficult for mark considering his size) drinking shot after shot of soju (since Brian is a huge lush) and Sunny numbers all the korean girls I work with and tells Mark he must pick his favorite. Jenny aka #3 announces “I make good babies” and shows Mark a picture of her newborn on her cell phone. All the other girls Barbie, Coy, Lily, Sunny, and Alice are shouting out in broken english the reasons why Mark should pick them. AWKWARD. Poor Mark was a good sport and chose all of them once he was forced into decision.
After we eat and drink our body weight, Brian and Sunny decide we should all go to a Noreabong (karaoke room) They force mark and I to sing the first song so we choose “Barbie Girl” in honor of Barbie…
We were terrible but after a few shots of soju courage, everyone was singing and dancing and playing the tamborine. Mark and I decide we should sing “Born in the USA” not knowing the actual lyrics to the song. “I went to a foreign land to kill the yellow man” actually came out of our mouths and we both just lost it. Not believing what I just read/sang, I double checked the TV screen to see images of the Vietnam war and snipers float past … AWKWARD. Thank God everyone was too tossed to notice the racism coming out of our mouths and projecting on screen.
All in all, Thanksgiving was quite the day and I’m glad Mark got to experience the daily and sometimes nightly occurrences of my life in Korea. Since he’ll be returning with no camera, atm card and part of his tooth; at least he’ll return with a taste of Korean culture…