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Pepero Day!

Inch'on, South Korea

I've eaten some shady stuff here in Korea--silkworm larvae soup and chicken feet spring immediately to mind, followed closely by squid jerky and rice juice--but on at least one occasion, the Koreans really got it right. I speak of Pepero, my favorite indulgence here. It's a long, slim biscuit, covered in a thin layer of chocolate along the lines of biscotti, available at any convenience store, 12 sticks for thousand won. (Today, that's 83 cents.) Pepero is delicious; in fact, for my first six weeks, it was my favorite thing about Korea. I have since developed other interests, but I was thrilled to get to school today and learn that it is officially Pepero Day.

In the words of Lisa, a fifth-grader, "Pepero day is love to person people snack give. I give the 15...this pepero is delicious. I like Pepero. All people is love the Pepero. Pepero is the happy Korea snake."

Change that last snake to snack, and we're golden. They were surprised to learn that we don't have Pepero Day in the states, and I had their sympathy for all of five seconds before one of them pointed out, "But teacher...you have the Halloween Day." Right. So all the kids give Pepero to the people they love today. I was pleased to be showered in chocolate biscuits with packaging that states in swirly romantic script, "Happy Pepero Day. I'll be loving you forever deep inside my heart." Why November 11? In an admirable marketing ploy, the folks at Pepero convinced that nation that a Pepero stick looks like the number one. So what are four Pepero sticks lined up? 1111, of course...11/11. The kids were absolutely wired today. I can't even conceive the Pepero pandemonium which will undoubtedly ensue two years from now on 11/11/11.

Another good thing to happen today was me getting to take over a class from Harry. Harry is my favorite co-teacher, a fancy little Korean man who carries a far nicer purse than me, but is kind to me in spite of that. My schedule of classes was rearranged THREE times this week, but I ended up with tt5A, which is the highest class we offer at my school. It's just one boy, Min, age 14, and he speaks excellent English. Far better than my director, unquestionably. In our book, we were discussing the word obsessed--a risky proposition with a 14-year-old, but we managed to steer clear of discomfort when he used the example, "I am obsessed with sports. Like baseball and football."
"Oh yeah? You mean soccer, or real football?"
"Real football, like American football."
"Yeah? Who's your team?"
Three seconds of silence, then I asked "...Really?"
Yes. Turns out he spent a year in Tacoma when he was 10, and he can't wait to finish school and move back to Seattle. Ha...me too, kid. Really though, it was a treat to be able to speak in exact language today, without approximating. I forgot how much easier it is to teach when I don't have to mime everything. It definitely made me excited to get back to those smart-mouth American teenagers that I love.

Finally, I'm pleased to announce that in my continual progression towards assimilation, I now know enough Korean to read the graffiti on the bathroom stall at my school. It's a little unseemly for this outlet, but let's just say that some sentiments are universal. Huh.

permalink written by  alli_ockinga on November 11, 2009 from Inch'on, South Korea
from the travel blog: I go Korea!
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Ah yes, we *do* get Halloween. Score one for the U.S., huh?

PS--Be nostalgic for the American teenager now, but after a day back in the States and a few interactions with them in downtown Seattle, you'll start assigning hypothetical points to them when you're driving around just like Kim and I have.

"Fifty points if you hit the 12 year old couple tangled in each other's arms/the boy's Ecko sweatshirt!"


Miss you.

permalink written by  Ryan on November 12, 2009

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Hey everyone! In February 2009 I left the Pac Northwest for South Korea to teach English for a year. This is what I'm up to! Keep in touch!

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