A Canadian writer teaches English and finds out what it's like to be a foreigner.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Españ-gul


The lesser known (but no less gifted) of the DeMarco brothers...

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Never Mind the Melons

When you're new to a foreign country every now and then the most harmless thing possible seems terrifying.

Example: one sunny Saturday morning when I first arrived, I woke up and flung open the window shutters to make the most of the fresh air in my dank by dark apartment. No sooner had I sat down with a cup of coffee and the Korea Herald did I hear a megaphone-filtered voice from the street outside. I could tell it came from a passing vehicle, but I have no view out my windows— only the walls of neighbouring buildings.

Now, hearing a voice speak a curt, foreign language through a loudspeaker quickly brings out the worst in my western imagination. I think WWII and Nazi propaganda trucks rolling through the bomb-scrubbed streets. I look down at the newspaper and see stories about North Korean missiles and sanctions and the extension of US "nuclear umbrellas."

"Holy shit," I think, "are we at war? Did it happen while I was asleep? The DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) started lobbing shells into Seoul and now the border is flooding with the galvanized, under-fed, 4th largest army in the world?"

No way.

Couldn't happen.

Right?

I toss on a jacket and run down the stairs to the street outside. It was far from the proclaimations of doom I had dreamed up.

In fact it was a truck full of fruit.

I've written about the commercial culture on here before, but this was a prime example. Back home it's not uncommon to see a truck set up on the side of the road or in a parking lot, selling smoked mackeral or produce from the Valley. In Korea they aren't so stationary. In what seems to be an effort to maximize their market, the trucks roll slowly through the streets announcing their wares and customers meet them on the sidewalk. Or in bigger cities they just set up at busy crosswalks and try to sell melons to the waiting pedestrians. If the traffic slows, they just drive off to another stop.

What I imagined was a rally cry that the ROK (plain ol' Republic of Korea) wouldn't fall at the hands of the commies, was probably more like: "Melons! I got these weird yellow melons! Buy a sack of oranges! Impress your friends! Fruit and Veggies, get 'em while they're mobile!"

So much for an overactive imagination.

I always wonder though what people are saying as they hawk their wares on the big city streets. They seem to talk constantly, and at an incredible pace, about their products. Sometimes when I go to hang out with Shane in Seoul, we'll make up what we think the vendors are yelling at passerbys.

"Bags! Fake designer handbags! I got a blue one, I got a green one, I got a red one, I got a pink one! Bags, bags, bags, they all do pretty much the same thing! Put things into them and be joyful! I got a dozen bags all lined up on a blanket in the subway! You better buy 'em, because son, they are for SALE! Bags..."

One time we visited the large open-air market street at Insadong. A man was firing off the many reasons why you should buy some fried food from his snack cart, but as Shane and I walked by he changed his pace dramatically.

"Ahh... Fish cakes! Fish cakes! Very delish-i-ous, delish-i-ous!"

So I wonder if it's colour commentary or just very fast repetition. Maybe we got the dumbed down version. Lost in translation was how the cakes would bring long life to us and honour to our ancestors.

I guess I'm just not used to hearing people, and not just sales people, talk so quickly and without stopping, in a language which sounds so very strange to me.

At least now I know the melon vendors aren't shouting: "South Korea über alles!"

Never look a gift cuttlefish in the ink hole

This evening I made a quick run down the block to the Paris Baguette. I was feeling much better so I figured I'd indulge myself and buy a small tub of green tea ice cream and a few baked goods. I'm more or less a VIP customer and the shop owner, Kim, likes to offer me a few free treats on my way out. Tonight was no exception, especially since I had told him I was sick during the week. He quickly rushed over to a small basket full of some curious looking black rolls.

"What are these?" I asked, trying to mask my despair as Kim happily dropped two of the dark lumps into a small plastic bag.

He looked at the label but was unsure about the English so he pointed it out to me.

It was unceremoniously described as "ink of cuttlefish bread."

"Oh!" I remarked, fighting to keep my appetite.

"It is very good for our health," said Kim.

This is probably one of the most commonly uttered phrases I've heard since I arrived here. Eating healthy is a national fixation, at least among the older generation who hasn't grown up around super-sized uppercuts. My boss once joked that if they discovered an animal that was said to be incredibly healthy when eaten, the Koreans would quickly hunt it to extinction.

So here I was, politely accepting the only bread I've ever seen in my life that could be described as ominous, from a grinning shopkeeper simply concerned with my good health. I thanked him and headed home with my spoils.

I could only really bring myself to take an exploratory nibble of the bread, and while it didn't taste like pungent shellfish repellent, it was hardly delicious— just bitter and doughy. As for the strange filling which you're probably wondering about, you know, the stuff that looks like congealed mayo (and I'm not altogether convinced it isn't!) that's a question best left unanswered.

I'm sure the health benefits of cuttlefish ink are profound and many, but as a rule of thumb I don't want my dunkables blacker than my coffee.

Thanks all the same Kim.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Magical Mystery Turd

In my first class today I recieved a gift. Paul came into the room with a sneaky grin on his face and one hand in his pocket.

"What do you have there?" I asked.

Voila:
For those of you hoping it might be a soft-serve ice cream promotional doll, or one of the Michelin Man's many illegitimate children, I'm sorry to bring to your attention that it is in fact...

"Doung!"

A pink, anthropomorphic pile of shite, with beady eyes and a namesake grin. This precious little pile is a legitimate children's toy, which gives me cause for concern. You can only romanticize dung so much without leading to severe misconceptions about the stuff. Rather unlike a cloud of cotton candy in reality, dung is not fun or friendly, and serves primarily as a way to spoil nice walks in the park and as ammunition for angry monkeys.

I'm not sure what "Banggut Banggut" means, and I'm not sure I want to. Sure, you can buy rubber dog doo at a joke shoppe back home, but it doesn't have eyes to look back at you, and a proud grin to announce: "Here I am and I love life!"

I imagine the "pet rock" craze of the 70's and think of how much worse things might get...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Who needs book learnin'?

It's nice to know that even if I can't prepare my students for the functions of simple conversation, they already come equipped with the words "super-size" and "uppercut" as I learned in class today. For the newly rebellious generation of Korean youth, this is their golden ticket to fuel up on McDonald's and get in a good, dirty rumble. Live fast and die young right?

Actually, I think one of the kids is named Di-Young.

How forboding.

Howdy Pillgrim...

So I've been sick for most of this last week, with an awesome combo of ear, nose and throat issues. It marked my first trip to a Korean clinic, which wasn't altogether unusual, except for the medication they give you.

I had been told by Shane to expect a myriad of packaged pills to be prescribed, for only the equivalent of 3 or 4 bucks. He wasn't kidding. For my ear infection they gave me what I can best describe as a brace of pills. 5 little multi-coloured tablets in a clear, square package, which was attached to an identical package and continued on in a long string for two weeks worth. I could have strung the pills across both shoulders and looked like some bandito from a spaghetti western. The only reason I didn't stroll into the school, all done up like Pancho Villa, is that I was worried what Joey might have done at the sight of all those delicious packages.

More to come, when I'm feeling like a human being again.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Grammar of Love

I was writing an email in the teacher's room and Paul wandered over and took a peak over my shoulder. He saw as I signed off the note "love sam."

"Teacher!" he said "Love Sam? Like you say to love you? LOVE SAM!" And he threw his arms into the air, imitating my demand.

I laughed.

"No Paul, it's sometimes what you say to end a letter to someone you care about, instead of just saying goodbye."

He still looked confused. I added a comma and hit enter.

"love,
sam"

"I'm sending my love to her. It's like using a comma instead of saying 'love from sam.'"

He looked at me very seriously for a second.

"Teacher, love should never have a period," he said, and paused to whipe his nose on his shirt sleeve, "because then it is like this:" and he made a heart shape over his chest with his two hands and snapped it in two.

That's pretty deep for an 8-year-old.

I imagine the analogy in a harlequin romance novel about a love-lorn olde english typesetter who falls in forbidden love with a Baroness.

"Tempestua my darling, my love shall never be driven into the ground by such harsh punctuation. No periods shall ever stop up the bountiful font of my love for you. Only the purest colon shall be included, in the sub-header, to indicate the beginning of the list of the ways that your gaze is like the setting sun."

"But Heathe! My darling Heathe! You know that our love knows no indentation, and must be smuggled away in the brackets and footnotes of time!"

Okay, that's enough of that. But you get the idea.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Matthew 1:2 - E.T. begat Gollum; and Gollum begat Hulk: and Hulk begat King Kong whose dung was like Donkey Kong

So we've established that dung and cell phones are popular distractions among the youth of Korea, but what of Western culture? What gems of our global entertainment culture have the young 'uns taken a shine to?

It's an odd bunch.

By far the most referenced in class discussions, drawings and stories is E.T. At first I figured it was just a catch-all term for alien, but they seemed confused at such a word, and clarified by drawing E.T.'s iconic, wrinkled golf putter-shaped head on the board.

They think gollum from The Lord of the Rings is both hilarious and a good stock insult ("Judy is like a gollum!" "Nooooo! Teacher!") and the Hulk and King Kong both feature heavily in conversation.

Since soccer is another national obsession, a few of my kids reference David Beckham in their stories— mostly cautionary tales about how he spilled milk on his uniform and cried, or how he once went to the bathroom only to find his "dung was like donkey." Perhaps not the attention Beckham is used to receiving from his young fans, however any press is good press. I should tip off the UK tabloids into running with the headline: "Becks' Loo Garou: soccer hero a beast in the lav, says young Korean child."

One class early in the week, I was illustrating a story about a family's trip to the park. One student had misunderstood the vocabulary word pigeon, for penguin, so to lighten the mood I drew a picture of an old man at the park feeding a penguin. They found this hilarious, but as we continued on with the picture and writing sentences to go with them, I found the kids losing focus. So in the picture of a father and mother both holding their daughter's hands on the way to the park, I erased the daughter and drew in a penguin. Bang, they were right back into it. I asked them to give the unusual family names. The father was plainly dubbed "Dave," the penguin in homage was named "David Beckham," and most random of all, the mother was called "Royal Family."

Surprisingly no dung was found at the park that day.

Here endeth the lesson.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

The short, baffling life of dung jellyfish

Okay. Tonight the dung story to top them all. I'll set the scene:

9:10 p.m. Thursday, in the last of three classes with the same three students. Everyone is feeling a little silly and restless, myself included. I'm writing some sentences on the white-board for the kids to pick out the nouns. Preoccupied, I don't notice one of the kids has snuck up to the board, and is doodling something with the spare marker.

I can already tell what it is from the perfectly symmetrical folds, to the stink lines wafting from the top, but I figure I might as well ask.

"Joseph... what are you drawing?"

Joseph smiles a big sloppy smile.

"Doung!"

The other two convulse in laughter at the mention of this holy grail of Korean kid's humour.

Once the dung ship has sailed, there's no way of getting these kids back. The word association starts.

"Fire doung!"

"Hahahaha!"

"Ice doung!"

"Hahahaha!"

"Pig water doung!"

That proves to be the clincher, and I'm surprised these kid's stomachs don't rupture.

By this point I'm way too curious where their mind will go next, so I let the free drawing commence.

Dung beehive. Dung soft-serve icecream machine. The great dung jellyfish. I can't play stern teacher anymore and I crack up. I love the minds of children, because you have absolutely no idea where they'll go next. The white-board is covered in wavy stink lines.

At least dung is a noun.

Dung & Rockets

I've been having trouble sleeping, so I decided to crack open the bottle of Kosher wine my boss gave me as a gift for Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving). Yeah, it was weird.

I don't know whether to say l'chaim, or ganbei...

I've discovered in my teaching experience so far, and also talking to my teacher friends, that scatological humour is universal among children. The other day in class I was drawing some pictures of a dog on the white-board to illustrate a story I had just read to the kids. I had barely finished, when one of the students at the front of the class leapt up: "Teacher! Teacher!" and pleadingly held out her hand for the marker to make and addition to the drawing. It was towards the end of class so I indulged her, wondering what she thought was so important. Next to the cartoon dog, the otherwise sweet 8-year-old Korean girl drew a large, steaming pile of shite.

Obviously very proud of herself, she pointed to the pile and stated matter-of-factly: "Teacher! Dung!" but the way they pronounce the word it sounds more like "doung."

This was not an isolated incident.

In the evening, in what passes as a story writing class for the advanced students, it didn't take long for the stories to turn to "doung." In fact two of the three students' stories involved descriptions of either David Beckham's poop, or mine... in space.

We did rewrites.

I'm not alone in this either. Shane said that he often sees his own students' binders annointed with little rainbow pen rendered piles. This is sharing binder space with cute Hello Kitty-esque stickers, so I don't get it. They're always these perfect little toothpaste pyramid piles too. If I ever saw something so perfectly rendered on the sidewalk I'd take a picture and start a clothing line. Seriously.

Among my favorite random english t-shirt slogans I've seen so far:
  • "Ass man" as seen on a middle-aged family man, at the subway with his wife and daughters.
  • "Aggressive" as seen on a teenager, calming relaxing on a bench.
  • "100% fuckin' Canadian" as seen on a young Korean woman who probably didn't even know where Canada is on a map.
In all actuality, it could sell to the rebellious middle-school set. Dung chic is not far from taking Hanguk by storm.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

If sandwishes were fishes, your plate would be full

I live in the shadow of the Hotel Bellagio, or the Ho_el Bellagio as the night lights spell it with a burnt-out 'T.' The building looms up over the neighbourhood like the most inappropriate of landmarks. Coming home from the subway station it always feels strange to tell cabbies "Hotel Bellagio, Hajungdong." But its red and blue neon sign stands out like a lighthouse beacon among the hangul shop signs and the winking cartoon pig stencils on the windows of BBQ restaurants, urging you to come on in and devour their chums. Sadists.

Tonight I couldn't sleep so I took a walk through the neighbourhood. Everything was quiet until I heard some rowdy shouts coming from one street over. I peeked my head through one of the building alleys, expecting to see some high school kids arsing around in front of the local Family Mart.

Nope.


There were five, middle-aged men crowded around an old, chipped-yellow skill crane machine, drinking beer, smoking and trying their luck. Since anyone can wander into a convenience store and buy a bottle of soju, scotch, or Beaujolais Nouveau, and there are no laws against drinking in public, this is really a lot less strange than it sounds. That said, it really wasn't what I expected to discover on a stroll through the environs at a quarter after one. The picture is crummy, but I had to be covert. One never knows the etiquette for things like that. It wasn't exactly a case study in photojournalism.

I left the men to wile away their pre-twilight years in the midnight hours winning plush toys and lighters, and stopped by the Family Mart for something the package described as a "Volume Up Ham Sandwish." Famously described by the Red King in Through the Looking Glass as a cure for feeling faint, I expected this particular ham sandwich would do the trick famously. Perhaps by screaming at me when I opened up the package, or summoning up rock music, cranked to 11. However my sandwishes were far from answered, since it turns out that "volume up" simply refers to a third, middle sandwich triangle filled with macaroni salad. It's so obvious in retrospect....

I leave you tonight with this image of the Hotel Bellagio's neon lights, as reflected backwards in the window of the Methodist Church on the hill at the end of the street.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

War & Noodles

Tomorrow I'm taking the subway into Seoul to meet up with Shane and head back to Lucy's to get some photos for the first installment of my column in Halifax magazine. Not that you really need an excuse for pie.

The whole North Korean missile test has been the focus of much media attention over here, but the people I've spoken to seem fairly ambivalent to the threat. "Just one more way to die," as one newpaper put it. It's not nihilism, just a simple rationalization. I suppose I can't understand the mentality of having spent the last few decades in the shadow of the world's most heavily armed border.

I had planned last weekend to tour the Demilitarized Zone, but in light of recent events I think I'll wait till things cool off. At least until they install the robot supressing fire machine guns. That's not a joke.

One story in the Korea Herald, one of the two big English dailies, cited a low cause for concern from the reputed tests, because there was no visible spike in the "ramen index." Essentially, you shouldn't be too worried until people rush out to the stores to stockpile instant noodles in preparation for a potential fallout— the Korean equivalent of the Cold War stockpiling of canned goods for the family bombshelter. For many it seems, possible nuclear warhead tips pointed at Seoul from across the DMZ, is no more cause for worry than the thousands of artillery barrels which have kept aim for the last 40 years.

I don't know if that should make me feel better or worse.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Spake Blogger: "What do you think of my driving?"

I figured out how to change the settings so now anyone can post comments.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

A man in a coonskin cap in a pigpen wants 11,000 won bills, but you only got 10

Sometimes it's hard to adjust to being a new teacher.

Coming from a country where most people understand most things you say most of the time, starts one off on an awkward foot in one where no one ever understands you ever. Here in the land of 'winkin', blinkin', smile and nod' I try my best to speak as slowly and simply as possible. Especially at school, even in my best class, I can't help but feel I'm failing to connect.

Case in point: this morning in my early afternoon class of three 8-year-olds, we were looking at a page in their textbook that showed vocabulary words related to the butcher shop of a supermarket. Words like: pork chop, ground beef, can, package, lamb roast etc. After I spent 20 or so minutes going over the words and reinforcing their meanings by using the illustration, I wanted the kids to use the words they had just learned in conversation. When English is your native tongue, it's so easy to forget how strange and difficult it really is to understand. I asked one student what I thought was a simple question:

"Joey, what's your favorite kind of meat?"

After a long, tense look at the vocabulary list, Joey looked up at me with knitted brow and said uncertainly:

"Package?"

I hope I won't have to declare aquired virtues at customs on my return flight. I can only imagine the import duty on the patience I'm going to be bringing home.

Otherwise teaching is alright. I won't go into huge detail tonight. Suffice to say, that since there is no 'z' in the Korean lanuage, and students pronounce the 'z' sound as 'je,' it's difficult to illicit conversation about the zoo, much less the zoo keeper.

I got a free cinnamon pastry today, just for being Canadian. I've become a regular customer at the "Paris Baguette" bakery in my neighbourhood, and today the owner was very pleased to learn about my origins.

"Ahhhh! Canada! Very good country. Very peaceful country. Very kind to me."

Although it remained unclear what kindness my country had offered this middle-aged Korean baker, I nonetheless accepted his sweet gift on behalf of the nation. It's the least I could do... really.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The medium is the massage, TV hurts.

When Shin was fixing the cable connection he pointed out channel 22: OCN, which reassures its viewers that it is Korea's #1 network with alarming frequency. He asked if we had OCN in Canada, and was surprised to learn we did not.

Of the 70 odd channels in this cable package, about 5 are in English, and I have to say they paint a pretty terrible picture of Western culture to the Korean shut-in, who has no other window. With CNN, re-runs of The Nanny, Tyra Bank's talk show in tandem with Sex & the City and various vapid lifestyles of the rich and famous shows, add a helping of Maury Povich showing shock-value hidden camera footage of domestic and child abuse and shudder that the only relief is the Discovery Channel and the odd B-movie (Lair of the White Worm!!! Wooot!). I don't get AFN, which is the American Forces channel, but from what I'm told, concerns itself with dispensing propaganda, military history and warnings to soldiers abroad: like don't play golf on the airstrip runways, and don't bite babies on the head, foreign as they may be.

Korean TV then is a bizarre hodgepodge of:

- e-sports. 3 channels that regularly feature pro Star Craft and computer game championships!
- terribly low-budget historical action-dramas, like lower than Xena, or Sinbad ("What port would deny Sinbad the Sailor!?").
- shopping and cooking shows, which frequently feature inappropriate Western tunes. Nothing makes me want to buy a pinstripe suit off TV more than hearing it modeled to Twisted Sister.
- confusing talk shows that regularly feature cross-dressing and canned sound effects.
- MELODRAMA. Lots of love-lorn standing on rooftops in the rain with misty looks.

Though it's a pity we can't check out the state-run TV from the North, it seems the conclusion is that TV is a barren wasteland no matter where you go.

Glad I brought some thick books...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The adventures of Sam-Sam & Shin

So this marks my first entry (in Korea) posted from my laptop.

After a week of blank stares, heavy sighs, and misleading IP addresses, my connection problem was solved with a simple (eventually) phone call made by a helpful, if sometimes baffled cable repairman named Shin.

The story goes like this:

Shin came by my apartment last week and attempted to solve the riddle of why my laptop wasn't recognizing the ethernet connection running into it. I tried to explain to him what I thought the problem was, but since he spoke only a few words of English, we were only able to communicate simple issues like 'IP address,' 'router number' etc. Koreans are experts at emotive sighs: "Oh-shehhh!" being a common one. Shin gave a couple good: "Oh... Macintosh-uru..." and then left defeated. I figured he wasn't coming back.

Today I was enjoying a nice sleep-in when I hear a knock on my door at 11:30. I figured it was my boss, so I rushed to put on pants and answer. At the door was Shin, apparently back with new vigor to fix my internet. He made a few more phone calls and sighed a few more sighs. By now it was noon, and he asked me a question in Korean. I told him I didn't understand, and he pointed to his watch and managed: "Lunch-u," pointed to the door and then said "one."

"Oh," I thought "he wants to take a lunch-break." So I nodded and said, "come back at one?"

He returned my nod and walked towards the door, turned back, saw me still sitting on the edge of my bed, and then pointed to my shoes.

"Oh," I thought "is the repairman asking me out for lunch?"

He was indeed. So I gathered my wallet, phone, keys, and walked out with Shin to look for a place to eat.

A brief paranoid thought flashed through my head that maybe this was part of some cable repair-front scam where I'm lured out of my apartment, and his accomplice in the van outside breaks into the place and grabs the enfuriating but expensive "Macintoshuru." I realized this was a foolish and mistrusting thought, and we kept walking down the streets of Hajangdong.

Shin pointed to a restaurant with a happy cartoon squid on the front. I shook my head, not being a fan of chewy creatures of the sea. Instead we found a small place a few streets away and both ordered bibimbap, which is a spicy bowl of rice mixed with bean sprouts, various greens and veg, shredded seaweed, and chili paste served with a fried egg on top. While we waited for our food, we manged to exchange a few details about ourselves. I explained I was from Canada, and I was here teaching. He took out a piece of paper and wrote 1978 on it and pointed to himself. I was surprised he was that much older than me— height and age still throw me off here. I wrote 1983 under his.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!" he proclaimed.

In Korea they add a year to your age while you're in the womb. So when you're born, you start at one. I said to Shin: "In Canada— 23, in Korea— 24!"

He found this much funnier than he probably should have, but by that time our food had arrived. Shin tucked into his and had emptied his bowl before I was even a quarter of the way through mine. I always try extremely hard to eat all food put in front of me at a restaurant, since it wasn't long ago that there were lots of hungry people in this country. It's hard when every meal is big in itself, but also comes with soup and usually two types of kimchi, as well as pickled radish.

I think Shin could tell, and put his hand over his mouth, urging me to stop eating if I was full. I nodded my head and shoveled in a few more bites. While I was shoveling, Shin got up and paid what I assumed was his portion of the bill. As I stood up to do the same, he was already at the door waving me to follow.

"Oh," I thought "did my cable repairman just buy me lunch?"

He had indeed. I took out my wallet and asked if I could give him any money (both meals cost only 6000 won, roughly $6) but he protested with a great shaking of the head.

I figured the least I could do is offer him some coffee when we got back to the apartment, even if it was only instant.

We arrived back and Shin got his repair belt and gear out of the van. Apparently he was going to fix my cable TV too, which I had no idea is was malfunctioning, but after he cut and re-fitted the cable with a new plug, I had better reception and about a dozen more channels.

Shin set back to work on the connection, and called what presumably was a Mac specialist. I made some of the dreaded tube-packed Maxism mocha gold coffee for the two of us. I offered him a cup and he drank from it eagerly.

"Ahhh!" he said "very goooood coffee!"

"Oh," I thought, "really? It comes from a pixie-stick."

Then came the moment of truth. Shin jigged around in the network system preferences and gave a confident "Aha!" When he next opened up the Firefox browser and the default Google page loaded up without a hitch, we both shouted "YES!" in unison.

Firmly and with both of mine, I shook the hand of the cable repairman who had both got me online and bought me lunch. We said goodbye, and I sat down to bask in the glory of connectivity.

So, in honour of Shin's determination, here's a photo I took of Korea's national flower, while walking up a mountain path with Martin and his son on my second day here:



The Mugunghwa, or "Rose of Sharon" (Would a rose by any other given name, smell as specific?)

With up to 3000 blooms on a single plant, it can be transplanted easily, and has extraordinary fortitude, so the Koreans passionately observe it as a symbol of their national character of prosperity through hardship.

No slouch in upholding that character, is the nicest cable repairman I ever met.

Oh-shehhhh... it's good to have you back, Macintoshuru.