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