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

Monday, August 11, 2008

Ding Ddong!

Ever notice how whenever Seoul Seeking peeks back out of retirement it's always to talk about ddong?

Well, my friend Gillian pointed me towards this blog about cake disasters and a post featuring a cake with *surprise* a frosting coil of ddong and a bunch of plastic flies.

In the comments, blogger Tom Terranova pointed out this link on the phonetic connection between "luck" and "poop" in Japanese. According to The Poop Report, the Japanese word for poop "unko" (also "unchi") shares the same "oon" sound as the (unrelated) word for luck.

One reader asks about a golden poop key-chain she saw at Narita airport. She, like myself and anyone else I've talked to about about the ddong phenom, described the Asian poop motif like a swirl of soft-serve ice cream:

"At the risk of getting too graphic, I really must address shape because everyone I spoke to brought it up. Diane, you described the Kin no Unko as looking 'disturbingly like soft ice cream,' while Fujii, its creator, expressed it as a 'nice tatsumaki-shape (tornado-shape).'"

While the shit storm / chocolate swirl debate rages on, let's look at some more instances of Japan and poop.

This site has some cell phone key-chains with a good intro to the "unchi-kun" school of poop:

In Japan there are many stories about unchi and money. If you had a dream of unchi last night, you should go straight to a lottery box and try your luck. Especially golden unchi has a strong power to call big money. Other unchi-kuns have their own power. Please select one depend on your wish. They are funny and cute mascot. Don't they look lovely?

What gets me about this is the honorific "unchi-kun" which is mostly used by senior men refering to their juniors (like young friend or little brother) but can also be used by women to address men they are emotionally attached to, or to a male pet.

The little unchi-kun at the top is the same as the pink and green "banggut banggut" ddong toys that Paul gave me.

Salon.com ran a story back in 1999 about the Japanese interest in poop. This provides us with some key terminology:

maki guso - curly or curlicue poop

And the expression for when someone steps in dog poop:

"un ga tsuku," or "luck has stuck to you."But this Korean cartoon song absolutely eclipses everything I've ever dug up on this blog before on the topic of ddong:

Ddong coffee, Dongchimee, Doggy Poo the movie, or even the ddongchim flash game.

What the hell are they doing!? Ddong flossing?

Watch in amazement and sing along to the "ddong, ddong, d-d-d-d-dong!"

I'm still no closer to a bona fide explanation about WHY exactly poop is so popular in Japan and Korea. Some people have speculated that it goes back to Korea's poor agricultural days when family feces was saved to use as fertilizer, and so it was something valuable that kids would have to learn to muck about in. Maybe this in combination with the influence of the Japanese lucky language puns and both countries' penchant for making anything and everything into a cute-eyed toy or bauble? They all churn together in the bowels of socio/scatological progress and at the end of the day there's an unchi-kun in every home and the gods of digestion are smiling the kind of smile that could even make poop look like a friend...

샘-샘 (Sam-Sam)