Spring in Korea is pretty spectacular.
I never thought I’d say this, but I f****g love school, especially midterms and finals. As a GET (guest English teacher,) I just make English fun in the classrooms, and the other teachers are responsible for more formal tests and lessons. At the high school last Monday and Tuesday afternoons, I was everyone’s favorite teacher because I gave my students time to study for their Wednesday-Friday midterms instead of normal class. It was a win-win because I didn’t have to prepare any lessons or do any teaching; so, I ended up getting paid to work on my photo editing for the site. Since the students were testing on Wednesday, I got the day off.
The middle schools were also doing midterms the second half of the week, and the elementary schools were doing mid-term picnics and sports days. My Friday co-teacher, Mr. Park, gave me heads up that I didn’t have to come in at all, which was a pleasant surprise because my other co-teachers usually forget to tell me when other things are planned in place of my classes, and I end up showing up and just being sent home, like this past Thursday at my other elementary school. (That happens frequently.) Basically, I didn’t work last week, and it was awesome because I got to focus on a lot of other things that I’ve wanted to do for a while.
I’m glad I was able to finish up a lot of stuff and prep for the post-midterms holidays. This past weekend was the start of our fortunately long break due to Monday being Labor Day, Wednesday being Buddha’s bday, Friday being Children’s Day, next Tuesday being Election Day, and the days in between just being freebies. So, to start, a bunch of us EPIK teachers went to the Jindo Sea-Parting Festival. We did an overnight bus with a tour group, Adventure Korea, and arrived a little late at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning but were still able to participate in the first event, where we walked with torches along the sea and watched the sunrise.
7:00 AM: Boozy brunch at the different food tents.
11:30 AM: Woke up on the bus from a boozy brunch nap.
1:30 PM: Met some cool people in the lunch line, partied with a bunch of random foreigners and older Koreans, and signed up for a very boozy hip-hop performance on the main stage.
1:00 PM: JINDO PUPPIES!!!!!!
2:00 PM: Check-in time at our hotel. They told us it was “traditional Korean-style” accommodations, but I think there were definitely supposed to be bunk beds in the room, and they just plopped us all on the floor.
3:30 PM: Woke up from a boozy lunch nap.
4:00 PM: Holi hai! We danced, we laughed, we threw colorful dust everywhere, and we had a really, really, really good time.
5:30 PM: Event organizers handed us Jesus costumes.
5:40 PM: Puppy time again!
6:00 PM: “Gangnam Style” in our Jesus costumes.
6:30 PM: The Jindo Sea began to part in half so that everyone at the event could walk across the parted sea to a nearby island and back!
8:30 PM: I tapped out of the festivities to hit the hay early while everyone else went out and partied some more.
On Sunday morning, we bussed back home and stopped at a Jindo dog show on the way. The dogs painted pictures, raced, danced, jump through hoops, and did some other cool acts. Apparently, the Jindo dogs are some of the smartest dogs in the world. This breed originates from Korea.
In some agricultural areas, like where my Ssangchi Primary is located, you’ll find the Jindo dogs under greenhouse-like tents. In these locations, you know they’re breeding the dogs for soup. It’s interesting how most Koreans, like the ones in Jindo, see dogs as friends, and they see the barbarism of torturing dogs to death for vitality stew, yet it still exists in some areas.
Going between the bigger cities and agricultural areas can seem like two different worlds. In modern cities like Seoul, people dress up their pups and take them to fancy dog cafes, but in the agricultural areas, most pets are kept in cages outside. Beyond just perception differences when it comes to pets, cultural norms are incredibly different. I wouldn’t dare show my shoulders or cleavage in Sunchang; however, I’d feel comfortable showing one or the other, as well as uncovering my tattoos, in a bigger city because most large cities in Korea have modern and hip areas where there are all sorts of trendsetters walking around.
One thing that’s pretty across-the-board in Korea, though, is the almost non-existent theft rate. In Jindo, we left all of our electronics sprawled out on the bus, which anyone at the event could have walked into. Nobody was given a key to their room in our entire 5-story hotel room; all of the rooms were left open. At the festival of literally hundreds of thousands of people, I left a bag of newly-bought festival gear next to the puppy stand and went back for it hours later, and it was right where I had forgotten it, untouched. Stealing just isn’t a thing here. Isn’t that wonderful? 🙂
After we parted with the tour group of mostly Westerners, man, was I excited to be surrounded by Koreans again. Westerners can be so rude, loud, and obnoxious. I wonder what the Taiwanese are like… because that’s where I’m headed next on break! Until next blog…