Coins, vitamins, ice lollies and boring yourself with your own stupid writing

After a vaguely stressful sort of a day, full of shouting (as usual) and getting hit upside the back of the head by the lamest, most infantile kid we have here, I have managed to have a nice little 45 minutes which I will be further delighted in telling you about. In way of breaking up the arduous task of futhering my recap efforts.

Things I have accomplished:

I took the hefty jug-worth of coins in my penny-jar to the bank to get put into my account. The total was:

₩106,770 or £59.48 (bear in mind the drop in value the Korean Won took these last few days… but then bear in mind the drop the British Pound took too)

In the following denominations:

₩500 coins (30p): 112

₩100 coins (6p): 474

₩50 coins (3p): 47

₩10 coins (06p): 102

The following coins were rejected:

Three old-style ₩10 coins from 1967

One recent, but chewed up ₩500 coin

Fifteen honest-to-god pence in: two 2p and one 1p pieces

Two UAE dirham (درهم‎) worth 40p

As an aside, I just showed a girl in my class all of these rejected coins. She politely looked at each one, stacking them in a pile as she went, then counted them. As useful as what I’m doing here I suppose.


I went to the post office to send a post card. Yes, it keeps getting more interesting. The friendly postoffice man who insists I call him 형(hyoung – Korean word for a man’s older brother/older male friend) did some casual pointing and swooping with my postcard while I looked on. After I paid, he presented me with what I believe to be a personal gift of a small bottle of vitamin C drink called 비타500 (bi-ta o-bek).

On my way back to work, I picked up an ice lolly for ₩200 less than I normally pay. No, sorry, I’m boring myself now.


May round-up part. 1 (various Days)

This technically counts as time-off, I’m writing this entry as a break from the 430 other things I want to. I have a problem where if I start to list them physically, with paper, I will write down one and the others fly out of my mind. Like stupid butterflies. Instead the only way to keep them tangible is to focus slightly on one, enough to perform some basic element of it, then flit urgently and unprepared into another task. One that sits adjacent perhaps on the rickety bookshelf that is my mind in the present tense. I’m going to write about the two ‘Days’ we had. Children’s Day and Teacher’s Day. Technically there were three, there was Parents Day, but with my Parent’s some several thousand miles away, I didn’t feel the need to celebrate it particularly.

So, first of all, we had a thing called Children’s Day on the 10th of May. I’m not sure if this exists anywhere else, and I have neither the inclination nor the time to check. It appears that while Korea was importing the celebration of the parents (combining both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day into Parents’ Day – which takes place on American Mother’s Day – 9th of May) they decided to counterbalance it with a celebration of ungrateful resource-consumers frequently referred to as children.

It wasn’t as bad as my cynicism flavours it. Actually it was an incredible week. First we had a whole day at the Zoo in Children’s Grand Park, Seoul the day before actual Children’s Day.

Children’s Day

I had an easy day wandering around keeping visual tabs on my grown-up kids (a full 5/6 years old) with minimal shouting. Much less than actually at School. Jon on the other hand appeared quite stressed trying to herd his 12-head bulk-buy class of 4/5 year olds. Regardless, there were ice-creams, which we both regarded as minor victories.

Jon wrote more in-depth, but to summarise, my half of the school were tossed off our minibus infront of the gates, following our director who appeared to have a homeopathic knowledge of the direction she was heading. The place was just packed with kids on school trips, everyone from Kindergarten age, up to and including high school kids. One  young chap vocally assulted me with the pig-English sentence/enquiry: “You handsome guy. You too? Hey! Me?”, talk about fishing for complements/needing basic grammar lessons.

Upon reaching some new enclosure names Ferocious Animals Village [sic], where we appeared to be the hagwon of honour at the opening ceremony feat. the freaking Mayor of Seoul, wherein two of our (sadly) better behaved kids were hastily nominated to help a team of suits-in-gloves tear down a curtain and enter the place first. There was like, an elephant, some wolves and some big cats with interactive meat.

also, what's with all of those people with the cameras and the flashes on us?

Jon and I tried a bit of a tug-of-war with the lioness who was totally up for it. We got told off by the zoo keepers...

There was a part in a teaching area where we met an affectionate lady ape (liked Jon and I because we were men) totally considered buying one until we were told she cost a tidy £20,000ish. There was also a big albino snake to terrify every female member of staff/enchant the children. Then came out a bloody leopard cub. At one point it jumped off the table where it was being fed, towards the kids. I’m sure they were all basically fine, but every fibre of my health-and-safety Britain brain started to ring alarm bells. Do fibres do that?

a freaking leopard cub!

Loves. Snakes.

The second (and arguably better thing) about Children’s Day was we got a day off on Children’s Day proper. Days off are difficult to come by in Korea.

Teacher’s Day

I recall reading enviously about Jon’s material gains during Teacher’s Day last year, so you can imagine my materialistic salivation as it came around this year. I’m coming across as a prick, but really, I think that it’s a great time to teach in Korea specifically. Parent’s love a foreigner. It seems like the total haul was smaller than Jon’s last year but of higher average value. I would extrapolate from that that it’s because we are the homeroom teachers to a smaller group of (more gratefully parented) children, rather than a whole school of generally (generally happily parented) kids. Here are is  a breakdown of my gifts:

  • A huge box of dried, crispy seaweed. I’ve certainly developed quite a taste for this as I can eat a 30 sheet pack in about 10 mins.
  • A Ralph Lauren Polo shirt
  • A flamboyant flower pen
  • A box of crispy rice-cakes (fruit flavoured – yum!)
  • Half a box of personalised doughnuts
  • An ocarina hand-made (!) by one of my kids and her Mum at a ceramics festival
  • 9 bottles of toiletries, some quite, quite classy
  • A post-it notepad/money-clip bound in leather
  • A Hazzys dog-shaped keychain

a collage of that


Another awesome present (arguably the most awesome) was provided by the parents of a funny little chap in the youngest class (he’s 3) we named Linus (after this man – geek points plz.), we got sent, not taken strangely, to maybe the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever been to. I’m not a prestigious man. The restaurant is called Samcheongak. This place was very classy and perched upon a hill overlooking pines and traditional Korean barricades. The building itself could have easily been a Korean palace reconstruction from the outside, but inside it was a pleasant sort of restaurant. We took our prepared tables with but a second before the lunch menu we’d been booked for came to a close. I was a bit worried about that but I felt quite looked after (in a hurried sort of way) with each final mouthful of every small dish immediately succeeded by another course. It would be a very serviceable, if disproportionately priced, introduction to Korean cuisine to the uninitiated. I’m sure I’d take my parents there if they were ever to visit… and fancied paying.

Jon liked it

Okay this is looking like a hefty blog already, I’m going to write part two tomorrow.

In which I discuss:

  • A Korean’s Wedding I went to.
  • A lantern festival celebrating the birth of Buddha.
  • Jon leaving Korea/his replacement arriving.
  • A weekend in Chuncheon. EDIT: Not going to bother with that one now (see the lantern entry)

Oh crap, a plate of skin

After my rather dry post about Udon and the cooking thereof, a comment was made by one “Ed”  about an old, but brilliant, blog called “Steve! Don’t Eat It!” by The Sneeze. This proved rather coincidental because last Thursday I found a little fair affair going on in the common area of an apartment complex near my home.

Sufficed to say that Rich ordered the most expensive thing on the menu after actually selecting it based on how it looked in a raw form (everything else must have been fucking vile), he told me just after that he thought it was some sort of miscellaneous seafood while tentatively consuming it. It had apparently the appearance of scales.

After a couple of (highly regretable) mouthfuls and some curious visualisations, it dawned on me. It was in fact, a plate of stir-fried pig skin and fat. There are only two forms I believe, when it is appropriate to eat the skin alone, and those are in the artery-clogging forms of pork scratchings and maybe as a side of crackling with a really nice roast. Even then, they are fried and crisped.

These were quite, quite soft and fairly cold, fairly quickly.

oh, not a great picture

enjoying that

At least the rest of the surroundings were quite pleasant.

pleasantly waiting pleasantly

the man who probably prepared the terrible food

There were also some fairground games going on, this one rewarding a right answer/completion of a task/whatever with a piece of burnt-sugar art.

red sticks, blue sticks, numbers

In closing, I’d like to add that the thing Rich ordered was probably some sort of drinking food. Imagine going to a pub and ordering just this big plate of pork scratchings and crisps for yourself without any drinks. That’s probably what that looked like.

The Kimchi Song

I have recently instated something I like to call ‘Kimchi-time’ with my class. This is the time during lunchtime when they all have to eat a bit of kimchi. I do this partially because it will help them to develop as functional Korean adults and partially because it amuses me to watch them crunching their faces up as they are made to eat spicy, fermented cabbage.

I have taken the initiative to record the song for your enjoyment, below are the lyrics and the translation (courtesy of 하영)

The Kimchi Song – by Jupiter Class


‘데이비드 티처 맨날 김치 먹으래,
데이비드 티처 맨날 김치 먹어라,
데이비드 티처 맨날 김치 먹으래,
데이비드 티처 맨날 김치 먹어라’


‘David Teacher says “eat kimchi” everyday,
David Teacher! “eat kimchi”,
David Teacher says “eat kimchi” everyday,
David Teacher! “eat kimchi”‘

Don’t be fooled by their light, innocent voices. A few thoroughly hate Kimchi time and so sing the song with malice. In fact as I have mentioned on Twitter a few times, one girl hates Kimchi-time so much she threatens me with physical violence. Although being 6 years old it doesn’t amount to much more than “tomorrow, I eat David Teacher ice-cream, David Teacher DIE!”.