I woke to the most awesome bright light. It was insufferably bright, in fact, and hurt my head tremendously. I could hear a terrible pounding and I wasn’t sure if that was the headache or the light making me crazy, but after a minute of lying there, I realised it was my door.

“Dude!” Thomas said, laughing almost to the point of falling down the stairs. “Holy shit!”

“Fuck off,” I told him. “What the fuck are you makin’ that goddamn racket for? Banging on my door at this hour…”

I looked down at myself as I said this, and then the strangest thing happened. It was almost as though I flew up and out of my body and looked down upon myself from a place by the ceiling. I could see Thomas at the door, wearing a black polo shirt and beige cargo shorts, laughing and looking away, and there was me – my hair was wild and bedheaded, I was stooped from the hangover, and I was butt naked. Worse, I was holding a fistful of red chilli peppers, and there was a red chilli paste smeared on my stomach. On the floor around my feet there were a dozen oranges and a giant carving knife.


It surprised me when I first came to Korea and realized that Korean kids were given English names. Why, I wondered, wouldn’t they just keep their Korean name? Does an English name really make it easier for the kids to learn, or is it for the benefit of native teachers?

Of course, in the year and a half that has since elapsed, I’ve become more than used to the system of ‘education’ in Korea. I no longer question giving kids an English name, because I’m asked to do it at least once a week. However, a few more questions have since come to mind: