At the end of the day I taught one class. That was my training over. Two hours of listening to Debbie talk and seven hours of watching teachers teach. I’d really learned nothing except that appearance was all that mattered. The kids clearly weren’t learning anything, and most of the Korean teachers spoke almost no English. The place was a joke. If I decided to jump about and spout gibberish I would have been considered a good teacher… as long as I smiled and wore a tie.

Won Bin

By David S. Wills

Humor

 

Jonathon, Thomas and I were standing outside a Family Mart at about five in the morning, amidst the humid stench of Daegu, drinking from little paper cups of soju. The bars were closing down and the clubs were emptying into the vomit-soaked streets as the sun began to rise and burn through the smog.

We were drunk and had been drinking for about nine hours, and Thomas and I had to work at nine. It was a routine that had gone on for several months. There wasn’t much else to do, and work was about as tolerable sober as it was in the grips of a killer hangover.

Suddenly I screamed as someone slapped a handcuff on my wrist. In a moment of shock I yanked my arm away, pulling the cuffs away from the person’s hands.

“What the fuck?! Is that an oompa-loompa?”

The Dog Farm

By David S. Wills

Memoir

One dark, grey and thoroughly depressing Sunday afternoon, after a heavy bout of soju-swilling in the tight confines of the apartment, Min Jung suggested we go out for lunch. I could tell she wanted to dress up and point her tits at other people. She liked flaunting her beauty, particularly at people she hated, and she hated most Korean people – especially the ones that reminded her of her parents. Sometimes she got a look in her eye that said that for whatever reason she wasn’t entirely happy but that she was feeling confident in herself, and just wanted to dress up nice and let people know that she was hot. Also, I think she liked showing people that she had a foreigner for a boyfriend – not because she was proud, necessarily, but because she liked to rebel. Probably there was no great difference in her mind between wearing a skirt that barely covered her snatch and holding my hand in public.

“What you want eat?” she asked.

“You,” I replied with a stupid grin, but she didn’t get it.

 

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.

“I’ll never trust another old person,” Bart Simpson once said, and for that nugget of wisdom I’ve always half-respected him. The fact is the elderly are as capable of screwing you over as a menacing looking teenager, or a hardass, stoneface punk twenty-something. Worse, the elderly won’t just take you for a ride… They’ll say they ‘fleeced’ you and call you a ‘rube’. Of course, if you trust the elderly, you can have no complaints about being called a ‘rube’. That’s just exactly what you are.

And that’s exactly what I am. A rube. A pure-bred, plain-as-day rube. I met an old man and let him have his wicked way, and he damn well did it on national TV. No, not Korean national TV, which is of interest only to Koreans, and which is so backward, racist and pedophilic that no one could seriously give a fuck what is said there… but the BBC!

Being fleeced like a rube on the BBC is like being pantsed at your wedding, or outed at your funeral. It makes you look more foolish for not realizing that you were being watched… by several million people. You didn’t just fail to notice one person rape your dignity – you failed to notice an audience of millions, or their cameras, lighting or sound equipment.

 

Indeed, it may be “the cabbage you can ravage with the chilli paste taste,” but kimchi isn’t that amazing. I mean, taste is subjective and everything, but can anything really be so awesome that an entire nation of people could be obsessed with it? Even in America people vary their fast-food diets. One day it’s fried chicken and the next it’s hamburgers, and sometimes it’s a pizza. But in Korea, people are so crazy about kimchi that it goes beyond ridiculous. It’s something that has to be experienced to be understood, and I think it’s impossible to exaggerate the love Koreans have for their national dish.

I’d never even heard of the stuff until I came to Korea, and when I was presented with a side dish of it at dinner, I thought, Hmm, this is ok. It was indeed palatable, but nothing special. The next day I was given it for lunch, then dinner. And the next day. And the next. Pretty soon I opted to pass over the kimchi. It wasn’t that it tasted awful, but rather that it just wasn’t good enough to eat twice a day.