Wednesday, October 6, 2010


There are many trade-offs Westerners face when they come to Korea:

  • Instead of dryers for our clothes, there are nice hanging racks in every laundry room.

  • Instead of karaoke bars, there are noraebangs, literally translated as singing rooms, where you can bust a move in the company of your closest friends and co-workers instead of total strangers. Although which groups is more likely to boo you off the stage is kind of a toss up.
  • Instead of a basket of bread with every meal, there's kimchi (well, until recently).
  • But for me, one of the biggest trade-offs is the entertainment drama. Considering the small but loyal group of followers to this blog, I will confess to my television vice at home: namely General Hospital, a long-standing and respectable soap opera (damn it).

Because of copyright laws, I am unable to stream basically any American television from Korea, including my beloved GH. However, the alternative has been right in front of me for weeks.

The lesson-to-lesson drama of our English curriculum's zany characters.

In every unit, there are video clips featuring several cartoon and real-life characters, who demonstrate the target language to students in the most over-reactive, unimaginative ways possible. So it's nothing short of inevitable that by the time class number 4 of the day rolls around, my mind is concocting some lavish background to the stories these characters are enacting.

At first, I thought I was nuts. But after speaking with other foreign teachers, I found out that they too were creating stories for their video clips.

Please meet Minsu (overzealous lookin' kid with the green tee) and friends, as depicted by a computer graphic circa 1946.

These characters teach students all about English through 1-minute anecdotes.

Most recently, I was startled by a lesson where Tony (blondie with the glasses and questionable overalls) meets Santa. Aside from the fact that it's the first week of October, this video (which I tried desperately to find online to no avail) disturbed me because Santa appears to be inebriated, waking Tony up from his sugar-plumb dreams when he mysteriously falls with a sickening thud on the floor of the living room in front of the tree.

In another video, Santa also suddenly appears on Julie's bed, sitting next to her to give her a doll. Can you say creepy?

The lesson, of course, is to get students to express what they want. But how can students concentrate on this lesson when they are scared for their lives that Santa is going to appear like a Christmas Eve ninja at the foot of their bed?

Here are one of the video clips featuring some real-life characters, Ann and Kevin:

Just to prove I'm not the only one convinced there's more going on in these videos: an account of the crazy drama between Kevin, Ann and Eujin, as told by my middle school teacher friend (who shall remain nameless to protect their identity)-
Eujin got a cellphone. Kevin did not answer when Eujin called, so Ann took a message. Later, Eujin called Kevin and told him she needed help fixing her computer, which Kevin agreed to. Kevin got tired of Eujin's constant calls and began screening them after she got her new cell phone. He hooks up with Ann, who does not know Eujin stalks Kevin, and she picks up the phone. She plays it off like she belongs there and takes a message.

Kevin is a serious jerk and never gives Ann his number after the best night of her life, so it turns out the only phone number Kevin seems to possess is Eujin's. He seriously cannot call anyone else. Kevin realizes how sad and lonely his little blond life is, and finally answers Eujin's call. A stalker is better than no company. He agrees to fix her computer in hopes of getting some, as he has also realized after his time with Ann that he is a hopeless sex addict.
Kevin and Eujin have been messed up ever since Eujin ran for class president she spent all her time campaigning, and then she got arrogant it was all a downward psychological spiral from there now look at them.

The lesson being taught, of course, is about who called who in the video. But how can students even concentrate when there is so much obvious tension between these characters? It's boggling.

Either way, I guess my daily dose of television drama is still available. No complaints here.

PS: Don't ask what that yellow guy is, but his name is Zeeto.
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  1. oh laura.. i am so happy that you have found your own ways to entertain yourself.. but i hope the kids dont get the same messages that you are getting.. haha : )
    miss you!

  2. oh my. sounds like my kind of TV!