Expat Dribble

Andrea Avery Jackley: An expat with lots of dribble to write about.


I had almost convinced myself today that I might actually belong in Korea. This is hyperbole, of course; but when you’re a melanin-devoid foreigner living amongst one of the few cultures on earth that worships whiteness – and by this I mean the actual lacking of color, not necessarily race; Korean women use parasols to block their exposure to the sun – it’s easy to lose your head. My feelings are exacerbated by “my crew” of pre-teen girls who are quite taken with my looks. Score! 

This week is “special preparation” for middle-school and high-school students cramming for their all-important school exams at the haegwon. This happens fairly often, since Korean students seem to take more tests than showers (and I’m not insulting their hygiene, which is quite good). As a result of the preparation, conducted by the Korean teachers, my normal classes are replaced by one large room – and I do mean packed, wall-to-wall – of elementary students, all around the ages of 11 and 12; whom I teach for three hours straight. It’s a madhouse. 

Anyway, one of the members of “my crew” wrote me a letter at the end of class today that read: “Andrea is kind. She has a blond hair. She is beautiful. She is always smile. :)” I was so touched that I’m sure my blushing was as visible as a midnight traffic light.

But then, while I was at the market later on, a small boy of maybe four years ran up to me, pointed and screamed “Aaaahhhhh!”, and ran back to his mother’s side, as if he were horrified at the sight of me. She just giggled and walked away. So much for illusions. 

On a more serious note, President Obama met with South Korean President Lee Myung Bak (interesting: the hip term with the kids for the sitting president is “3 MB (megabyte)” because “Lee” means three in Chinese, and obviously Myung Bak = MB) this week to discuss further sanctions against North Korea. The tone was harsh, as was to be expected, which prompted more of the North’s indifferent attitude followed by their standard crazy declaration.

This time the North has stated that any interference with its ships – one in particular that is suspected of carrying weapons and/or weapon-making materials – would be considered an act of war. While everyone has heard this before from the Tyrannical Tootsies across the border, the talking heads and the Tweeters keep chirping that this time “things may be different.”

Of course Seoul is a mere hop, skip and a jump away from the DMZ, and would be the first target of either standing Kim (the present Jong Il or his successor, favorite son Jong Un). Additionally, there is speculation that the next “test” rocket launch by the North will be directed toward Hawaii. Of course the U.S. is prepared, and seeing that most of Kim’s rockets chug about twenty feet before taking a nosedive into the ocean; this too has been taken in stride. Nonetheless, it gives one pause. 

Anyway, I hope none of this interferes with my plans to attend the Mud Festival in Daegu in a couple of weeks. That would be a shame.


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