For those who might not know, I'm teaching elementary school here. I teach 4 days a week at Dongbu Elementary, grades 3-6. It is a small school (only about 120 students), but they are great kids. Each and every one is dedicated and friendly. Of course, they are children, and they do get out of line, but they are quick to fall back in and are laughing off their disobedience right away. Plus, they bring me chocolate. (score!) On Tuesdays, I will be going to Yeongnam Elementary. I haven't been there yet, so I'll post impressions when I do.
I just witnessed my first school assembly. I was asked to introduce myself, so I gave a short speech about where I'm from and why I'm here. It was translated by my main co-teacher Che Hyuen Bum. The students seemed mildy excited to see me, even though they have seen me many times before, but that isn't the reason for this post.
These kids are in the frickin' military! They stand, single-file, with as little movement as possible. Then, a lead student shouts commands at the students and they fall into a militaristic trance as they stand straight, salute their flag, and stand at ease. Hyuen Bum tells me that this is a tradition lasting from the Japanese invasion and occupation of Korea in the early 20th century. Since that was not a very pleasant time for Korea, it shocks me that they still practice it. Perhaps as the older educators retire and young, Korean blood is brought into the schools, this is a tradition that will fade, and new traditions will arise.
Now, I must go, as my daily milk has arived, and I must enjoy it.