Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Great Classes, Mekchu, and San Nac Chi

As is becoming common in Korea, I had another epic, adventurous day yesterday. It started on Monday night when my main contact at Youngnam Elementary, Kwon Mi-hye, called and told me that 3rd and 4th grade were finished with the textbook and wanted me to prepare a lesson to teach to those classes. It may seem like short notice, but I was actually very excited. I have been tossed around like a rag doll, never knowing what I would do for the day at Youngnam. Now I actually had a chance to plan my own lesson there.

The Lesson
I started with my usual warm up. I tell them good morning (or afternoon), ask them how they are, and ask them about the weather. The weather here is so often sunny that when it is overcast and dreary, like yesterday, they still rattle off "It's sunny!" as if it's the only thing they know how to say. So I give them an exaggerated look like they're crazy and they giggle and say, "It's cloudy!"

Youngnam has a lot of materials, including magnetic panels depicting scenes of various weather. So after the warm-up I asked them how the weather was in each panel and then had them put magnetic game pieces with umbrellas, gloves, snowmen, suns, clouds, and fans in the right place by telling me where they go. By the end of this part, the kids are noticeably bored with weather, so I move on.

I then go into Hangman and tell the kids that the answer is their next game. They are very excited. Korean kids absolutely LOVE Hangman, and it teaches them spelling and phonics. Many kids could not connect the meaning between letters and sounds when I got here, but they certainly can now. The answer to the hangman was "drawing."

The drawing game was simple, but very effective. The class was divided into 3 teams. One team sends up an artist to draw something on the board that they know how to say in English, then their team has to say the word. They have to do this within 10 seconds. If they say it correctly, the artist draws a card from a deck of playing cards. You get however many points you draw, face cards being worth 10. I threw in a catch: if you speak Korean while at the board, your team loses two points. I added this rule when I realized kids were drawing a face card and excitedly shouting out "SHIP!" which means 10 in Korean. In the last round, the points are doubled. Obviously, the team with the most points wins. The kids loved this game, and the teachers loved me.

My teacher's went out to dinner to say goodbye to Mr. Choi, one of our administrators. He was leaving for another school and yesterday was his last day. We had some sam gyup sal (grilled pork) and nang myun (spicy, cool noodles). It was delicious, and I celebrated my great day at Youngnam with a beer or two. The outgoing Mr. Choi also poured me a shot of Soju, as did my vice principal. It was a wonderful dinner, and at the end I was ready to go home and rest a bit. I thought the night was over. I was very wrong.

Nore Bang
Like usual, we ended up at an ENORMOUS nore bang (private song room, or Karaoke), where the staff immediately brought in somewhere between 20 and 30 bottles of beer and set them on the table. I was astounded that our principal had ordered that much beer, so you can understand my amazement when they rolled in 30 more. Mind you, these are not your standard 16 oz bottles. They are enough for 2 0r 3 glasses of beer each. And there were only about 15 of us. We did, of course, drink almost all of it. After all, it's rude in Korea not to finish your food.

San Nac Chi
I stumbled out of the nore bang and had to stand there for a second to see if I would be able to walk any further or if someone would have to carry me. I had mentioned earlier that my friends have eaten san nac chi, but that I had not tried it. This prompted a quest from my staff to find it for me. Ok...enough beating around the bush. What is it? It's octopus. LIVE octopus. Live, wriggling, sticky, chewy, slimy octopus. And it's actually quite delicious. I watched the chef struggle with the whole creature in the kitchen. She rinsed it, pulled it straight, laid it down, and took a cleaver to it. Within the minute, we had a full plate of wriggling tentacle. With each bite, I could feel the suction cups sticking to my cheek. As many of my friends have stated before--it's the only food that fights back.

The teachers I was there with also ordered another bottle of beer and a bottle of soju, but for the first time, I felt comfortable enough to refuse. To be fair, none of them really drank it either. Mrs. Lee, our designated driver for the the evening, then took everyone home, where I passed out, and awoke the next morning surprisingly refreshed. My teachers told me the san nac chi would invigorate me, and I guess they were right.

Moral of the evening:
Wanna avoid a hangover? Grab some live octopus.

Once more, I apologize for the lack of pictures. I still do not own a camera. I will post videos of the san nac chi the next time we go to eat it, which we will because Sara has not tried it yet.


  1. I'm so happy for you that you were able to do anything you wanted at Youngnam for once. It must have been a refreshing change from the usual hectic atmosphere.

    Oh, the octopus. I'll do it one of these days. You forgot to add the part when you finally got home last night, walked over to me and said "Hold me. I can still feel it wiggling in my stomach."

  2. You are a very brave boy. The part about the octopus suctioning to your mouth is yukkie. Hearing about how the kids love hangman is fun. Occasionally, we play it with our students and they love. Some things are universal.

    Are the Koreans all alcoholics?

  3. LOL Sara!
    I was wondering the same thing Leslee...

  4. um... ps... I'd rather have the hangover :-)

  5. Keep drinking the beer Scott!
    Nice guitar toon too.
    When are you trying DOG!
    You know you can get it.
    Post more pictures too if you can
    AKA Bok Wor Lung

  6. Your a better person than I am. I think your mom might be right.


  7. San Nac Chi
    I almost cried when I read that...the poor octopus.
    I also almost gagged...astonishingly contrasting emotions. Thanks. I feel human.

  8. I did just send up a small prayer for that helpless octopus, btw. Laugh if you must, but someone's gotta do it.