The Korean Workplace, Part II

This is Ham

Part I is here.

Friday in the Far East. Good afternoon. I’m in the office and a male teacher is beating a seventh-grader over the head with a wooden switch. The kid had cigarettes. A year ago this would have shocked me. Now I hit kids all the time. Just the class clowns. Just a quick smack on top of the head. It’s fine; their puffy mushroom haircuts absorb the impact. I’m not a monster. But Good God, have I missed being a bully. Meanwhile back in America you’ve got teachers going to prison because they bulged their eyes out at young suburban prince. “Assault.” Whatever happened to violence. Whatever happened to the American Way of exploding our problems. Why coddle the young. Why give them a superpower by removing corporal punishment.

Anyway. The Koreans. The women never, ever shut the fuck up. Incessant off-key wailing. There’s no emergency,
nothing is on fire or anything; that’s just how they talk. Imagine The View, always on, at full blast with the volume knob broken off, in every room in the country. Ham, the “technology” teacher, sits across from me. He’s a gray man cut from a Santa mold, and his head actually does resemble a large ham. He naps frequently and I think his memory is re-set every time he falls asleep, because every time he wakes up he asks me the same two questions: 1) do you eat breakfast? And 2) why you not marriage?

I answer this question by sweeping an arm at the harpies twittering next to us. This is why, Ham. By virtue of being white and having a pulse I could be nuts deep in Korean snatch 24/7 if so chose, but then I’d have to listen to them before and after the deed. And not that American girls are any better. Bring one home and she wakes up you up watching Vines at 8:30 A.M. Then she has “stories” to tell about EDM festivals. I put “stories” in quotes because a story is supposed to have a beginning and middle and end. American girls’ stories don’t have middles or ends. Or beginnings. The one guarantee is that the last sentence will be: “and I was like, uh! Wow!” This, at 8:30 A.M. As revenge I put them on the wrong bus that takes them up north to the DMZ.

Man. Every kid here is smarter than me. Ruthless Sith Lord parents who force them to play Mozart-level piano before their balls drop. Meanwhile, I have a blog. That’s all I got. Why weren’t my parents Korean. I don’t even speak Korean because fuck it, that’s why. Which means I effectively have the lowest IQ in the building.

But I’m that worried about it. As the West implodes I’ll just drink beer over here in the lifeboat. Ham just asked what I was doing this weekend. I pointed to the women and then made an “I can’t hear you” gesture and we both laughed. Then I saw a deep vicarious longing in his eyes. Wait, he really wants to know what I’m doing this weekend. I saw horror in his eyes too. Ham is a man afraid of quitting time, and what awaits him at home. I read the other day that Koreans drink seven million bottles of soju a night. And I think now I understand why.


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4 thoughts on “The Korean Workplace, Part II

  1. I’m thinkin’ I won’t comment on the remarks about women, Korean or otherwise. For now. Just ’cause.

    But I can tell you that corporal punishment has lived on in the US for a lot longer than Northern metropolitan areas may lead you to believe. Moving from Chicago to the suburbs of Nashville, TN (back in Jr High) I was shocked to find out first hand. Not quite first hand — nobody hit me. But in Chicago, teachers couldn’t so much as grab a child’s arm without risking their job. While in our semi-rural Southern town, each teacher had a large wooden paddle with holes drilled in to reduce wind resistance. They used them too! Except the tiny science teacher, Mrs. Willoughby. She called in the Shop teacher. He hit so hard that he was restricted to one swing per paddling. It was always the same kids. And they’d come back smiling like it was nothing but you could see the pain well up in their eyes. I’ll have to ask a friend if they still paddle in school there these days. I know some parents still do.

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