Greetings everyone, it’s been a while since you last heard from us, and even longer since you heard from me. We’ve been pretty busy getting things in order around here, on the personal side of things, we have both been inexplicably busy lately. We’re thinking about the future, and trying to get things in order to apply for our next job. Those of you who follow me on twitter probably know I was at home for about two weeks over the Thanksgiving holiday. My grandma was undergoing surgery for pancreatic cancer and my return home was an emergency trip to be with her and my family while she prepared for and recovered from the Whipple Procedure. Now that it’s Christmas, Danielle is at home with her family, and my brother Tony arrived earlier this week to visit during my winter break.
In addition to working on some backend upgrades on this site, we’ve been collaborating with Anna and Andre (Seoulful Adventures) on the first of a series of journalism projects. We are currently putting together a story about the large Filipino community in and around Seoul and Incheon, centered around the weekly Filipino Market in Hyewha. Last weekend the four of us went out to the market and put in about five hours of interviewing and learning about the market, and the people who work and visit it. The project is the first of many to be produced under the umbrella of a new organization called International Underground. We hope to have the Filipino Market story up, and launch the full site soon. We’ll have more details here for sure. In the mean time, you can subscribe to the email list or the site’s RSS feed in the reader of your choice.
Creating International Underground does not mean that Schoolhouse: ROK will disappear. On the contrary, it means we will be able to focus on bringing you news and analysis from this site, but also do more broadly targeted, and more in-depth journalism, reporting unique stories, from among a community of journalists located in the Seoul area, and eventually around the world.
Thank you for reading, happy holidays, and stay tuned.
Do you ever wake up in the morning, pour some milk into a bowl of cereal, and think, “Hmm, I wonder what on Earth children in South Korea eat for breakfast?” Find the responses to this query and plenty of other questions about the daily life of a student in South Korea in this video created by fellow teacher Seth Mattern.
Seth is a certified educator in the United States, and after the logistics of international pen-pal projects and video exchanges proved too messy, he created this website with another teacher in Colorado as a convenient forum for cultural exchange between students the world over.
In addition to this, which I imagine is only the first of many videos to be posted in the future, poke around the website to read some essays by both Korean and American students, and responding comments. If you’re an educator anywhere in the world, and are interested in participating in the site, just send an e-mail and I would be thrilled to put you in touch with the appropriate people. Even if you’re not an educator, I know the kids would love to read any comments and answer any questions you may have.
These students are in fourth and fifth grade and recorded this around 8:00 at night, since they stay at our school until 9. You’ll find that later nights and longer hours spent in schools of all varieties are not the only differences between Korean and North American students. And as for breakfast in Korea, I’ll let the kids speak for themselves, but I suspect many will be surprised by their answers. Enjoy!
As Barack Obama’s scheduled visit to Seoul approaches, and bilateral talks between North Korea and the U.S. are in the works, it would seem the winds are shifting towards increased diplomacy. An incident today between North and South Korean naval bodies suggests otherwise, as the two countries exchanged gunfire for the first time in seven years.
“North and South Korean naval vessels exchanged fire in disputed waters off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, leaving one North Korean vessel engulfed in flames, South Korean officials said.”
Considering the magnitude a few shots could have between these two countries, especially when North Korean vessels cross borders they contest, but the majority of the international community respects, the day unfolded normally. The attack occurred before school began, and not one student or co-worker brought it up. Civil defense sirens did not ring in the streets, pausing cars at the curb (something that actually has happened in the time I’ve been here as a drill) as aircraft fly overhead. As volatile as our newly assumed neighbors to the north are, the South’s steadiness is comforting. When the Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff issues the statement that, “We are fully prepared for further provocations from the North Korean military,” there’s little doubt that South Korea does not train every able male countrywide solely in the name of male bonding. I suspect the calm of the streets will continue. We shall see just how “conciliatory” North Korea is feeling.
Last month was my first with a new batch of students and classes. I am now teaching all the elementary grades we have at our hogwon. I teach a different subject to each of my classes and it is only a little frustrating.