Warning, living in Korea can seriously inflate your ego. You could be the spawn of John Merrick and still be told that you are "a handsome man" on a daily basis. Granted this is generally by 10 year old boys but hey at my age, I'll take any compliments that are sent in my direction. Then there is the ritual parade through the village. Recently I have taken to wearing my headphones so that I don't have to endure the chanting of my name anymore. The novelty of rock star status soon wears thin let me tell you, in fact ask Victoria Beckham (hang on , bad example). I would like think that it is just me but I am assuming that is not. The kids in this country seriously love the the English speaking foreigner. I was alerted to this strange phenomenon on my first day in Korea, when hundreds of kids came to investigate my arrival to my school car park. I hear a fracas behind me and turn around to be mobbed by hundreds of kids "Hello, what is your name", "hello, how old are you", are you married?" - "no single" , gasp -shocked faces , "but you are so handsome" (brain ticks --well, thank you, could you please inform the female Western world for me).
I catch a bus to my second school on Thursdays and Fridays and have recently made a new friend at the bus stop. This is a young, well manicured man around 18 yrs of age. He first caught my attention when I saw him doing Tae kwondo kicks, using the bus shelter as his enemy. At this point I mentally labelled him as a thug and avoided his gaze. Miraculously, the next week he rather coyly crept up behind me and asked for my mobile number. In Korea the people generally only let their feelings out when they are rip roaringly drunk. In this case, the angst ridden teenager was trying to initiate contact in the only way he knew. After the initial conversation he sent me a text within the hour to say that he enjoyed our interesting conversation. To my knowledge he had not understood a word that I had said but i guess that could be deemed interesting. Anyway, fast forward 2 weeks (yesterday). I am stood waiting for the bus and the teenager in question comes darting down to the bus stop with sweat on his brow and an exaggerated breathing pattern. It is obvious that he has been in a rush although our bus is not due to arrive for 15 minutes. He sparks up the conversation by saying "Andy, Ive missed you so much". I've met the kid 3 times and he is already declaring that he has missed me. It is only now that I look down at his feet and notice that he appears to be wearing his mums slippers. He follows my gaze and immediately raises his hands to his head. It turns out that the kid was in such a rush to see me that he has run out of the house wearing his mums slippers. We laugh it off but there is no way that he is leaving me now. The bus arrives 15 minutes later and this guy, who was kicking the bus shelter with gusto a mere 2 weeks ago, now enters the bus adorned in his mums slippers. Today, he borrowed his dads car and drove me all the way to school. Innocent, bizarre and beautiful, I love this country.
Not to digress, let me begin to unravel the title of this story. Normally I teach enthusiastic 5th graders and "too cool for school" 6th graders. However on Thurs and Friday, I have 2 classes of 3rd graders (7 yrs old). Well, by god if I am a hero to the older students, I am a demi-god to the youngsters. In fact, so much of a demi-god that I am only allowed 15 mins with them as oppose to the 30 mins that I am paid to do. Apparently, if I do the allocated slot, they are too excited all afternoon and liable to wet themselves. I finish my 5/6th grader lessons and stealthily make my way down to the domain of the 3rd grader. On the 3rd floor there is a small staffroom which I use as my retreat but to get there I have basically got to run the gauntlet of 3rd graders. If I am spotted, which i always am, I have to take the hit and literally get mobbed by legions of small kids to whom, I'm a hero. Now, this may sound cute and for the first 2 minutes it is but after 10 minutes of being pulled in every direction by at least 50 kids, you start to fear for your life. It gets worse, somehow these little people have decided that it would be really good to get my autograph and I now spend 30 mins on Thurs and Fri signing autographs. I make a mental note of the length of the queue and 15 mins later look again whilst shaking my wrist to aid circulation of my overused limb. I realise that same children are turning up more than once and on many occasions they are asking for a minimum of three autographs. One little blighter wants ten autographs a week, apparently for his mum, dad, brothers, sisters and pet dog. Well, just when you thought this tale could not get more ridiculous, let me add the worst part of all.
I had been warned of the fabled arse rocket by fellow teachers but assumed that is was school specific. It was at least 3 weeks before I was anally assaulted. The young boys have come up with a little game which involves creeping around the floor in an army like manoeuvre, before popping up underneath me with their grubby little fingers in a rocket like formation (i.e 2 fingers protruding). This rocket has only one destination in mind and that is right up your arse hole. So I am signing autographs under duress, being dragged up and down the corridor by a battalion of kids, under the threat of an anal raid. Their strike rate is much more accurate than Operation Desert Storm, especially because I am visually impaired from the waist down and trying to sign autographs. They come from nowhere and once they start they cease to stop. Like a pack of hounds attacking a fox, a pride of lions summoning an antelope to it's death, a murder of vultures circling their carrion, these kids make their rectum sorties. How about the Korean teachers you ask? Well, they stand by and take in the spectacle. What better way to while away a Thursday and Friday afternoon than watching an Englishman getting anally prodded en masse?