Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Me and My Big Mouth

Sometimes people say all kinds of crap without thinking about it too much.

This blog is a case in point. I just speak my mind, when I should just sit quietly.

This morning around the water cooler Mrs. Ji said:

Mr. Waeg! You look so tired and sad! Cheer up! We Koreans say that April is the cruelest month; do not worry so much! Soon things will be better!

I stopped and looked at her then I asked: that's very interesting Mrs. Ji, and thank you for your concern. I do wonder though: why do you think Koreans say that?

Ah, Mr. Waeg, it must be because of our agrarian past! By April, most of the food saved for the winter is gone, and new growth hasn't begun yet. April is surely a lean month, so this is why we say that.

Yes, lilacs out of the dead land, and all that, yes? Tell me Mrs. Ji, have you read T.S. Elliot's "Wasteland"? Great poem.

I open the poem on my phone and show it to her.  She reads the first few sentences, quickly hands my phone back to me, and walks away.

Now I'm sure Mrs. Ji is mad at me.  She wouldn't look at me and is obviously stewing.  She was simply trying to make small talk and be nice, and instead of just accepting it, I became asshole incarnate.  Who knows, maybe there is a Korean saying that is the same, just as I'm sure April Fool's must have it's origins in Korea as one of my other coworkers informed me last week.  So why?  I was still thinking about last hwaesik, when she also said that I obviously did not like kimchi since I had not eaten any during dinner.  Usually I don't eat kimchi in most restaurants since it is garbage and not that tasty, but I wondered why she would say that after knowing me for so long.  Odd.

Now, I do believe that stupidity is a universal constant, and I'm hoping she won't hold a grudge against me and that her panties aren't in a knot about it.  From experience, these types of conversation never end well.  You can't win and its best to just smile.  When will I ever learn?


Baek In-je said...

She is a robot, just like all the rest. A copy of a copy of a copy. So, she knows you a long time, but makes a wide sweeping generalization about you from one dinner? Absurd.
She then unknowingly tries to pass off the first line of a famous poem as a Korean proverb? Complete with fabricated background? I wouldn't have anything to do with this woman. She will generalize a future incident into 'Mr. Waeg doesn't like Korean people', and spread those lies about you. Avoid her.

F5Waeg said...

speaking of generalizations. . .

I prefer to think that she was simply misinformed. Not entirely her fault that she probably was told this in school years ago, all about having pride, yes?

I can only hope the current generation is being taught how to more critically evaluate random 'facts'.

Baek In-je said...

"I can only hope the current generation is being taught how to more critically evaluate random 'facts'."

Are you being sarcastic?

F5Waeg said...

naw, just optimistic. Must have been something I ate.

Anonymous said...

haha I was asked to settle a debate between two teachers last week about whether or not we had celebrated April Fool's Day in America when I was a child. The teacher who was wrong was pretty shocked. But hey, atleast one of them was insisting it wasn't invented in Korea.

F5Waeg said...

Yeah, it's odd how I've heard repeatedly many Koreans talk about April Fool's Day as a Korean tradition.

The first time was back in the days when I worked at a 'top' university: a student gave an English presentation on this wonderful Korean holiday, April Fool's Day, and how it should be exported to other countries. I made her cry when I proved to her where it actually came from, and as a consequence received my lowest evaluation from that class. Oh well.

Chewie6577 said...

Interestingly enough, this has come up at my high school. I mentioned Eliot's poem and its "April is the cruelest month" line to some of my students when April came last year and my co-teacher was kind enough to provide a Korean translation. He never mentioned anything about a "story" behind it.

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