HoT sTuff!

Kimchi, Koreans, and I

Posted in asia, culture, koreans by Kenji on April 10, 2008

I want snow. I want soju. I want Ramyeon. I hate kimchi.

I am Ralphy(랄피). I have been working for Korean-manned companies for a long time. I wasteaching Koreans in ELSA-International Language Center, one of the English academies in Cebu, City, when I decided to quit and try my luck and join an online ESL-teaching company. Now, I am here.

My first encounter with Koreans wasn¡¯t one of those nice-to-meet-you instances. That experience has been so globby as kimchi smell stinging to your clothes and bitter as a shot of soju. In fact, I almost decided to trod a different way when I had one cruddy remark from a member of the Sandaran(»ê´Ù¶ó¹Ú) race. How could that good-for-nothing b**ch say those words to me! Uh huh¡¦Probably due to that single bad instance and with the prejudice that I had that this race are among those selfish Asians claiming that Filipinos are rather Pacific Islanders than Asians that I had to feel bad. But if I had one single detestable experience, I¡¯ve got a bunch of nice-to-meet-you¡¯s. Needless to say, this race did their share in my life.

I could barely differentiate this race from Chinese and Japanese- a thing which a common Filipino usually experiences. Can you just imagine whom to say ¡°Anyonghasaeyo!¡± when I see a Japanese, a Korean, and a Chinese meeting me at Robinson¡¯s. I can¡¯t help but utter ¡°Moshimoshi¡±, ¡°Anyong¡±, and ¡°Ni hau¡± for fear of being spanked and to play safe. But you see, Koreans¡¯ respect for their elders sets them apart from their Asian neighbors. I couldn¡¯t say that it is a totally positive trait ¡®coz sometimes it goes to the extent that privacy and freedom are at risk since they, in its truest sense, ¡°have to¡± follow whatever their elders say, another thing in which we Filipinos don¡¯t practice. A one-year gap between peers matters a lot so they can¡¯t be called ¡°friends¡±. Flimsy it probably is, but that¡¯s the sad truth. A truth which can neither be good nor bad.

Another noteworthy thing is how Koreans devote themselves to work. I have heard innumerable complains from my students on how Filipino store cashiers work too slowly. I don¡¯t know whether to feel bad or just laugh at it because that is the truth. In these situations, instead of beating them one by one, I¡¯d just give them a brow-beaten hypothesis that probably it¡¯s because the Philippines is hot and that we are used to working this way for fear of getting drenched with sweat. How baseless and lame! So, I¡¯d give credits to them because of their passion for work, drive for success, and seemingly endless motivation. They sleep late. It¡¯s just funny that they don¡¯t get up early.

Some say Koreans love love but others say they don¡¯t. I have witnessed how let¡¯s-meet-now-tomorrow-we-won¡¯t kind of romance turned to a serious i-will-love-you-forever thing. Does everything end up in a happy and Cinderella-inspired ending? A few. They say, a Korean man¡¯s life in the Philippines would never be complete without KTV and bikini bars and a lot of girls, girls, and girls. The women? Some become regular patrons to gaybars. What¡¯s at stake? A night of enjoyment at the expense of one¡¯s money. Who would blame these people when everything here is laid out and free they are as a bee to do what they want without fear of being reprimanded by their elders? How would Korean parents react when they see a kiss mark proudly displayed on their son¡¯s nape and neck?

The Surgery thing comes next.

Koreans don¡¯t know how I envied their eyes-small, chinky-whatever you may call them. In one of the pages of, I was stunned when I saw the phrase stating that a Korean man would not marry a Korean girl who hasn¡¯t undergone surgery and Korean girls would ask their moms to undergo surgery for fear that they might look different and people would suspect. An overstatement that was but doesn¡¯t that share a piece of truth? If eye-trade were possible, why not? You can even have skin-color trade! Oh huh!

And of course, English. This is why I have met them.

I thought I have been so incapable to teach until I met them. I had never thought English is hard but I changed my mind when I met them. I thought my English pronunciation was damn fine until that very moment I ran-in with them. In short, by any means, they have helped me. I never dreamt to be a teacher or in any profession related to instruction(my major is Agricutlure). I never wanted to be trusted because I¡¯ve never learned to believe in myself. Teaching is a far cry. English seemed to be so easy for me then. Well, everything changed and my brain began to be racked as they ask strenuous, ball-buster, off the subject questions. Those tormented me. I was even more pissed when they commented on my pronunciation, asking me why I don¡¯t have the aimed Americanized twang. My goodness! 아이 돈트 헤브 닷 악센트 (ayi dontu habu datu eksentu). Spare me!

But as all these things came to my brain, I have come to realize that at a certain point, my students have been right. I am a teacher so it¡¯s my duty to answer any questions even when questions go out of this world. I just remember my student asking if ¡°bus¡± is plural because of its ¡°s¡±. Honestly, that was the most stupid but the best question ever thrown to me by any student. About my pronunciation? Uh huh. Still in progress, huh. But I have learned to deviate from the normal ¡°You are very BAD!¡± (À¯ ¾Æ º£¸® ¹Ùµå) pronounced with a hard ¡°a¡± by common Filpinos to À¯ ¾Æ ¹è¸® º£µå, with a soft ¡°a¡±. Can¡¯t you see how they have affected me? I could say I have developed my confidence for a good command of the English language, huh. I also learned Hangul from them and I’ve got cyworld. I love my cyworld more than my friendster.¤»¤»¤»

Now, I still opt to work for another Korean-manned company. Why not? I have started to like them but I¡¯ll never learn to like Kimchi.

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