Elwood 5566

Ben (3) Korean Teenagers

Posted in Education, Gender, Korean children, Uncategorized by 노강호 on August 23, 2010
Kim Jun-hyoek (김준혁)

Ben on a low

Ben has been up and down lately. At the end of last term he was on a massive high after passing a string of exams with 100%. One evening, on the day he received the marks for his final set of exams, he was  delirious with happiness and once again bouncing around the school declaring how he felt. In the UK I’d have assumed he was on drugs because British kids often down play any trait of intelligence as it can alienate them. And then, several days later, he finally got his reward for his efforts  in the form of two small puppies. For the next week he constantly assaulted my boss and I by thrusting his hand-phone in our faces to show us the latest series of puppy pictures. His accompanying leitmotiv was ‘my puppies, my puppies,’ made all the more endearing by a mild speech impediment which renders, ‘puppies,’ ‘puppish.’

Once the joys of owning a couple of puppies had subsided however, he became markedly strange in class and seemed to flit between happy and almost depressed. Neither was he very responsive when you tried to draw him out of his mood or ask its cause. The cause was obvious and one we’ve encountered on a number of occasions. Ben’s class consisted of 6 girls and two boys and the other boy, Kyle, had left Daegu for the summer vacation to attend an intensive study school: the equivalent of an academic boot-camp. Hence the root of Ben’s mood swings was the fact he was the only boy in the class.  Cherie and I tried to ride the problem for a little while but soon he was begging  for us to make changes so he wouldn’t be alone.

In a Korean setting class dynamics can change drastically if someone is older or younger than the other students, or, in the case, is the wrong gender. Kids lively and confident one moment can be  passive and introvert the next if a shift in personalities disadvantages them.  Because peer groups are not so important for British children, such problems do not arise. British kids can easily accommodate  friends  or fellow classmates, older or younger than themselves and a gender divide is not as noticeable as it is in the Korean class room.

and on a high

Ben, who is 16, was disturbed enough at being the only boy in the class that despite his recent academic success, we feared we might loose him when suddenly, a new boy arrived who was ideal to place alongside him.  Instantly, he returned to his old self and re-assumed his role as the class comedian but if ever the other boy is absent, he can quickly relapse into a sullen state.  I’ve spent so much time slagging off teenagers in my other blogs, I’m consoled by the realization I don’t dislike teenagers, just the ones who are rotten and rotten teenagers in Korea are rare. Ben is what Koreans might call a ‘flower-boy,’ or identify as ‘pretty,’ neither term being derogatory, though he might well be when older. If anything, his body is built like a chopstick and he looks closer to twelve than sixteen, a point the girls in the class often tease him on, but both my boss and I would love him for a son. Reading other K-blogs, I know many teachers share a similar regard for the nature and personality of Korean children and teenagers.

Creative Commons License© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

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2 Responses

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  1. iksplore said, on July 19, 2014 at 1:10 am

    Hey There!

    I am working on a blog post about crazy fun festivals and was wondering if I can use your photo of the Boryeong Mud Festial? Was this photo taken by you? If not who took it? I would love to link the photo back to the photographer or whoever has the rights to it.

    Thank you,

    Maizy

    • 努江虎-노강호 said, on July 19, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Naughty, naughty – I lifted it from somewhere without gaining prmission. No idea where it came from sorry. Good luck!


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