Elwood 5566

Teenage Pluckers’ and Cottagers

Posted in Korean children, No Pumpkin Category by 노강호 on April 10, 2011

a sign of stress?

It was a personal opinion and I’m not generalizing, but I was once told the worst affliction for a Korean teenage, one worse than acne, was grey hair. I rarely see Korean girls preening themselves or each other to the extent that occurs in British schools but the occasional group plucking usually among girls, but occasionally boys, is not uncommon. Whether grey hairs are a sign of stress I am unsure but Koreans believe them to be so.

As all waygukin know, Korean kids are fascinated with the bodies of westerners and especially with body hair. I have a girl in one class who will regularly play with my fingers and pinch out any bits of skin from around my nails. Another boy will check my eyebrows and pluck out any straggly hairs. I don’t know how long it takes other western teachers to become oblivious, if at all, to the increased levels of physical contact between teachers and pupils; I ceased judging it by British standards a long time ago.

Sometimes however, Korean inquisitiveness goes too far for western sensibilities. Not once have I used the boys toilets in my school as we have ones specifically for staff but when a repairman was resident last week and I was bursting, I slipped into the boys toilets and immediately two middle school boys who had been leaving, turned back. Despite positioning my back to them, which in mid flow is all I can do as I am too tall to hide between the sides of the urinal, one ventured to the side of me. Undeterred either by my embarrassment or suggestions to ‘fuck off,’ he simply starred.  Was this cheeky inquisitiveness, blatant cottaging or urophilia? I wasn’t angry and there was something comical about the incident. In all however, one of the minor embarrassments of life in Korea and for those waygukin unable to ditch their cultural prejudices, it is probably an incident that can only be understood in relation to perversion (hence the pumpkin logo above.) I shared the incident with my boss; she found it very amusing.

 

a greater degree of physical intimacy

And if ever your shoulders and back are tense simply ask a student for a massage. Korean kids, and indeed Koreans in general are as eager to pummel your shoulders and back as British kids are to arm wrestle though in my absence from the British education system, that too might now be taboo.

a group plucking during a break

FURTHER REFERENCES TO SKINSHIP WITHIN THIS BLOG

It’s All in the Touch (April 2010) Also in podact

Korean Teenager (Ben 2) And Other Stuff (June 2010)

When ‘Gay’ is ‘Gay’ (June 2010)

Who Really Worships the Wang (October 2010)

Laura (3) Korean Teenagers – Magical Moments (Oct 2010)

Bathhouse Zen (1) Dec 2010

Bathhouse Zen (2) (Dec 2010)

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2011 Creative Commons Licence.

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3 Responses

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  1. wetcasements said, on April 12, 2011 at 3:15 am

    When I taught in a hagwon I’d lean over the table to work with the students. I was a total distraction though, because the kids — boy or girl, young or older — would become absolutely fascinated with the hair on my forearms (and I’m not _that_ hairy).

    Some of them would kind of stroke it a little, and this creeped me out beyond words.

    • Nick said, on April 13, 2011 at 4:35 am

      Unfortunately this does seem our culture response!

  2. Charles said, on April 13, 2011 at 2:27 am

    Back in the 90s, I was catching a train in Puyo and had to use the restroom. When I went up to the urinal, I swear, every man in the restroom came and stood to either side of me trying to get a look at what I had in my hands.

    I’m a bit pee-shy, so this curiosity really wasn’t helping me relieve my bladder. Worse, for the first time, I started wondering if my stuff was up to par. 🙂


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