Elwood 5566

Punishing Naughty Students with Ai-Sh-Yo! (아이셔)

Posted in Food and Drink, Korean children, Uncategorized, video clips by 노강호 on May 5, 2011

Specially for Children’s Day! In every box of Ai-sh-yo, is an intensely sour gum. You can’t distinguish the gross one from the others in the box. If you want to punish your students or get some pleasure after they’ve pestered you all week for Children’s Day candy,  you can do so in this random manner.

In Seoul you can’t smack them, but you can feed them an Aishyo

Yea, I know my Korean is shitty! And here are some photos capturing the moment.




 Further References

A Candy for Teacher

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A Candy for the Teacher

Posted in Food and Drink, Korean children by 노강호 on April 28, 2011

the tangy candy version

What’s that noise you make in your language when you’ve eaten something intensely sour, like lemon or a kumquat which isn’t sweet enough to rescue your distaste? In English-English it might be ‘shhh-it!’ In Korean it’s ‘ai-sh-yo’ (아이셔), though in practice it probably sounds more like  ‘ ai-shhhhh-yo!’  The duration of the ‘sh’ a measure of intensity.  Not sure what I mean?  Let me elucidate; this is ‘sh-it!’  or ‘ai-sh-yo!’:

Apart from being the sound to accompany something unpleasantly sour, like munching on a lemon,  Ai-sh-yo is also the name of a  chewy confectionary. Kids love to give these candies to teachers and they can be considered the Korean equivalent, innocent and friendly, of spitting in your coffee or putting a tack on your seat. When I was first offered them I noticed a strange expectation on students’ faces, a twinkle in their eyes and the slight anticipatory twitch of a smile but took little notice; I’m orally fixated and the candy was quite nice, initially a little tart and tangy but quickly rescued by sweetness as you continue to chew. I’d eaten quite a few over the week until I discovered their more sinister purpose

I was busy chewing, waiting for the sweetness to  curb the rapidly soaring sensation of  intensified sourness… Then I realised, with a curse, ai-shhhh (the Korean equivalent of ‘fuck!’), that there wasn’t an iota of sweetness in it but  a solely nasty sourness.  My students were in hysterics by the time I spat it into a tissue.

Yes, in every blue packet of the gum, 450 Won (about 25 pence) exists one surprise candy that is simply revoltingly sour. The yellow packet is a tart candy that starts off sour but mellows.

an 'ai-sh-yo' face

and another...

the blue packet is the most entertaining

‘Ai-shhhhhhhh-yo!’ ‘Super sour flavour in it.’

Further references

Punishing Naughty Students with an Aishyo

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Just…(그냥) More Bad English and a Nazi Collaborator

Posted in Just - 그냥 by 노강호 on April 11, 2011


One of my friends discovered this wonderful example of bad English in downtown Daegu, a few weekends ago. This isn’t just a little gaff, it’s total nonsense. And who cares what Coco Chanel had to say, she was a super rich bitch Nazi collaborator whose past continues to be rewritten. Her talents, like that of many celebrities past and present, would quickly have been exposed by a vigorous facial with a cheese-grater.

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Coco Chanel and the Nazis (The Times April 2009)

The Sad Implications of an Hilarious Photo

Posted in 'Westernization' of Korea, Comparative by 노강호 on April 6, 2011

ha ha! Excellent, if not ironic

This is too funny to be true!  Should I even find it funny?  Before I suppress the urge to rant about cultural contamination, I have to consider it either posed or possibly taken anywhere in the world where a few Asian kids have gathered. Sadly, it looks like it could actually be a Korean elementary school. The more au-fait the former ‘Hermit Kingdom’  becomes with the West, the more I am exposed to language such as ‘puc’ or ”puc you,’ all uttered with the typical Korean kiddy innocence. I am waiting for the first time I hear the most offensive of all four letter words, which as yet I doubt have ever been uttered on Korean soil.


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A Few of my Favourties

Posted in Just - 그냥 by 노강호 on March 16, 2011

I’m feeling lazy today and so I’ve posted a few of my favourite photos focusing on bad translations, most from Engrish.com.

5th place: This one is 'ten a penny' and I noticed today one of my local restaurants is serving 'crap meat spaghetti'

4th place: One away from Pocari Sweat'

3rd place: 'Yes, I can't' would have been a closer direct translation

2nd place: really?

1st place: an 'all you can eat restaurant,' perhaps?

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Just…(그냥) Funny Responses

Posted in Just - 그냥, Teaching by 노강호 on March 13, 2011

is this for real?


So, I gave one of my classes a quiz yesterday afternoon and a number of questions were on completing sequences. ‘Sunday, Saturday, Friday?’ I ask one student. ‘He replies, ‘yesterday!’

Later, I ask a student to describe ‘toothpaste.’ His answer, ‘toothbrush sauce!”

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A Tale of Philosophers and Carrots

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Education, esl, Korean language, taekwon-do, taekwondo by 노강호 on March 8, 2011

podcast 74

There is a Korean ‘idiom, dang-guen-i-ji (당근이지 – that’s the carrot, or absolutely!). Now, this isn’t directly borrowed from English but is apparently a development, by children, of dang-hyeon ha-ji (당연 하지 – absolutely!) If you say them repeatedly and alternatively, dang-guen-i-ji is definitely easier.

dang-guen (당근) the carrot, a familiar Korean crudité

So, one day I am buying something in a shop and use my newly acquired idiom and proudly ‘joke, ‘ ‘dan-goon-i-chi ‘(단군이지). The old lady serving gives me a funny look, no doubt amazed at my ability to use colloquial Korean. That day, I use the phrase several times and not just overdo its use but probably use it in slightly odd situations and this, so I believe, accounts for the bemused faces it induces.

Dan Goon (단군), legendary founder of Korea, 2333 BC

A week or so later, I use it after having my hair cut and then I discover, I’ve been confusing the Dan-goon Wang-geom (단군왕검), the revered emperor-philosopher with dang-guen (당근), the common carrot. In translation, I suppose Dan Goon-i-ji might be rendered, ‘that’s the Socrates,’ or ‘that’s the Wittgenstein,’ depending on your current taste in philosophical schools. I should have realised my mistake earlier as I have a long history of confusing the legendary founder of Korea with Bugs Bunny’s favourite crudité.

Part of the course in learning a language is that you make mistakes and some of them can be amusing even if they do cause embarrassment.  I’m probably quite famous in the area in which I live for entertaining locals with my bumblings.  One of the local Monday morning market vendors was very bemused when she realised that the ‘eagle jelly’ I was asking for, was in fact ‘acorn jelly’ and on more than one occasion I’ve asked for, ‘some thinking,’ rather than ‘some ‘ginger.’

I’ve been there so many times! (link to Lulu)

In English the sounds ‘kan’ (간) and ‘kang’ (강) or  ‘tan’ (탄) and ‘tang’ (탕) are very easy to distinguish but this is not the case in Korean. For years I’ve heard and read silly arguments between western taekwondo students quibbling about the transliteration of terminology into English without realizing that the relationship between many Korean letters and English ones is an approximation and that many simply cannot be effectively captured with a letter of the English alphabet. English script isn’t adequate enough to differentiate the sounds  of its own language let alone those of another  as is borne out by the discrepancies between the ‘a’ in ‘cat and ‘father’ which result in disagreements between those speaking northern  and southern variations of British English.  Koreans for example, finalise a word ending in ‘n’ with the tongue between their teeth and distinguishing between some sounds often necessitates watching the mouth closely. So, I often mispronounce ‘soy-sauce’ and end up asking for ‘liver sauce’ and confuse ‘soup’ with ‘briquette.’ ‘The reason I’ve spent so long mispronouncing Dan Goon (단군) is because it was one of the first 10 Korean words I learnt some 30 years ago when I began training in taekwon-do. Many non-Korean TKD teachers mispronounce the word because the transliteration often rendered it ‘Dan Gun.’ If you want to pronounce Korean accurately you have to learn the Korean script or at least study the systems of transliteration used closely so as to avoid simply producing ‘approximate’ pronunciations.


And then there’s ‘ddong’ ( 똥 – shit)!  A westerner only has to attempt the combination ‘dong’  (동 – east) to elicit laughter and hence ‘dong-sa’ (동사 – verb) and ‘dong-wui-o’ (동의어 – synonym) have the potential to temporarily disrupt English lessons.  Maybe it’s just my lack of ability, but it seems no matter how hard you try, Korean kids seem to choose to hear ‘dong’  (east) as ‘ddong’ (shit).

and I love mandu

Some Koreans, can be quite cruel in their derision should you attempt to speak their language and even ‘sounding’ a word  or phrase in a Korean manner, can elicit sniggers and subsequent mimickery.  I’ve even known friends write my blunders down so they can  narrate them to others but I don’t mind as I too have learnt such blunders, regardless of nationality, are cute and on occasion my pen comes out to record  mistakes.

First, there are the obvious ones:

I’m fine – I’m pine

I like fish – I like pish.

Last week a new student appeared in a class and a student informed me, ‘there is a new pace in the class.’

‘I like crab’ usually always sounds like, ‘I like crap.’

And there is always the older boy who tries to impress you with his knowledge of ‘naughty English’ and proudly states, ‘puk-you! On the subject of four letter vulgarity, ‘vacuum cleaner’ becomes ‘pak-um creaner.’

How about, ‘make a mistake,’ which students often repeat as ‘make a steak’ or similarly, ‘be careful,’ which becomes ‘big apple.’ I hadn’t thought of combining the two but there’s a  laugh  when I want to exact some revenge; ‘be careful not to make a mistake’ – ‘big apple not to make a steak.’

However, the one I remember best was years ago when a colleague was teaching a class to sing, Queen’s, ‘We Will Rock You.’ The kids were thoroughly enjoying the sing along as they loudly sang,  ‘we will, we will LOCK you.’

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Nothing God Makes is Useless

Posted in Comparative, Entertainment, Korean children by 노강호 on March 3, 2011


more stuff on Korean pooh

I’ve read Puppy Pooh (강아지똥), politely renamed in English, The Dandelion Story, in Korean, I have the book, and though I didn’t understand much, the pictures were great. Naming it the Dandelion Story, as the play production was named in Edinburgh, so as not to offend British sensibilities, does a great job of predicting the direction the story is going to take. If I was the author I’d be pissed off at a title that destroys all expectations before you even get a chance to formulate them.

I recommend watching the animation in Korean before watching it in English; even if you don’t understand Korean, or very little, the Pooh seems cuter speaking  Korean and like the dandelion, will quickly endear themselves to you. Honestly, you wouldn’t believe a dog shit could be so lovable!




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Death Could Hardly Taste Fresher – Smelts (빙어)

Posted in bathhouse Ballads by 노강호 on February 18, 2011

The bing-oh ‘van’ (빙어). A great place to contemplate the meaning of life.

Podcast 71

Last night, on my way home from school, I noticed the smelt van pulled up on the side of the busy cross road which I use several times a day. Every few months this small van appears and it’s always noticeable, perhaps more so for the waygukin (foreigner) because of its strangeness. Patches of snow and ice, from the recent nuclear winter, lay on the sidewalk and the air had an invigorating nip. From the smelt van interior steam, illuminated by the little bright lights around the van, intermittently billow out into the evening air, wafted away by puffs of chilly wind.   On the back of the van sits an enormous aquarium on which a couple of small lights focus and the  light, refracted from the  furthest glass panel,  makes it appear as if you are looking horizontally into a vast expanse of blue water in which a  thousand  small silver fish frantically swim like  slivers of glass.


Koreans call them bing-oh (빙어) and they one of the less common streets foods whose western name, smelts, has a rather ironic foreboding.  Smelts are the name for a family (Osmeridae) of  fish (probably the hypomesus japonicus) which inhabit the water between Korea and Japan and which swim in large shoals. Various species of smelt exist both in the major seas, oceans and in freshwater but the Korean specie is one of the smallest, only a few centimeters long.  Stood watching them is mesmerizing and it’s easy to see the therapeutic  use  aquariums have as a means of inducing relaxation and lowering blood pressure; a couple of seats in front of the tank would surely attract customers.

carnage under the canopy – but it’s tasty

However, the hypnotic lull into which you might be drawn is shattered when a large sieve suddenly invades the watery expanse and scoops up a few hundred unfortunate smelt, quickly folds them in batter before immersing their twisting bodies in the scorching oil of the deep fat fryer in which they instantly expire amidst spitting fat and a sigh of steam. From a vibrant alive to a crispy, and rather tasty, cooked and dead,  in less than two minutes.

waiting for the sieve

The smelt van is a holocaust on wheels and it doesn’t do to ponder too long on how a fish might perceive the various processes practiced. Being tossed in batter and chucked in the fryer is a fairly horrible way to go. However, the smell of fried fish quickly rescues one from contemplation and their tasty crunch has the capacity to banish both empathy and sympathy. You have to eat tempura at the cooking source because  by the time you get home the batter is cold and soggy but eating those delicious little morsels under the van’s canopy reminds me of how little respect we have for fish. Imagine a van with a small chicken pen perched on its tail, the chickens contentedly pecking away at  grains of corn strewn over the pen’s grass floor. And then, a hand grabs a chicken, chops off its head and expertly plucks the feathers and while still in the throes of death, drags it through some batter before committing it to the fryer. No tantalizing aromas could banish my horror nor  the tastiest, succulent flesh extinguish guilt. With warm blooded animals, even a stupid chicken,  the point and location of death and the culinary process have to be  clearly separated.  Many of us are so mortified by warm blooded death that we can’t even buy the flesh in the same location in which  it was killed and in the English language have to partition the meat for the animal;  personally, ‘pork’ is infinitely more palatable than ‘pig’ and a lot less likely to incur pangs of guilt. At least Koreans appear less troubled by canivourism when they are able to suck on a pork bone in a restaurant in which the walls or menu are adorned with  photos, paintings or  other images of piggies, in some cases bizarrely anthropomorhphised.

a pig restaurant

But I can quite easily enjoy a mouthful of bing-oh while watching them swimming about and romaticise that puff of steam which  is lifted into the city’s air as each batch is annihilated. Few, if any animal right exist  for the  bing-oh or indeed most other types of fish and able to watch the entire process from fish to food, with no remorse,  I am aware of not only how callous I am, but how smelted in the deep fat fryer, death could hardly taste fresher!

a fresh batch of bing-oh

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I Would Have Played Hooky But…

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Comparative, Daegu, Diary notes, seasons by 노강호 on February 16, 2011

Daegu under snow and suddenly I need a ‘sicky’

Podcast 70

I woke this morning (Monday) to find Daegu covered in snow; and heavy clouds, typical of the ones that exist much of the year in the UK, hugging the tops of nearby apartment buildings.  The clouds are gray and that they are pregnant with snow is forecast by the fact they are tinged yellow. There is a bitter wind that nips the extremities and all around large snow flakes, whipped by whirls of wind fall crazily. The flakes are so soft, delicate and light that they accumulate thickly on the branches of nearby pine trees.   I would love this kind of day in the UK, the perfect conditions for phoning in sick if you live within walking distance of work, or if you use public transport or car, then by exaggerating how bad travel conditions are. Neither would there be a need to use one of the trump-card, ‘sicky’ excuses, such as having diarrhoea or cancer; ‘excuses’ which are perfect for terminating any form of interrogation.  Of course, a cancer excuse demands further action as it  doesn’t just go away and colleagues would expect further developments, unless it’s posed as a ‘scare,’ in which case you can  script yourself ‘all clear.’  Neither is it likely to do you any favours if your ploy is foiled.

Most people would spare a chuckle for the colleague  feigning  a cold, flu or diarrhoea but a cancer feign is taking  too far and  is definitely likely to backfire,  if discovered. ‘Diarrhoea’ however, is a great excuse because at 7 am and half way through their egg, bacon and brown sauce, no boss is going to start quizzing the causes or manifestation of your condition.  If your boss is a bit of a twat, a few references to how runny your condition is or how you never quite made it out of bed on time, will quickly see them eager to terminate the call while simultaneously offering you the speediest recovery.   And next, with an authorized day pass, it would be a trip to the local corner shop, braving the conditions  en-route that prevent you from getting to work, for a few bars of chocolate, or whatever comfort food  takes your fancy. Then, once back home, it’s off to bed accompanied by a hot-water bottle and a couple of good movies.

It’s amazing how utterly relaxing and enjoyable a ‘mental health day’ is when taken in someone else’s time. You can never get the right feel if you take one at a weekend or during a holiday because guilt at your laziness gnaws your conscience and in any case, the weather is rarely suitable.  ‘Sickies’ in summer lack the potential to pamper and fail to provide that cosy snugness and if you have a house or garden there’s always something else you should be doing.  Climatic conditions which drive you indoors and force you to seek the warmth of your bed or duvet,  the sort of weather which typifies disaster movies, are prerequisite for a rewarding ‘sicky’ and they are even better accompanied by a suitable  climatic disaster movie involving nuclear winters  or avalanches.  And there’s absolutely no guilt because conditions are so shit you wouldn’t be doing anything in the garden anyway!  But the ultimate ‘sicky,’ one which unless you are cursed with the protestant work ethic, provides a taste of heaven,  is  one which is taken both at somebody else’s expense and during bad weather when the only thing you would be doing, is working.


a choppy yellow sea ( winter 2007)

In the UK, a flurry of snow is enough to cause trains and buses to cease  and you can guarantee that once public transport has shut shop, half the population will be phoning in with colds or flu or excuses about being ice-bound. The merest dusting of  anything more than frost and my niece and nephew are begging to be excused school and their front room looks directly onto their school facade.  You can’t blame them as in recent years the example of the rich and powerful are ones predominantly inspired by decadence and self-interest.

snowy sunrise (Do-bi-do, Winter 2007)

When I was a teacher in the UK, I probably averaged 10 ‘sick’ days a year, even if I was on a part-time contract.  Sometimes they were taken  because I had better things to do than work – things such as taking an exam or a driving test. More likely, they were because I was simply stressed and  found it difficult to amass the energy to teach a bunch of kids who usually had little interest in learning. I would have few allegiances to a school in the UK, certainly not as a chalk-front teacher in a run of the mill school (as most are even though they all claim the opposite), and consider teaching a form of prostitution.  Indeed, I’ve known teaching friends incite the scummiest pupil they knew until enraged, they attacked them. Strange, how even though the attacks were minor, sometimes involving pats rather than punches, and the teachers of strong constitution,  they had to take months off work suffering from a range of psychological problems – time off on full pay, of course. I even knew one teacher, a teacher of comparative religious studies, who managed to get long-term sick leave due to ‘stress’  during which she  secretly taught in another school. I admire people who hold down two jobs but that’s  genius and an excuse that possibly exceeds the moral boundaries demarcating ones  involving cancer.

bitterly cold (Do-bi-do, Winter 2007)

In Korea,  life isn’t that laid back and most people still make it to work or school through both bad weather and illness and often both! I’ve not had one day off for sickness in four years, not even for a genuine sickness! Even when I’ve had a problem, as I have had today with a buggered knee, I’ve gone to work and simply suffered. This is partly because I’m a personal friend of my boss but it’s also because the kids are decent and working conditions good.  I know this isn’t the case in all Korean schools, but it is in mine. But on a day like today, with Daegu buried in snow, the temperature freezing and the visage from my one-room like a scene from The Day After Tomorrow,  I feel a yearning, a pang for something British and for once it’s not roast beef, roast potatoes or  a pint of British bitter.   The adverse weather conditions have initiated a cultural call, a siren invoking  me to invent an appropriate excuse and play hooky and doing so is a cultural institution as British as fish and chips.  If I was British Rail the announcement on all stations throughout the next few days would be,  ‘services suspended until further notice!’  Suddenly, I realise the mild headache I felt all last night, that would otherwise have been the initial stages of a brain tumour,  are just my imagination. Reluctantly, I pull on my coat and gloves and head out into the Arctic winter, on my way to work!

‘Winter 2007 – perfect dossing weather

Footnote – You know how every two hundred photos you take you have one that’s actually decent?  Well. yesterday I had two which encapsulated the conditions which inspired the content of this post. And then, after ‘processing’ them they were somehow deleted. I was quite pissed off!  Hence the Winter 2007 photos.

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