Elwood 5566

Feeling a little Dicky

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Food and Drink, vegetables by 노강호 on July 12, 2010

작은 고추가 맵다! Big things come in small packages

I haven’t been to the bathhouse lately as I’ve been feeling a bit dicky after a mild touch of food poisoning and I’ve been giving some thought to the topic of dicks. It’s the fault of the GS 25 convenience store near my one room which has a tendency to hire attractive students who lure me into their domain partly because of the motto worn on the back of their jackets, fresh, friendly, fun, but also because I usually fancy something hot before bed. The latest boy also wears a pink badge which says, ‘I love you.’ They should pay him extra money to wear the jacket and badge. Those kids are crappily paid, something like 4000 Won (£2) an hour, and I’m aware I could probably lure them with some extra won, if I was in some seedy dump like Tangier or Tijuana,  but no one has any free time here and besides, vibrant economies tend to put a damper on the extremes driven to by financial  desperation.

Small and hot

Clacton on Sea in Essex, UK! Now there’s a place as seedy as dirt holes like Tangier or Tijuana. You don’t have to travel with a passport to find economic, intellectual and cultural poverty if you’re British, Clacton provides it all. I’ve taught in most of the senior schools in ‘Clacky,’ an experience enough to terminate any interest in teaching as a career. Here’s a snippet from a diary entry for February 2000.

I don’t enjoy my contract day as I feel responsible for the classes. It’s much more fun when I just do cover. It was an okay day but the lads in my last class, Year 10, bottom set business studies (my pet hate) spent most of the time messing around. There were only four of them and I’m sure a couple of them are prostitutes – Clacton is that sort of place and I believe that the Macdonalds in the town center is where you pick them up. The boys sit with their knees wide apart, one keeps tugging at his dick and their conversation is usually about sex.

‘Do you fancy ‘him,’ Paul?’ asked one boy hitching his head to indicate me.

‘If he’s got the money.’ Later, Paul asked me to sign his report. ‘Go on, Sir, give me a good one. Just a few good comments to keep my parents off my back.  I’ll do anything you want.’ I looked at him and raised my eyebrows. ‘Even that,’ he replied. A few weeks ago I over heard this boy say he’d like to be a male prostitute. His friend asked if he’d do it with men. He told him he’d do it with anybody as long as he got paid.

I could probably pick up a local faecalapod in Clacky with as much ease as you could in Tangier,  except I’m not into dirt or STI’s and the hottest thing I’m going to pick up in GS25  in Song-So is a cup of hot chocolate. The new boy is skinny and he reminds me of a former student. Because of centuries of genetic isolation, Koreans tend to look much more like each other than we mongrel wayukins. Even beyond the black hair and dark eyes, I tend to note similarities in a passing stranger with the features of old friends or former students.  I don’t know if there been any research done on the subject but sometimes I think there must be less than 15 basic appearances from which most Koreans slightly deviate.

Phrenology

The skinny lad won’t last long, the students in the store tend to change about every three months. It must be a frigging bore of a job working through the night and I’ve no idea what’s on their pads ‘n’ pods but some of them seem to spend the whole evening on them and will instantly discard them as they jump to attention, when you walk into the store. Some read books but even then there is usually a pad or pod in sight.

'Peter Peppers' or 'Chilli Willies' - though they may be look-a-likes (Yonhap News)

And of course, it’s chilli season. Talking of willies, phallic shaped chillies are probably a freak of nature in Korea but in Louisiana and Texas, USA, a type of chilli, the ‘Peter Pepper’ or ‘Chilly Willy,’ is renowned for producing  consistently cheeky chillies. The website ‘Chilli Willy®‘ markets the appropriate seeds, provides growing tips and hosts a regular photo competition. Do they have the same kick? I’ve no idea but in Korea it’s a well-known idiom that the smallest chillies are the fiercest (작은 고추가 맵다).  Globally however, Korean chillies are far from the hottest or smallest. For a wealth of information on the world of the hottest chillies visit: http://www.scottrobertsweb.com/scoville-scale.php

A genuine 'Chilli Willi®'

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© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Just…

Posted in Uncategorized by 노강호 on July 10, 2010

Not surprising since their favourite patches are usually sewer outlets

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and besides cooking rice…

Posted in Uncategorized by 노강호 on June 30, 2010

Don't forget to wash it out after!

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© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

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When the Cuckoo Dies

Posted in Uncategorized by 노강호 on June 28, 2010

Cute Cuckoo

Sitting in my kitchen is a cuckoo rice cooker; it’s pink, not my first choice of colour but at the time of purchase there were only 2 smaller rice cookers both identical, both  pink.  It sits on a shelf either on duty or turned off but generally it is turned on for months at a time only being ‘stood down’ while I refill it.  I suppose it’s one of my most fundamental and important cooking implements, certainly more useful than a microwave even in the absence of an oven, and yet I treat it with little regard. Occasionally it will get a clean, inside and out though last time I opened the lid in anticipation of a clean, I forgot about it and a few days later discovered  it was still operating.

My refrigerator, air conditioner and washing machine all warrant the luxury of some consideration because they are problematic to replace and any breakdown would cause a major inconvenience. In an attempt to prolong their lives I regularly adjust the fridge temperature, so as not to over work it, or I will use the  fan instead of the air conditioner and then washing machine I will occasionally treat to lime dissolving powder. However, I am aware that all are prone to failure and steel myself for that moment. The poor little cuckoo, as cute as it is, doesn’t even get a  look in! I wouldn’t dream of boiling rice in a pan to prolong its life and when it dies it will be chucked in the bin without sadness or ceremony and a replacement, another cuckoo, will be in situ within a few hours of terminal failure.

A lot of teachers in Korea probably feel like cuckoos. I arrived for my first spell in Korea in late August 2000 and looking back over my diary I had deduced an attitude towards foreigners, and especially English teachers, within my first day. I arrived  at  Kimpo International Airport in the late evening, believing I was going to Ilsan to teach middle to high school age students, a condition agreed upon before I accepted a post. The next day, I was dragged to five different schools  in what was clearly an attempt to sell the Letterland system and I was the cuckoo being used to promote it.   Even in the car being driven between schools, neither of my hosts saw fit to give me any commentary  as I gawked in awe at a culture far removed from my own.  And when I asked when I was going to be taken to my school, or what it was like, or where it was, their English suddenly seemed to evaporate. Not much after 10 am and the jet lag began to kick in and in one school I feel asleep in the bosses office. Despite knowing nothing about the Letterland system, a book was thrust into my hand in several schools and I was asked to talk to  ‘teach’ the kids.  In the evening I was taken back to Kimpo Airport and  while I sat  intermittently sleeping my hosts were busy on their mobile phones.  After an hour of nothing they burst into life and hurried me to a ticket booth and  before I knew it I was boarding a plane for Daegu and a post that involved teaching elementary school and kindergarten.

Introducing the new English teacher.

I can imagine the discussions prior to my arrival: ‘If you collect the new cuckoo at Kimpo you can borrow it for the day. Take it around some prospective clients and turn it on, get it to do some work, show it off! Just being a western cuckoo will impress them! Then,  in the evening, when you are finished, pack it onto the last plane bound for Daegu and we can have it collected from the airport.’

On my third stint in Korea, teaching in Ch’eonan, I arrived on a Sunday evening, in early September. My new boss collected me at the airport and then took me to my one room. I had to spend my first night sleeping in unwashed bedding with the previous teacher’s dribble stained pillow.  It was like sleeping with a stranger; I could smell the guy all  night and without a doubt his bedding  hadn’t been washed for months. It was horribly humid  and no one had thought to put a bottle of water in the fridge, or some toilet paper in the bathroom. When I asked if the school could arrange for me to have internet access, I was simply told it wasn’t possible. The school also took the liberty of billeting me alongside 36 boxes which belonged to the outgoing teacher who was planning to return to Korea at sometime in the future.  The boxes took up a third of my floor space and transformed what could have been a fairly pleasant, if not small one room complex, into a warehouse.  After a few months they were a daily reminder of my cuckoo status and on more than one occasion I launched a barrage of kicks against them or stabbed them  in a crazed carving knife attack. Eventually, I tore a few open and tossed the contents about my room, then claimed I’d been  burgled. The next day the school provided a small truck to move the boxes into the school. But guess who supplied the labour?

Just like the cuckoo rice cooker, the cuckoo teacher should have no special needs or requirements. once un-boxed the cuckoo should be ready to function until failure when it can be chucked out and replaced.

Just like you never bother to tell your cuckoo what your plans are or give it some notice prior to activation, many Korean bosses spring things on you at the last moment – often through the school secretary. One boss would occasionally drag me to other towns, always under the pretense of sightseeing and we’d suddenly pull into a school. After meeting the principal and being given a brief tour and lunch, it would then be ‘sprung’ on me that I had to teach for an hour. In the UK we call this kind of teaching ‘door knob teaching’ as generally you have no idea what your supposed to be doing until you enter the classroom.

In the Ch’eonan high school, foreign teachers would arrive at school to find it was a day off or all the staff except you would be in casual clothes because it was a sports day. The status of rice cooker is no more obvious than when you are ill – the equivalent of your cuckoo being broken and of course, carting it to the nearest service center is beyond the question. When I had a particularly nasty flu and had to stay in bed three days, my first boss didn’t even bother to call in and see me and on the third day sent the landlord to summon me. When I returned to school he pointed to the classrooms and simply shouted, ‘do your duty!’ I called him a ‘fucking wanker!’ and promptly resigned. Rice cookers aren’t supposed to talk back! An accident, long illness or some similar calamity and you realise very quickly how disposable you are.

On occasion I’ve been quite proud of my cuckoo, partially because its cute but also because it has a novelty value as they are fairly rare back home. And likewise, there are times when bosses will wheel out foreign teachers to show off.  When my high school had a contingent of teachers visiting from the USA, for negotiations concerning a potential partnership, we were summoned to the principal’s office, a space approximately twice the size of a classroom, and were  prompted to chat and be friendly while the press took photos.  Another boss hated any foreign teacher speaking or learning Korean, except when potential parents were visiting when he’d  giggle and ask you to  introduce yourself in Korean. I was never quite sure whether he did this to impress parents or provide them a little humour.

Unlike my cuckoo, which firmly belongs to me, teachers are almost seen as public utilities. Every English-speaking waygukin will have experienced those fleeting interactions with passers-by who will use you to speak English or nudge their kids forward  for a free lesson. Whereas I am the only person accessing my cuckoo, every  Korean sees it as legitimate to finger my buttons.  Even when we are ‘stood down’ we frequently get turned back on.

A few years ago I bought a rice cooker in the UK, it’s crap as it cooks rice and then  automatically turns itself off as it has no  ‘warm’ mode and hence, can’t be so easily abused.  As much as I love Korea and enjoy teaching, I often wish I  were similarly designed.

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© Nick Elwood 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

Friendly Fresh Fun

Posted in services and facilities by 노강호 on June 18, 2010

GS 25 is my local store and is a mere 60 paces from my front door.  It opened only a few months ago after replacing a small business which I passed for 18 months but cannot recall.  The GS 25, which I assume means ‘general store,’ opens 24 hours day though equally, it could be the abbreviation for, ‘Get Some.’ The ’25?’ That’s  the ’25’ the usual Korean ‘term’ for ’24/7. With its blue and white neon lighting, the GS 25 has brightened up a formerly dull corner which opens onto the main road.

Recently the store has made some new innovations: with summer here, chairs and tables have been placed on the pavement and yesterday I was given a loyalty card. The GS25 company however, truly like to service their customers and this evening when I pop in to buy my bedtime beverage, a cup of milky coffee, I notice the student working within, at 8.30 in the evening it’s always the same boy, has a GS25 jacket on the back of which is emblazoned, in large yellow letters, ‘Friendly, fresh and fun!’

Where?

There are a couple of places on my walk home in which I could buy a cup of  milky coffee but over the last few months what has attracted me to this small shop is the boy. He’s a university student, studying English at the local university and though I’ve spoken to him in English on one occasion, a sort of invite for him to try out his English on me, I always have to speak to him in my poor Korean. He probably 24 and at my age, 54, I don’t have the slightest anticipation of anything developing beyond a customer-employee relationship but after a day’s teaching checking out the front his jeans as he correspondingly checks my small change, provides a little light entertainment.

Tonight I’d had a few sojus and the world always looks better when you’re mildly tipsy.  The jacket, in particular, grabs my attention.  It’s not really a jacket, it’s more like a light vest made of some mesh material and today, he also has a new baseball cap.  The  three ‘F’s’ are going through my mind as I stare at the arsenal of coffee in the cool cabinet. I always buy the same one, ‘Mild Caffe  Latte,’ but not an evening goes buy when I don’t glare at the other 20 or so different types before making my regular selection. ‘Friendly,’ the jacket reminds me, so I smile as I hand  him my the money, always the same 1200 Won but tonight it’s in loose change.  He returns my smile but it’s nothing overtly friendly, more like averagely ‘friendly, the standard ‘friendly’ I’d could expect in E-Marte, or Paris Baguette.  Then I get a little fresh; ‘You’ve got a new hat?’ He raises  his eyes from the change in his hand, smiles and lifts  the cap off of his head. ‘Oh, and a new haircut! Very handsome!’ He thanks me but has no idea I’m being ‘fresh.’ He understands ‘fresh’ only within the context of sell-by dates. You can’t really get to the ‘fun’ level without a little more ‘freshness’  and as he almost finishes counting my change, I have a fleeting urge to have some ‘fun’ and fondle  the front of his jeans. I don’t bother, it’s the soju effect and besides, ‘fondle,’ despite the alliteration, isn’t on his jacket.

The staff, though friendly and fresh fall short on providing some fun

Disappointed? Of course I am!  Whats the point in advertising to customers that you are ‘friendly fresh and fun’ when you are no more of any of them than any other store. And to be honest, I expect ‘friendly’ service wherever I spend my money as well as fresh items. As for fun? How can shopping for a bar of chocolate, a packet of batteries or a smoked boiled egg be ‘fun?’ If it’s ‘fun’ shopping in a pokey little convenience store with a small range of products it must be ecstatic shopping in a place like E-Marte or Tesco’s Home Plus – which of course it never is. And to make matters worse, next morning, when I pop in to buy breakfast, another member of staff is wearing the same jacket. However, when he turns around he’s a granddad who apart from being very friendly, is neither ‘fresh’ nor ‘fun’ and personally, spots are preferable to crinkles any day!

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Toss English

Posted in Diary notes, Westerners by 노강호 on June 17, 2010

I should have known better but after a hard day’s work, feeling clammy and tired, my brain wasn’t functioning. I ‘d stopped to take a photo of one of the school’s mini buses which was parked on the sidewalk, doors wide open to vent the heat before being crammed full of students. I’d no sooner got my camera out of my bag when a waygukin came around the corner. Being caught with your camera out, a sure sign you are a white belt waygukin, is embarrassing and the equivalent to being caught tossing or picking your nose. Like most of the boring western tossers in Korea, there was an avoidance of eye contact and a reticence to acknowledge another foreigner lest it taint their air of being a waygukin who thinks they’re either Korean or the only westerner in Korea.. I’d passed another two in exactly the same spot earlier in the day – one I’d nodded at but behind his dark glasses he totally ignored me. The other was walking into his school wearing a pair of Bermuda shorts that made him look like a  tosser and then there were the flip-flops. I find it a form of racism for waygukins to go and work in a school dressed like they’ve just sauntered up from the beach as it demonstrates a complete lack of any understanding of or sensitivity to Korean culture and short of working for Mediterranean Beach Club 18-22, you wouldn’t dress as such back home.

The minibus I am photographing belongs to Toss English Academy and ‘toss’ is a British-English slang term for ‘masturbate’ or ‘crap.’ The school has been in situ for well over 10 years and I often smile when I see one of their buses passing. You’d really think companies, especially the big ones and ones which teach English, would ask a native speaker to check their  English so as to avoid making such gaffes! Other alternatives conveying the same sense of meaning and range of nuances would be: ‘Wank English Academy,’ Masturbate English Academy,’ and  ‘Shit English Academy.’  And for some examples:

Going for a toss – to have a wank, to toss off

tosser – a wanker or masturbator

to call something ‘toss’ – to state it is ‘rubbish,’ ‘shit,’ or ‘crap.’

a tosspot – a stupid person, an arsehole or a boozer.

As I’m taking the photo the driver comes up and asks me why I want a photo. I’m sensitive enough to gauge how appropriate it is to tell him what ‘toss’ means and even assume he might find it amusing and as he’s approximately the same age as I am, I go ahead and explain.  My pronunciation of ‘wank’ is impeccable as I’d heard it so often in my last school, a boys’ high school  as whenever you asked a student  any question about what they did, are doing, or might do, someone would mutter, ‘wank.’   Now, initially I assumed the driver understood me because with a little look of surprise on his face, he reiterates the word, ‘wank?’   I repeat myself and point to the word but suddenly he is looking  a little annoyed and walks back to the little group of drivers from which he had initially emerged.

Poor guy has probably been driving one of those mini-buses for ten years and then discovered from a stupid waygukin that  ‘toss’ means ‘wank.’  That’s a mighty kick to a Korean ‘kibun.’ I should have kept my mouth shut! I explain my faux pas  to a friend  who sees nothing wrong or offensive in my comments and the context they were made in but suggests he may have been worried about ‘company’ image.  However, as I replay the event through my mind  I am beginning to wonder if he understood what I meant by ‘wank’ but misunderstood the rest of my Korean. If such were the case then they guy probably thinks I’m a weirdo. Maybe he thought I was after a ‘wank’ in his bus or maybe he thought I was suggesting I ‘wank’ him. Now I’m going to have to avoid that stretch of road to by-pass the Toss Buses and their drivers.

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©努江虎-노강호 2010  Creative Commons Licence.

Toss English went bankrupt in 2012.

June 2010

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Bogland Follow-up

Posted in Blogging by 노강호 on June 5, 2010
More shite from Bogland

Bogland

I’m tracking if any of my friends bother to read my blogs or indeed, if I actually have any friends. I recently uploaded one of those tagging widgets to my page which you can see at the bottom of my side bar. Every time someone visits my blog their country of origin is denoted by a flag. Every morning, before I even get out of bed, I turn on the computer and see if I have any new flags.  Then I sit and browse through a number of K-blogs with my coffee. I really need a stiff drink, except I don’t drink, because there is definitely some shite lurking in Bogland. Sometimes, the shit is so bad it is can actually be useful. I am trying to learn Korean, I have been for years and so any sites which can improve my skills are of particular interest. Ten years ago you couldn’t even buy a decent book to help you learn Korean and there was nothing online. Now we are spoilt  for choice. I subscribe to one website and to augment my learning visit a number of blogs and in particular those which function both as a diary and provide a Korean lesson.

This post is dedicated to all those twats who write blogs peppered with Korean words to which there is no given translation as if their audience, and more specifically, their mates back home, can actually speak and read Korean. Back in 2000, if you wanted to write with an east Asian script on your PC, if you had one, you had to buy Microsoft’s, Proofing Tools and online translators were basic in the least. A dictionary was essential except they were difficult to buy (in the UK) and very basic. The simplest way to impress your mates back  home and give yourself Malinowskian credentials is to look-up a Korean word, eg, ‘train,’ stick it in Babblefish or some other translator, and then paste it into your text.  ‘I got the 기차 to 대구 last 토요일,’ type blogs, are excellent for testing your knowledge of basic Korean words.

Then there are the copious reviews on restaurants and coffee shops. Anyone who has lived in Korea more than a few months should know that unless a corporate or franchise affair, the coffee shop or restaurant raved about today stands a very good chance of being a hand-phone shop in a few months time and a bakery within six. And then there are the blogs written as though Korea were some isolated little backwater, by authors who seem to think they’re Malinowski, except they’re a hundred years too late and tend to be uninspired by the mundane  and oblivious to the unique. Of course, there is a wealth of insights to share with western audiences except most  have been covered by a hundred other authors but there remain many ‘issues’ out there with hardly anything in print to highlight them. So, here is an example of a really naff style of blog writing:

Hello! 한국 is such a bizarre country. I have been in the Land of the Morning Clam’  for 6 months and am still having fun. Life in my 학권, ‘Venus English Phrontesterion,’  is really good except my bosses,  씻인석 시  and  식인숩 시, insist I speak without  a 미국 accent. I have difficulty telling them 미국 사람 don’t have accents. Only 외국인 사람 speak with an accent!

Downtown Daegu

As you can see, I can now speak and write in 하국어. Are you impressed? Yesterday. This one is red inside. Later, we 팔 김밥 . This  is a pancake  parcel with a filling. It is served with a watery soup called 코물. 마니 마시티!

More next time!

석미왕 프럼 왕주.

Oh, my flag tagger! Very colourfully informs me I have had two visitors from the UK, where the majority of my friends and family live, and 5 from Russia where I know no one. Even if I wanted to, it seems I have no one to impress!

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When the ‘K’ doesn’t stand for Korea! (Impressing Mummy and Daddy with a Krap-blog)

Posted in Blogging by 노강호 on June 4, 2010
More shite from Bogland

More shite from Bogland

I just love this type of blog post…

Didn’t like this and deleted it!

 

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Penis Paradise. Palgongsan National Park

Posted in bathhouse Ballads, Comparative, Daegu, Entertainment by 노강호 on May 19, 2010

Highly recommended

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about life in Korea, it’s that cocks can turn up in the oddest places and at the most unexpected times. Of course, if you’re a westerner you might be surprised as we so often perceive Korea as conservative in its values. Well of course it’s freaking conservative! If you’ve been socialised and educated in one of those degenerate moral and ethical cesspits, such as the UK or USA, you cannot fail to perceive Korea as naive and  innocent. Most westerners, myself included, are so used to cesspit values we hardly notice the toilet paper and bits of turd clinging to our bodies as we travel the globe. Being British and from the land where teenage pregnancy and STI’s are at ‘epidemic proportions,’ in Korea, with one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in the world, 2.1 per thousand, it is quite natural to perceive the country as conservative and even innocent. Ironically, despite Korea’s low rate of  STI’s and teenage pregnancy, the existing figures are a current social and political concern! I am neither religious nor particularly moralistic but, I prefer my students, especially ones under 14, to be innocent as opposed promiscuous,  predatory, precocious, tarty and cheap.

純 순수한 - 'Innocent '

In Autumn last year,  I visited Palgongsan National Park, on the edge of Daegu. After a very delicious smoked duck barbecue, I took a little troll around the restaurant grounds only to discover 42 penises, (yes, I actually counted them!), all poking skywards and congregated in an area about the size of a large living room. This little patch of cock I endearingly referred to as Penis Paradise. On my initial trip, I’d forgotten to take my camera and all year I’d been planning to go back and capture, albeit it on a digital, the only cocks I am probably likely to get close  enough to touch between now and the grave. You can imagine how gutted I was when I enthusiastically arrived at my  little paradise, tucked away in some obscure corner of the mountains, only to discover all but one cock remained. The adjoining restaurant had made some alterations but even after trolling around the building and snooping in tucked away corners, it became apparent I’d missed my one and only  opportunity.

Where a patch of proud penises had majestically stood there remained one solitary cock which poked up pathetically from a surrounding pile of junk robbing it of any remaining grandeur. Up closer it retained an air of pride despite  probably  being the poorest specimen with a shaft looking hacked, holed and even split as if old or simply unfinished. The other ones had been smooth, perfected and each imbued with particular qualities suggested by both the  nature of their wood as well as their individual design; qualities that only someone who likes natural wood and  cock could appreciate.

Surrounded by junk - Sacrilege!

A badly hacked shaft in need of some oil!

Penis Paradise had originally stood outside a carpenter’s workshop/gallery and inside I found another penis. It was a big fat number, somewhat interesting but with a face carved on one side which I didn’t particularly like but it had the bonus of and added appendage ….yet another cock.

Two for the price of one

The epitomisation of Korea

Knotted and gnarled were the qualities that had enamored me when I first encountered that patch of penises. Korean wood is invested with a strange quality probably induced by struggling into life in quite difficult surroundings. Back in England, near where I live, are some examples of the most enormous oak trees and in a five-minute cycle I can be stood under trees that Constable himself painted.  Korean mountain forests exude a sense of gargantuan Bonsai and walking in one, especially when daylight is ebbing, is like wandering through a Mahler symphony, most especially, his fourth.  It’s a dark, warped, and knotted world, with craggy imposing crops of rock, mossy and lichened,  the perfect background for goblins, ghosts and  other imaginary forest creatures.   There are no immense oaks on those rugged rocky slopes where every tree has had to fight its way into existence with roots seeking out and voraciously burrowing into nutritious gaps and fissures in that dense, granite-like base. Tress are wind swept, stunted, knotted, gnarled and twisted in manners which betray both pain and tenacity.

In my last  high school, the top class of first, second and third year students, were called, ‘so-namu’ (소나무),  ‘pine tree, classes,’ and the boys affectionately called, ‘so-namu.’ ‘He’s ‘so-namu’ would be used to describe and explain  a boy’s exam success or identify the fact he was  in the top class.  That pained-tenacious existence, evident in Korean forests where life has been fought for, exists on other plains: you see it in the bodies of old men and women, bodies muscled and knotted, damaged and strengthened by an arduous life, yet supple enough to sit cross-legged, all  a rarity in the west. I have seen  old grannies who cannot stand up straight and are forced to walk with a right  angle between their spine and legs,  bodies damaged by a lifetime of carrying children or heavy loads on their backs, sit into a cross-legged position, and rise, without using their hands or moving their feet.  Even at forty, I had to get on all fours to escape this position. Sometimes you see it in the bodies of younger children, but this is without doubt rapidly disappearing. I have several nine-year olds, usually ones whose hobbies are taekwondo, hapkido, or komdo, with six packs and thighs looking like they regularly squat.  You see it in the faces of students as they trudge, bleary eyed from school to haggwon and on to another haggwon and then to the reading room, life a constant round of tests and assignments. Pain and tenacity are features of Korea which are engraved into the education system, their martial arts, encapsulated by the popular phrase ‘fighting!’ and also a reflection of their history. Penis Paradise was intriguing because wrought in the bodies of each penis, in both  the nature of the wood and  their design, was a sense of that  pain-and tenacity – the struggle for life and triumph at its persistence.

'Tenacity' is often a key concept in Taekwondo, Hapkido and Komdo tenets

A reflection of Korea on many levels

Only one cock stood, an epitaph to its vanished members. Where had they gone? In fact, they’d been sold for  exhibition at the Haeshindang Folk Village, Samcheok,  also known as Penis Park.

Family Fun at Penis Park

Penis Park, Samcheok, A Collection of colossal Cocks

With only one cock standing, the juicy aroma of barbecued smoked duck, attracted my attention. Putting my camera away, I went and enjoyed a wholesome meal. It’s no substitute for the real thing, but here is the menu:

Smoked barbecued duck a specialty


Fart Pants (방귀 바지) 코딱지

Posted in bathhouse and jjimjilbang culture, bathhouse Ballads, Comparative by 노강호 on May 12, 2010

rubus coreanus (복분자) 'wildberry'

In the E-bente Tang (이벤트 탕) today was a an aroma I’d not encountered before, black raspberry, or wild berry (복분자).  Translating is always a problem. First of all, the ‘information board’ advertising the aroma had a picture of black and red berries and so too did a bottle of berry ‘wine (more like liquor) I subsequently bought (복분자 주). To compound the problem, I suspect in the UK we call these berries blackberries and raspberries and these are quite different in taste. When I looked up this berry on the internet, I noticed the red and black berries were growing on the same stem. So, I discover that the Korean berry, bokbunja (복분자), is actually a member of rose family and of the genus rubus of which there are hundreds of species divided into 13 sub-genera, one of which contains 12 sections. (more rubus info) Indeed, if you want to be pedantic, bokbunja is rubus coreanus. Interesting, but all academic as from the scent emanating from the pool I couldn’t tell whether I was wallowing in blackberry, blackcurrant, or indeed, rubus coreanus.

I’ve been meticulous in bathhouse ablutions today as I am feeling particularly dirty. The source of this dirt is both mental and physical;  increasingly I come to realise that by socialization westerners are dirty species both mentally and physically but also,  short of being showered in shit,  I was fouled upon. Not having used a bathhouse for 4 days, and yet despite showering twice a day, I was amazed at the scum that washed off my body into the gutter. As I was on the end of a row of sit down showers, I could see it collecting in the drainage grill and it was  gray and creamy, more like sludge than scum. Neither was my ablution particularly stringent and was made using the normal, mildly abrasive bathhouse towel than by the rasp of one of those little green ‘Italy towels.’

Once lovely and clean, and basquing in my favourite patch in the hot pool, I got thinking…

I’ve recently had a new pupil called Fart Pants (방귀 바지) who is currently sitting on the fence between the kids who have a brain and the ones, and there are not many, who I deem ‘hobaks’ (호박). Hobaks are pumpkin head kids who are just incredibly slow and tiring to teach. Most professional teachers, back home at least, will castigate the practice of pigeonholing kids in such a derogatory manner and will certainly condemn me for printing her name except of course, it is not Fart Pants. But let’s not get holy, holy, most teachers pigeonhole kids in one form or another but  usually deny they do so and as is the case in Korea, you can still call one kid intelligent and another a mong without offending the silly sensibilities of political correctness that demand all kids are equal.

definitely worth licking

I’ve always maintained that if ever I had to lick a bum hole, if I was forced on pain of death, if I couldn’t choose a baby to lick upon, it  would be a Korean. Of course there’s a ranking system: all babies first, followed by males (preferably younger) females (preferably younger), old men, old women.  I would think this ranking would be a fairly common for anyone forced to comply but given some preferences. Personally, I think a hierarchy  much different from this, for example, preferring to lick ancient butt to baby butt, a truly rank  preference, would be  suggestive of some sexual perversion.

Although I wouldn’t want to lick any bum, not even for pleasure, if I had to my first choice would be that of a baby. Anyone other than a baby I could probably never look in the face again ether from a sense of guilt or revulsion. A baby would no more remember the act than having its  nappy changed. As a baby has  no personality it’s not like  licking the arse of a real person, and once out of its nappy it’s not much more than a dirty doll.  Denied a baby, I’d select a Korean.  Perhaps some Koreans don’t scrub their butts out but I know lots do because I’ve seen them. On the other-hand, I’ve never seen a westerner clean out their arse.

Koreans must have the cleanest arse holes in the world. I doubt you’ve ever seen a westerner scrub out their bum hole so you don’t really know if they do. I suspect most westerners just flush their butts with a blast from the shower which isn’t very hygienic considering its a deep, dark, dank, dirt dump  which we sit on all day and despite its catalogue of offenses is subject to significantly less scrutiny than our mouths and teeth. There is a veritable arsenal of mouth wash and gargle to both freshen and kill oral bacteria but nothing of a similar nature with which to douche your arse.

Like most arses, Pluto has been exiled

With an arse hole as distant as Pluto, the first time I saw a bide abroad, I assumed it was either for bathing a baby or washing your feet.  And even though its design should have announced its purpose, the idea was repugnant. A device for washing your arse! A filthy idea!  To have deduced the purpose of that alien bide would have required a morally degenerate mind and the inclinations of a pervert.  You dump out of a bum and after mopping up you forget the filthy offence. Poohing is a sin and a sin of such gargantuan proportions that even though ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness,’ the Bible avoids any mention of that dirty orifice. You don’t talk about poohing, you don’t share the experience and you certainly don’t make devices to clean it. If there’s one reason, why westerners are so distrustful of Islamic culture it’s because their poohing customs, ie. mopping up with a hand wetted with water from an old baked bean can, force  infidels to confront the one place we hate to go.  For the westerner forced to muck-out a la Mohammad,  having to touch that unspeakable place, especially when adopting the most undignified of postures, is a  significant form of first contact.  Touching down in that dark and alien cavity and being compelled to blindly explore it contours without the comfort of a wad of tissue, is something you never forget.   It is a first contact not just in that you are forced to acknowledge that  there is life on Pluto and that is not as nearly as far away as you thought, but that in all the years leading up that significant event, you staunchly upheld the prime directive of non-interference  (and if you were interfering with one, even your own, you never talked about it!)  A working definition of a seasoned traveler? Someone who has had first contact with their own arse hole.  Hence, I imagine most arses, especially non Korean arses, have permanent bad breath and while you can have the pseudo medical condition ‘halitosis,’ there is no corresponding medical term for a smelly bum.  Unfortunately, considering their propensity for filth, bum holes are sorely neglected.

But of all Korean butts in Korea, there’s one exception, Fart Pants! Fart Pants (방귀 바지) is the dirtiest Korean to date I have met. And though her parents aren’t poor, her dirtiness has more to do with her habits than being physically dirty. Admittedly, her favourite coat, salmon pink, looks like it has been used to clean the floor but this didn’t bother me until she started farting in class. The pink coat, being padded, has insulating properties and a fart is always more unpleasant when heated. I don’t know how universal it is in Korea, but I’m told that teachers rarely say anything to  a kid who farts because it draws attention to them which of course, they don’t like. In common with the rule of vile farts, hers are silent but I  know  they’re hers  because her eyes will be sparkling and she will be salivating heavily in a manner that suggests she’s either been fingering her own butt or  sucking a turd up and down her back passage. Either way, there is an intense look of pleasure and glee on her face.

The smell, still warm, then looms up from under the desk around which we  sit and it’s truly hideous. As the foetid guff engulfs me, I sit up, then press my neck as far back in my collar as possible, before moving my chair back after which there is no escape.  A few days ago, after trying to hold my breath  I knew  was going to retch and had to leave the classroom.  Betty, who is sat right next to her, must have had her nasal passages cauterized as she doesn’t seem to notice a thing.  Fart Pants lets one-off in most lessons. When she first started classes, nerves probably clenched her butt  shut but now she’s in the swing of things and relaxed, she blows  off with as much ease as someone with a prolapsed rectum.  I find her farts incredibly intense and personal  and being subject to them is a form of abuse. Apparently, she farts in other teacher’s classes but no one has heard her which makes me suspect she might have a punctured colostomy bag.  If she moves about too much, even a considerable time after issue, a residual smell, loitering under the lagging of that pink coat, will waft up.

If this hasn’t been bad enough, there have now been a number of occasions when I have noticed her toying with a bogey  (코딱지) between the tips of her index finger and thumb. She seems to keep  a bogey in play for several minutes, massaging it around like a piece of sticky glue or a grain of cooked rice.  Then her hand goes under the table and I anticipate it being dropped. Moments later however, it re-emerges only this time its on another hand. It’s  magical! Not in the sense she can keep amusing herself with one bogey for so long  or that it seems to matter transport from one digital location to another, but because the things are so moisture retentive. A few days ago,  she must have forgotten about one of her nasal playthings: it had been rolled, stretched, palpitated,  passed between various fingers and hands. Suddenly she went still which was quite noticeable because she is always fiddling and tears welled in her eyes.  Another fart was being primed! The intense pleasure its production provided distracted her enough to evaporate that offensive entity being entertained predominantly between her fingers.  When I asked a question which necessitated pointing in a book, her hand reappeared from under the table. From this stage on it’s a guessing game; which hand? which finger? When she pointed to the page, on the end of her right  index finger, perched a pale green bogey still looking fairly fresh despite the copious palpitations. Next moment, her hot fart smacked me  in the face.

Over the weekend I bought some anti-bacterial hand cream, the choice was amazing as this item is currently very fashionable. I also bought a bottle of Febreeze as I noticed that the farts clung to my clothing like fried food or tobacco smells.

Monday afternoon! First class of the week and Betty is on her own. Fart Pants has left the school and I shalln’t miss her!