From the BK to the SK
 
So, after almost 8 months of living in Korea, there are still a few things here and there that confuse me about Korean culture and society. Yet, there are two definite things that, day in and day out, leave me basically perplexed and dumbfounded at the end of the day.

One of these things is the PE classes at my school. I don't know whether all schools are the same, but the PE classes at my school are a joke. Let me explain.
The students, who are required to have PE outside despite whatever the weather conditions may be, do nothing. I am not joking. The PE teacher stands off the side practicing his golf swing while the girls sit and talk with one another and the boys play pickup soccer or basketball.
There is one bit of group exercise that takes place at the beginning. The students run a lap (but basically crawling) like herds of sheep around the perimeter of the dirt soccer field. They're just this one big mass of people stepping on one another. After they truly exert themselves with this run, they then do some stretching, of which the PE teacher had no control over. He doesn't do anything but practice his golf swings in the shade.
What is going on here? They seem more like a recess than anything else, which is why I am sure it is everyone's favorite class. I have come to hate PE class now that the weather is warm, because the students return to class, sweaty, panting and lounging their bodies across their desks as their limbs hang lazily off the sides, their necks no longer willing to support their heads - some of whose are exceptionally large - and their brains are on some sort of malfunction. They tell to me, "Teacher, PE class - so hot. We die. No work today. We die."
Give me a break. You think I want to be up here teaching when it's 80 degrees outside? The girls sit doing nothing! They're just worn out from sitting in the powerful Daegu sun! Please.
Second, and this is truly the most mindblowing to me, is the squat. I don't understand the squat. They did it in China, and they do it here, but for some reason it's really intriguing to me. It's like these kids came out of the womb and knew how to squat before they knew how to crawl.
People squat where ever they damn well please. When my students come to talk to me at my desk, they squat by my chair, both of their feet fully on the ground. They aren't squatting on the balls of their feet - that's the part that really gets me. Their feet are firmly planted on the ground, and their balance is so on par. They just squat. A little bend of the knees and it's as natural as walking. When I was in Costco shopping the other night, I saw this little two year old girl just squat down in front of me as we rode the conveyer belt (is that the right term?) to the next floor. Ajummas and ajosshis who have backs humped like QuasiModo have no reservations or qualms about just squatting on the sidewalk and talking on their cell phone.
My goal is to master the squat. It' really isn't that easy. My friends and I practiced before we went out last night, and I rolled over like an egg. That night, though, when we were out, I was able to do a few squats with the help of a little soju and some encouragement from my random Korean friends on the streets.
I'm telling you, it's a lot harder than it looks.
 


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