I've got to hand it to Korea/karma/the universe: it seems like whenever I am the loneliest here--when I start to think about other things, when I wonder what else might be in the cards for me besides desk warming/teaching Engrishee--it has a way of sucking me back in. Like today, when at my last teacher's conversation class my three most devoted students (Seyna (a Korean teacher), Mrs. Gom (a geography teacher), and Mrs. Choi (a traditional Korean music teacher)) surprised me with cookies, soda, and a pizza from Mr. Pizza, which is by far the best tasting and most expensive of Korean pizzas. The "Gold" pizza that they ordered me was covered with all of the extra crazy Korean pizza shit that I love--corn, bacon, potatoes, sweet potatoes, sticky sweet, yellow sauce and pickles. DELICIOUS.
I am not being sarcastic--once you slather a slice with honey mustard + mayonnaise + hot sauce, you'll forget all about all of that boring Italian sun-dried, EVOO sprinkled "artisinal" stuff^^
Teacher's class (though often canceled for one reason or another) has been one of my favorite things about working at public school. Though most of the ladies I "teach" at my school aren't the most English-savvy, they always have interesting things to say to me about how they see the West--and they in turn and are fascinated with my view of Korea as a foreigner.
This week, we talked about "The Social Network," which was just recently released here.
In case you've been in a cave somewhere, a brief summary: Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg starts "The Facebook" from his Harvard dorm room to spite an ex-girlfriend, it blows up, there are legal complications, and we learn that the founder/creator of the world's biggest social networking site is in fact a womanizing weirdo with no friends.(Photo source)
Mrs. Choi, whom is the sassiest/oldest/least fluent in English of the three teachers expressed a great deal of concern to me about the women in the movie, pretty much all of whom stereotype your typical floozy college co-ed: drug abusing sluts who are dying to sleep with any Ivy Leaguer who will have them. Or to quote her more accurately: "In this movie...drugs! And women having Free Sex. Is it normal?" Mrs. Gom then chimed in "We are afraid that Koreans will see this movie, and it will destroy Korea". Read: young people in Korea at the moment are "pure" and are not having sex, but we are worried that they will see this movie and start whoring themselves around/start doing lines of coke off of each others stomachs and whatnot.
I wasn't really sure how to respond. From what I read/what I know from what my Korean friends have told me, many young people in Korea have have in fact had sexual experience of some kind, but there is little to no sex education in schools/dialogue between friends/parents/children about sex. This has led to a lot of misinformation and a kind of national denial of sex by Koreans--and scarily enough for Korean women, a lot of unprotected sex. Only 2% of Korean women use oral contraceptives, which is just mind blowing, considering that almost 20% of women use oral contraceptives at home.
I think most of these women that I work with think of me as an exception to all of the horrible things they have seen about Western women in movies like this one and all of the TV shows from America that are wildly popular over here (not to mention lingerie ads over here, which feature exclusively Western women) They know that I am single--but I am polite and friendly, I don't wear shirts that expose more than two inches of my collarbone, and I don't co-habitat with a boyfriend like the last foreign teacher did. I asserted that not all Western women are like the girls in The Social Network--but some are. As are Korean women--the difference is that Western people talk about sex A LOT, whereas Koreans talk about it hardly at all, or just flat out lie about the sex they are having.
I tried not to get to political, or get offended, or to loudly say "You know, you CAN, in fact, be having a lot of sex and not be a completely horrible person, or an idiot, or an evil slut looking to cozy up to Satan as quickly as possible." For as much difficulty as I have understanding the Korean mindset towards open discourse with an issue like this, I realize and acknowledge that in America, we have our own annoying problems and popular mindsets that make me just as miffed...and it's just too much fun to pick the brains of these women WHILE EATING DELICIOUS PIZZA nom nom nom