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A lot of people here (myself included) were surprised by how much Korea seems to celebrate Halloween. Now, I’ll have to wait until Sunday to see if they ACTUALLY celebrate Halloween… although I don’t know how I’ll know since I live in a teacher/college student neighborhood and not a family neighborhood and thus probably won’t get trick-or-treaters. I know the bars around here (for which Suwon is known) are celebrating Halloween.

CDI Yeongtong decided to use the CTP time to have the elementary students make Halloween bags and we gave the students candy. We did not plan on doing it with the middle schoolers, since most of them were likely to not get behind it. But I asked my middle school class if they wanted to make bags today, because I had left-over bags from 4pm. And as it turned out, they were very enthusiastic about wanting to make them. But these middle schoolers (two of them are actually elementary schoolers) are not your average middle school group. They were the ones I did MadLibs with last week.

So we made bags. And with the remaining time, I had them write Halloween poems/song and we made more MadLibs. Here’s a sampling of what they wrote:

Hey! It’s

August 31st! Oh, it’s October 31st!


Lollipops you get,

Or being a

Witch! (If you’re a girl)

Eh? It’s over?

Eh? I have to wait 1 year again?


And now the MadLibs. Because our lesson today was about ecotourism, I told them to write ecotourism and Halloween-themed ones.

Halloween Camp

On Halloween, Jake was going to camp in Europe. He got a woman from Hell-shaped bag, jack-o-lantern-flavored chocolate and $4444. He took an eco-friendly jet to Europe. For the rest of camp, he took an eco-friendly car. He vanished in England. He met Ten (a student in class) in France.

Note: I don’t know how the jet was eco-friendly or how Jake met Ten after vanishing, but I guess that’s why it’s a MadLib.

(No name)

Jack-o-lantern was a stinky mad scientist who used methane gas to cook spaghetti. One day, he wanted to save the planet so he made a team of firefighters and flew to an abandoned hut riding a shoe quickly. They became business men there. They lived rapidly every after.

Note: Business men was supposed to be a “clean” (read: eco-friendly) job.

Trick or Suicide!

A crazy bat named We wanted to escape the cave. He came out and dug to the toilet. There were many mummies living in the toilet. The bat ate the mummies’ blood. His stomach was so dirty. The blood of the mummies was so delicious because it was an eco-punky place. However, he vomited and finally head locked.

Note: Not sure what he meant by punky… Unless he’s a Punky Brewster fan…

(No Name)

It was 2030.4.4. A vampire named Alisa ate Chung Yak-Yong. The vampire was chased by police. The vampire said “Witch!” and the police cars screamed. The vampire rode on a bike and had an accident and died. 99,765 years later, the vampire became a zombie and ate King Sejong. The zombie was crazy. He ran around everywhere he wanted to. Finally he was hit by a pumpkin and exploded.

Note: The last word, pumpkin, ended up being pretty funny because the student only asked for a generic noun but earlier in the class we had been talking about hunting animals with weapons other than guns and one student had suggested ‘watermelon’. If only he had said pumpkin…

(No Name)

There was  a vampire who wanted to suicide the earth’s environment. He came to the earth and did many things. He told people to use cats. He made a dog about saving the environment. He shouted in Jupiter’s red spot to people to make a cheesy environment. Afterwards, he flew. He went back to Andromeda.

Note: The students bring up suicide quite a bit. It’s a little disturbing… And not in a Halloween sort of way.

And now, in honor of next month being NaNoWriMo, and since I’ve been sharing my students creative works, I’ll share some of mine. The past week my students were taking practice tests in reading classes, during which I have very little to do. So, while proctoring them, I came up with some limericks. Here are my two favorites:

The Power of Grapes!

In the morning I rise from my bed,

And pour grape juice all over my head.

It’s not strange, you see,

‘Cuz if you were me,

You’d know grapes fill my head lice with dread!

Note: That one came to me way to easily.


Through the wall I hear voices so clear-

Ly. I look but find no one is near

Me. Senses don’t a-

Gree. Truth’s my ene-

My. Because there’s no sane person here.


Note: This one was inspired by being able to here another teacher’s voice through our shared wall, teaching a class while my students were silent, taking their test.


Week 9 and 10 could not be coming fast enough. As the weeks roll on, teachers become increasingly jaded with their students. No matter how good your classes are, eventually all the work starts to catch up. Luckily, I’ve been pretty good at staving off any kind of negative feelings towards teaching, but other teachers are very noticeably looking forward to the next few weeks when our work loads decrease, because now is when the students start getting ready for the level-up tests.  And in one short month, we get to start all over with fresh classes and fresh students.

And teachers aren’t the only ones that start to get a little unenthusiastic about classes. You see it in the students too. Last week,  a college student from Ewha Women’s University came to speak to our students as a way to motivated them to keep studying (and I would assume fulfill some kind of college credit thing). My Friday ILA+ was assigned to attend during the Critical Thinking Project (when they get into groups and work on a project and short presentation together) time, which was a little disappointing because that’s the most fun part of class. It took up 30 mins so I didn’t have enough time to realistically do a proper CTP with them.

Instead, I prepared a MadLib for them. I forgot to save the powerpoint of it that they filled in. Such a shame because it turned out hilarious. I basically put holes into a recipe for baking a cake. The best madlib came when one of the students, who’s obsessed with Britney Spears, created the direction “Put all ingredients into a Britney Spears and place into the oven. Cook at 350 degrees celsius”. The class hysterical and I’m sure his screams of “Teacher, you killed Britney Spears!” could be heard far and wide.

After I showed them how to do a MadLib with mine, they worked on their own. The lesson we were working on was about glocalization, so I had them write ones on the history of a product. There are only 6 students in the class, so two groups of three came up with two funny MadLibs.

MadLib #1: The History of Cheese

Cheese was made by King Sejong using Hoontin Junggum (???) and Jang Yeong-Sil. They liked cheesy things. Junghoon (a student in the class) was the first person to eat it and vomit. He or she started to invent and spread it to North America. It cost $7777 per ton. To make this, mix, stupid Geojungi with milk and butter. Cheese is broken!

They really liked this one. Unfortunately, there’s a little too much Korean culture here for me to really appreciate it.

MadLib #2: The History of Dirty Chocolate

Chocolate was discovered in Atlantis by Michelle Obama. When it was discovered, she murdered. It was such a cheesy discovery because people mixed it. This fluffy chocolate was used as Michael Jackson. We also gave it to aliens. Because idiotic chocolate was discovered, we are now living in a crazy world.

Cheese was clearly a theme in this class that day. Not sure why…

I’ve noticed that many blogs written by a foreigner living in Korea have an entry dedicated to the ‘Korea is…’ game. Basically that’s where they list, not unsurprisingly, what Korea is, or what it represents to them. Now I won’t be playing this game until my adventures in Korea are coming to an end, but I will mention one point that will be joining ‘Korea is no toilet paper in the bathrooms so get used to it’ (that’s right, anyone who’s reading this blog to find out what Korea’s like before coming over here – ABSOLUTELY NO TOILET PAPER IN THE STALLS, unless you’re at a train/subway station or at a foreign restaurant. So plan accordingly.)

Korea is food.

There is a strong food culture here. And going along with that food culture is an abundance of cute little coffee shops (including one right outside my apartment that I can smell when waking up in the morning and keep not visiting like a good neighbor would) and bakeries. The last two weekends, I’ve discovered some wonderful bakeries that I’d like to share with the world.

Bakery #1: Dilly Dally

This has a location at Gangnam (Stn. exit 3 – near The Body Shop) and another one that I recently discovered in Sinchon (Stn. exit 2). I had passed by the Gangnam location many times and never popped in until a friend bought a snack from there. Then I checked it out myself. It has your standard cutesy Korean decorations with some not-so-standard bakery items. Like ‘sweet and sour mousse’, which I just had to try.

Verdict: DELICIOUS. I’d highly recommend popping in there for a snack if you’re in the area.

Contact Info for the Gangnam location:

Tel:  02.598.7571

Hours: Mon-Sat 7:00a.m.-11:00p.m./Sun 8:00a.m.-11:00p.m.

Contact Info for the Sinchon location:

Tel: 02.335.0114

Hours: Sun.- Thurs 7:30a.m.-11:30p.m./ Fri.-Sat. 8:30a.m.-12:30a.m.

Not to sour, not too sweet, all mouth-watering.

Bakery #2: Tartine

Now, there’s stiff competition for the hearts and stomachs of customers in Itaewon, Seoul’s haven for foreigners. On a side note, a Taco Bell recently opened up there and it always has a line. With delicious food around every corner, you’d think that Tartine, whose location down a dark and suspicious little alley is hidden enough that I can’t give good directions on how to get there (for directions, see their website), might not make it. YOU WOULD BE WRONG.

Tartine specializes in pies. I was introduced to the place by a fellow HI who was going to Itaewon pretty much just to buy their pies for him and his girlfriend. And at first I was all like ‘Really? Go all the way to Itaewon, which isn’t in that convient of a location, just for pie?’ Then, two weekends ago, I was in Itaewon again and I decided to buy some pies (along with tacos from Taco Bell for lunch on Monday). Then, I went back this weekend for more pies. I will be going back this Wednesday when I get off early from work (provided I don’t have to sub), because apparently they bake different pies on different days. And I will be going back next weekend too. Why? Because the pies are just. That. Good.

Verdict: DELICIOUS. The pies are small enough that you can get one, finish it and not feel like a fatty for doing so. Because even though everyone seems to be loosing weight over here, I still here of ladies trying to watch their figure. Also, they give you a discount card and you get a stamp per pie – not per trip, PER PIE. So I’ve already gotten a free rolled oats cookie from it. It was yummy.

A collage of pies will eventually go here, at the end of the week once I’ve bought more. As of right now, I’ve gotten their Chocolate mousse – delicious – Chef Garret’s Wild Berries pie – DELICIOUS and my favorite – Strawberry rhubarb and Korean peach pie. The last two I’m saving for desert Monday and Tuesday. Gotta ration ’em until Wednesday.

On October 8th, I started this blog entry and for whatever reason haven’t gotten around to finishing it until today. Clearly I need to be more timely with my blog posts. I always sit down with the best intentions of pumping out an entry but then don’t actually finish it until waaaaaay later than I should. In all fairness, I have (or had for the first few days) a small excuse for posting late since I was sick around October 8th. Nothing serious but definitely blog-hampering.

Anyway, from September 24th (the day after Chuseok) to October 3, Andong, South Korea was celebrating its cultural heritage via the Mask Dance Festival. I learned about this festival before I came over here (see my December 9th entry) and of course had to go see it. Originally I planned to go on September 25th and 26th, but couldn’t because on the 25th I had to make up classes  that had been cancelled due to Chuseok. So October 2nd and 3rd were the last days I could go see it – visiting on a weekday were out of the question.

Originally I also planned to go with a reasonably sized group and stay at one of the traditional Korean style inns that are in the area, but the group didn’t pan out. Which meant that I’d be jjimjilbang-ing it. Or at least at 6am, when I went out to catch the bus to take me into Seoul to catch another bus to take me all the way to Andong, that’s what I had been planning but I ended up being so exhausted by the end of the day that I just caught the midnight bus back to Seoul and called it a weekend. Which is kind of cool when you think about how I basically made a day trip going to almost the other side of the country.

Anyway, spending the day in Andong was fun. The vibe was very different than Seoul, obviously. I ended up seeing a couple of mask performances (and one day when I figure out how to post my videos on this blog, I will put them up here) and visiting the Folk Village. At the Folk Village, there were several shops selling tourist souvenirs, including tha traditional Hahoe masks. Now, you can find the Hahoe masks all over Korea but I really wanted to get a handmade one. Maybe they’re all handmade, maybe they’re mass produced, it’s hard to tell when they’re hanging in a store, even at the Folk Village. But then, just as it was starting to rain and I was leaving the Folk Village, I noticed a little shop where two women were working with woodworking equipment and selling the masks they were making. Yay! So I bought one of the masks at at pretty good price – hand-made (although I didn’t see her making my particular mask, unfortunately) and cheaper than I’ve seen elsewhere. And it has its own unique design, within the cultural norm for its character, and imperfections.

The mask I bought was the  양반 탈 (yangban t’al) or Aristocrat mask, which is not only my favorite of the 9 archtype masks but it seems everyone else’s as well. The Aristocrat mask is the one you see on all the advertisements and the one that is most on sale. Each of the masks represents a different character, with their own personality and dancing style, and it seems the Aristocrat’s is the best – or at least only one that’s not clearly negative.

I got this from the Hahoe Mask Museum:

Yangban T’al is viewed as the masterpiece best representing the aesthetic value among Hahoe masks. Its expression is generally gentle, mixed with bombastic and leisurely expressions, just as goes the saying; “Yangban picks his teeth, even when he drinks water”. The separarte chin with a hanging string makes firm the mouth when drooping the head, and thus changes himself into an angry face. Dancing form: Yangban‘s swaggering steps.”

If a mask of gold hides all deformities, what does a mask of wood hide?

And for your enjoyment, here are some more photos:

A modern take on the Aristocrat

A modern take on the flirtatious woman.

Just in time for Halloween

Not a mask, but still picture-worthy