Tuesday, August 24, 2010

#58 Korean School

Raise your hand if you have ever attended Korean School.  Beuller? Beuller?  Raise your hand if you have ever attended Korean School while simultaneously learning tae-kwon-do, Korean calligraphy, and fan dancing while being forced to memorize the Korean national anthem? I thought so.  Even now, when I hear it playing I have the sudden urge to stand up and sing...and I don't even remember the words.  To this day all I remember is "Dong-hae-mool-gwah...blah blah blah blah....woo-ri-nah-rah mahn-saeeeeeeeee!!!!". Why this Pavlovian reflex you ask? Out of a deep sense of ethnic pride?  No.  Out of fear.  Stank Eye can cripple you (See #5) even from a distance.

Chances are, you attended Korean School at your local church on a Saturday morning.  Walk into any Korean School/Church at 9am on a Saturday and you will see baleful looking Korean children fearfully reciting the Korean alphabet or being forced to read passages on obedience out of the Korean Bible next to large portraits of the Lord.  Because of her abiding love for Jesus (see #44) a Church/Korean School is the perfect place for a Korean Mom to send her progeny.  Jesus loves Church therefore Jesus loves Korean School.  According to my Korean Mom, Jesus would make every day Saturday or Sunday just so he could go to Korean School/Church.  Why Saturday you ask?  Because if you want to go to Harvard and become a doctor or lawyer, there is no such thing as the weekend.  Ever. There is school(Mon-Fri), Korean School(Sat), and Church(Sun), until the end of time.  Forget that Saturday afternoon pool party or dinner and a movie with your buds.  Sneaking off?  Don't even think about it.  Your Korean Mom will find you and when she does, there will be a Korean School Tutor waiting for you.

For me, Korean school was the nightmare of nightmares.  Tim Burton would have creamed his pants.  I, like you had to give up every single saturday and some friday nights to attend Korean School.  However, much to my chagrin, my Korean Mom was also the Korean School President.  Let me clarify.  The Korean Mom's ability to rip away your saturdays for all eternity makes her drunk with power.  However, if she is also your Korean School teacher or any sort of authority figure, this immediately turns her into Valdemort.  Only one of you will survive.  Sorry to break it to you, but it's going to be her.

Let's back up.  Not only did I have to attend Korean School, my Korean Mom, the president of weekend torture, gave me an annual report card.  That little place called hell? Yes, I have been there and survived to tell the tale.  How did I do? You know how at the end of the year each Korean School gives out prizes for achievement?  The only trophy I ever took home was one for participation.  Basically, I came, I saw, I failed.  

Most recently, I have been preparing to take a Korean language competency exam for grad school.  Don't ask why.  I went to the source of all Korean School power to ask for her help.  After some time, she handed me this:


No, your eyes do not deceive you.  My Korean Mom created her own dictionary.  Not only will Korean Moms make you do extra homework (see #46), they will create their own dictionaries and textbooks from which you are to study.  My name is Chiyo, I am 30 years old, and I attend Korean Mom School.  *hangs head and cries*

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your mom is awesome haha. I do notice some type-o's in your mom's dictionary though. Maybe you shouldn't mention it lest you get the stank eye.

Charles Juhn said...

So stressful... :'(

Lida said...

Are you... me?? Between normal school, Korean school, and Sunday school, I basically attended school for 14 years. This post definitely strikes a chord!

hana said...

I actually enjoyed going because I was the best. LOL and my mom was a teacher too. I might be rare but I only have good memories :D

ngf said...

korean school president...korean school president...korean school president...

that's got to hurt...do you play the guitar and/or piano and sing in choir, too?

Gina Oh | Gina Maxine Photography said...

and why is it that all the Korean moms/dads write alike?

HannahBG said...

I feel your pain. I grew up overseas, and not only was my father the principal of the Korean school, he was also the president of the Korean Association for years. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Whoa, I went to Niles Korean School. To this day, I still get sad when I think about the hundreds of hours of Saturday morning cartoons I've missed.

Edward said...

Win!

Edward said...

Chiho,

Question. How is it that all Korean moms have the same handwriting when they write in English?

It's as if they all got taught cursive in one big giant Korean mom catholic grammar school!

Anonymous said...

you revealed your true identity!
nice pic.

also, remember doing the cha-lee-uht stance at Korean school?
it's like the north korean spirit ingrained in us...scary.

Laura OK said...

Love it! How you manage to explain this universal agony with such humor, I don't know. You make my day.

Anonymous said...

You don't know how much I needed this post today! Crappy week at work, but this lifted my spirits as I literally laughed out loud in my office. I went to Korean School too. They used to serve Sunny D and Yum Yum chocolate doughnuts. To this day, both Sunny D and Yum Yum chocolate doughnuts make me want to vomit. I'd rather eat "bbun-deh-gee" than those two things!

SKML Fan

Anonymous said...

Thanks Chiyo for bringing back tortured memories! As a Korean-American born in the US whose parents wanted to practice their english with their kids, but still wanted us to somehow learn korean, I was always placed in korean school classes many grade levels below my actual school grade. Still remember the shame of being a 5th grader that the 5 year olds could outperform! I guess I redeemed myself as a high school senior when I got into Hah-bahd... where again I took korean classes, which were much better and at least everyone was the about same age.

J.Han said...

I'm pretty sure that out of desperation, my parents somehow "one upped" the regular Korean parents who had access to Korean School for their kids. We moved to a predominantly white town and therefore had no access to Korean Church...so my parents sent us to THE MOTHERLAND pretty much every summer, to spend time with relatives and go to Ha-Gwon and take Korean lessons. Bru-tal. Fortunately I was able to (barely) pass my language proficiency test for college thanks to those torturous summers. I still remember writing lists of all the "American" food that I wanted to eat when I got back home. thanks for this post!

kimchikraut said...

And when you are done with that, you can start studying for the Hanja Proficiency Exam.

Jubella said...

Love this post. By the way, Niles Korean School starts up again on September 11th.

Suzanne said...

I went to Korean School...I remember them showing us a map of North and South Korea and having us repeat that South is "good" and North is "bad"

For my mom's birthday [Sept 6th] I let her drone on and on about how I need to refinance my mortgage.

Stuff Artists Like said...

I love this blog....all the posts have entertained me a lot. I write Stuff Artists Like on tumblr but it's nothing as awesome as this...please keep posting! XD

Kimchi Fried Rice said...

I feel the pain.

Heather said...

I LOVE your blog! So cute and funny!

Jullietta said...

I wonder if North Korean mums are the same?

Garrett said...

I live in Korea currently and teach, and this blog is toooooo funny. Good stuff

Virginia said...

I love the comments above from your readers, "Why do Korean moms write the same?" My mom's handwriting looks like that too! I went to Korean school also every Saturday mornings. I hated it. I hated it so much I would start fights with the other kids...okay boys mostly. Although I think back on it now and I wished I had paid attention in class cause I feel like such a dumbass when I speak Korean to other Koreans now and especially living in Diamond Bar/Los Angeles... huge Korean community. You can't get away from it. I'm also one of those kids who took korean art class, music class AND korean dancing class every saturday! Thanks, mom... I love your blog! Been reading it since the beginning. Enjoying life in Cali?

Anonymous said...

I think learning the Korean alphabet first affects how Korean folks write in Latin letters.
I hated Korean school with the WHITE HOT PASSION of a 1000 suns. So much that to this day, I will fight with any of my hipster/yuppie/hippie friends who are all, "Wow, I wish I were you. Yeah, man, we have to teach our kids to be bilingual, 'cuz, it matters and stuff." They romanticize an element of cross cultural upbringing that for me, growing up on the Jersey Shore, was the last thing I wanted to do- be further marked as different.
I used Korean in grad school, too, but I don't want to use it again.

Peter said...

But as whimsical and glib as the rest of your post is, the photos of the dictionary she put together for you really got to me, and your words immediately soured. Her handwriting looks like my mom's; perhaps that's why it strikes a chord.

But imagine, if you will, thirty years hence, when you are a tired, aging 60-year-old, and your child calls you up to say that she is going to be taking a Korean test. Consider the level of love, devotion, and commitment it would take to motivate you to even starting such a project. Such a labor of love should not be so carelessly mocked, turned into another exhibit in your gallery of eye-rolling, "can you believe how overbearing Asian parents are" gallery.

I went to Chinese school, where my mom taught and eventually went on to become school president. I didn't enjoy it very much and didn't learn a whole lot. As a first-generation Asian immigrant, I know that growing up in America under the strains of two different cultures can be difficult.

But we should never forget that our parents were grappling with the other side of the same struggle, namely, trying to understand how to raise a child in a foreign land and in a terrifyingly foreign culture. I don't think my parents necessarily always made the right choices, nor do I think that their strictness was always warranted; but I have the maturity now to look back and recognize that they were trying to make the best decisions possible under very, very difficult circumstances.

In summary, if you think you had it bad as an immigrant kid, try being an immigrant parent!

Chiyo said...

Dear Peter: Thanks for your comment, but I object to the projection of your personal experiences and memories of your childhood onto me. I had a wonderful eye opening not eye-rolling experience growing up as a child of immigrants, enough to now be doing graduate work on the same subject. I have a great banter-filled, appreciative, communicative, and loving relationship with my KM...who would like me to inform you that she doesn't consider herself to be "tired, aging, or 60...yet".

Lillian said...

ROTFL, I love this post

Success Is said...

I love this post. Still remember the shame of being a 4th grader that the 4 year olds could outperform.

Anonymous said...

I stumbled on your blog because of this post. I went to Niles Korean School for over almost 10 years! Where did you find this pic?!

I must admit, i am very thankful to my KM (and KD for that matter!). i have 2 older brothers who can barely speak or write korean. By the time i was born, they realized i would learn all of the english i would need to know while living in America, going to school, and socializing with my friends. they refused to speak to me unless in Korean.... and i'm proud to say, i speak and write korean fluently.

ZP said...

Yup, pretty much brings back memories. This is hilarious.

Anonymous said...

This post is so funny! My KM also sent me to Korean School on the weekends. They taught me how to cook so that I could be a good Korean wife someday! Dok-po-kee anyone?

Kenny said...

Somehow I got placed in an advanced class in 2nd grade and the way the teacher was explaining how Korean sentences were formed didn't correlate with what I was learning in ACTUAL school.

Every other second, I would be raising my hand in the class going "What's a preposition?" "What's a verb?" "What's a noun?" and the high schoolers in the class would explain it to me. (Of course, I still didn't get it)

It was sofa king retarded.

Joong Won said...

is this in Niles, IL, because I swear I went to summer school at the same place not WAY tooo far back in the past....

Anonymous said...

do you speak korean fluently? if not, you should be happy your mom sent you to korean school..

but tin the first place why the heck do korean parents not teach korean to their kids from infancy? freaking retards.

Ace said...

LOL! That bites!

Anonymous said...

u bring shame to korea....

hawksfansarah said...

Can we see more of the dictionary?

I'm studying Korean and would like more experience reading handwritten, as opposed to typewritten words.

Also, I'd be interested in knowing what vocabulary your mom finds important.

Thanks,
Sarah