Friday, September 19, 2008

Heavy Equipment in the Playground

For about a week, there has been a pile of rebar, bricks and other construction-type materials sitting on the edge of the playground at school. It was a mystery to everyone I asked about it.

Today, the mystery was solved: by arriving time--7:45 AM--there was a large breaker, like a backhoe with a jackhammer attachment, breaking up the lower part of the parking lot, with the purpose of enlarging it. By lunchtime, a ten foot trench had been excavated to a depth of about three feet, and a mound of rock and dirt piled alongside.

On the way to my building from the lunchroom, I stopped to watch for a while--what male of the species isn't fascinated by heavy machinery?--as a front end loader was removing dirt. Sounds pretty normal, right? EXCEPT: the kids were at recess, playing soccer, and the front end loader was traversing right through the middle of the game! There was no construction fencing, no Do Not Cross ribbon, nothing between the cavorting students and five tons of killer construction equipment. In fact, the workers were making less than little attempt to steer clear of the kids.

In the States, no one would even need to get injured before the lawsuits started flying. Welcome to Korea. So anyway, I was watching this scene with interest not unmixed with mortal fear, when I was suddenly surrounded by a large gaggle of students. This is not that unusual, for I am something of a celebrity in the neighborhood.

I had just been talking to one student about his brother who lived in "New Jerlun" or somewhere close to that ... New Jersey, New Harlem, New Brunswick, New--Ah ha--Zealand!... when another student was thrust forward by the mob. "Talk, Maury, say to him!"

Well, he wasn't Maury--they were calling him Maori, because he had spent some of his childhood years in New Jerlun. They wanted him to prove he could speak English by holding a conversation with me. As I have mentioned, Koreans are very desirous of English language skills, and are also highly competitive. However, it's pretty tough to hold a reasonable conversation surrounded by fifty gawking listeners. Fortunately (?), one of the kids got too close to the construction workers, and the crowd was forced to disperse.

Gifted vase, by Mr. Chun
In other news, Young-Il principal, Mr. Chun, brought me a Chosuk gift, a piece of "porcelain" he had created himself. As you can see, it is a lovely ceramic vase, which I will, of course, treasure as a prize of my Korean experience. Jealous, aren't you? I thought so.


rwellor said...

Korean Construction.. it's almost oxymoronic... but I suppose it is fast..

Sorry to ask you this in comments, but I didn't see an email address?

My name is Roger Wellor (I found you on the Korean Blogger site) and I’m doing a study of the successes and failures of Korean International Tourism Marketing. I have a brief survey online that I invite you to take. It is designed to be answered by Korean/US bloggers and to give a slight outline of how these cross-cultural thinkers evaluate Korea’s International Marketing.

Your email will not be used for anything other than this survey (in fact it is not a required field in the survey) and if you have any questions, I can be contacted here at

Here is the link:

thank you,


Tuttle said...

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