Friday, September 5, 2008

Smokin' in the Boy's Room

'Everybody Say No' is the title of an article in the Expat section of today's Korea Herald. The story begins:
Seoul is a smoker`s paradise. While other cities have completely banned smoking in bars and restaurants, many here don`t even have a non-smoking section. For those who don`t smoke, this can be more than annoying at times.

The author then neglects to mention the inconveniences smokers face everyplace else in the world, all based on the shaky, unscientific premise that second-hand cigarette smoke in a public place is a health hazard. Using that logic, we should ban cars, lawnmowers, cell phones (that's handu pon in Konglish) and kids with their pants down around their crotch (not that that's a health hazard, really, I just hate them).

Anyway, as I entered the gate at school this morning, I asked Mr. Hwang about the kids standing along the walkway holding up "No Smoking" signs--there are three or four every morning. Anti-smoking activists? I asked. He puzzled out what I meant, then said No, they were caught smoking at school yesterday; this is their punishment.

Like schools everywhere, Young-Il is a smoke-free campus, for teachers as well as students. However, the teacher's lounge on my floor is an exception. The room has been pretty much taken over by the art teacher, Mr. Chong-gi, who is an incredibly talented artist. When I get a camera, I will post some of his stuff. When not in class, he sits in there and paints, and smokes like a chimney. I've even spied a couple cans of maek-chu lying around.

I told him I thought this was a tobacco-free campus; he agreed that it was, but just not in here. If you want to smoke in here, it is okay, he said. Double standard? Sure. But I've always believed in that: adults are different from children. Setting a good example for children is not the same as living by the exact rules they do.
The real reason dinosaurs went extinct, by Gary Larson
The real reason dinosaurs went extinct, by Gary Larson

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