Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Little Off the Top

Well, this is a first. One of my second period students was moping around and moaning more than usual this morning. He usually does a fair amount of moaning, as he has virtually no command of spoken English, and he spends fifty minutes a day in my class, which consists of almost nothing but spoken English.

Still, as I say, he was doing this with greater than usual emphasis, and finally asked if I could give him a slip to go home. "Why?" I asked, somewhat reasonably.

"Aaiiee!" he said, shaking his head miserably.


After a discussion, the best speaker in the class says to me: "Teacha, you know--penis--cut?" with a scissors-like hand gesture or two.

"You mean circumcision?" I ask.

Yeah. So it turns out this kid--eighteen years old or so--got circumcised yesterday and was in considerable discomfort today.

The speaker pointed at another student. "Him--no!"

It turns out that this procedure has become a sort of manhood rite among Koreans since the time of the Korean War. According to this survey (pdf) from the British Medical Journal:
Results: The overall proportion of circumcised was 1306(78.0%) and an additional 192 (11.5%) wished to be circumcised later. Circumcision was carried out mostly during their elementary and middle school years. Of men circumcised,
the decision whether to circumcise was most often made by their parents. Of the subjects, 75.0% believed that circumcision is necessary, while 2.9% believed it to be
unnecessary. Among those who believed circumcision to be necessary, the most common reason was to improve penile hygiene (89.1%).
Conclusions: Our results indicate a positive attitude toward circumcision in South Korean men, linking it with hygienic practices. Circumcision in South Korea depends on the perpetuation of cultural beliefs that support it.


SuperDrew said...

I always wondered why they just didn't do that right away...I mean hey, we are going to do something crazy and painful to your pecker, so let's wait until you are old enough for it to really hurt!

Anyway, I'm going to wait here for the genital mutilation crazies to come out and start talking about how wrong circumcision is.

SuperDrew said...

Sorry to double comment, but I started looking into this and found a great quote on Wikipedia:

A 2001 study of 20-year old South Korean men found that 78% were circumcised. [31] The authors comment "South Korea has possibly the largest absolute number of teenage or adult circumcisions anywhere in the world. Because circumcision started through contact with the American military during the Korean War, South Korea has an unusual history of circumcision."

Tanner Brown said...

Oh my god, you fell for the classic "my foreskin has been sliced off" routine. I invented that!

Anonymous said...

yikes! Those crajie Koreans!