Monday, March 28, 2011

SPAM and bloodshed!!!!!

1)... it speaks for itself, before you decide on what this is, admit... it looks tasty!
2) Katie, her cousin and a few random Koreans who insisted on being in our picture- at the 518 Memorial Park
3)/4) Democracy Uprising

Not to be a snob but never in my life did I think I would eat canned meat (spam). Well… this week I did it. I really need to practice what I preach- don't knock it until you've tried it right?! D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S indeed and happy I was. Now of course I doctored it up a little bit. I made a tasty breakfast out of it… corned beef hash. Korea would not even know what to do if they tasted meat like real corn beef. So… I skinned and chopped a few potatoes, threw in a little onion, diced the spam, tossed it in… a little spice… BAM, (as Emeral would say) got it all brown and pretty, a fried egg on the side and there it was, my breakfast dinner! Speaking of fried eggs, for the first time in my life I made a perfect over easy egg. For something I enjoy so much, why has it taken me 23 years to perfect it!? I didn't just do it once, I did it twice… on two different evenings. Man, I'm so easily amused!

I don't know what to do with my children. Korean culture is such a kick in the ass and it really kills my younger students. These poor kids, ages 4 and up, (American age that is… Korean age, 5 and up) go to school all day long then have to come to school again with us. Our English Academy is obviously far from a cake walk. Some of the older students do other extracurricular activities after English academy ends…. hapkido, violin, tae-kwon-do, etc. The little bit of free time they have is spent doing homework. I really do think it's child abuse. Luckily, my 4th graders can handle it. Yea, they are hungry because they don't leave TNE till 7:30 which means they don't get home till at least 8:00.. thats a pretty late dinner for a 4th grader who has to do homework before bed at who knows what time. My first graders are not too bad but it's only the first month of school. In my class of seven, I have had three students fall asleep on more than one occasion. When this happens I have to yell at them and write a note home, which I hate doing. If I don't take these precautions then I will get a bad write up in my evaluations via the cameras in the room. The worst is my after school Kinder class. This class is three 4 year olds… I have taught this class every day since the first of March and little Paul falls asleep almost every day. This kid is impossible to wake up and keep awake. He even falls asleep standing with a lollipop in his mouth- hazardous. CHILD ABUSE! Poor kids… they need their sleep and if it was up to me we would have nap time every day!

The weekend was pretty much the same old, same old good fun with good people. I'm wondering if I will ever be karaokeed out. We sing so much, so loud and without hardly ever taking a breath, I feel like I'm working out. I actually woke up Sunday with no voice. I'm a teacher, I should know better… I need to save my voice for yelling at Luigi (my chaotic, misbehaved Kindergardener…. he used to be Bruce Wayne but his parents changed it). On Sunday I went to the 518 Memorial park with a few friends. 518 (5/18/1980) was the date of an intense Democratic uprising that lefts 100's of people dead and even more wounded… some called it a blood bath. I just call it depressing and extremely mournful! Once called a communist-linked rebellion, the uprising is now one of the most venerated chapters in modern Korean history. I watched a documentary about it before I went to the park. If your interested, 518 is vividly explained below. I found it to be quite intriguing. Sunday ended fabulously. A delicious meal… made by me, cooked for an adorable boy …that's always a good way to end the weekend. I'll just leave it at that, it's quite possible he's reading this ;)

Korean Facts/ Randomness:

-Gwanju (the city that I live in… also spelled, Kwangju) means city of light. Gwang means light and Ju means city.
-If you're Korean, it is considered rude to look someone in the eyes when you're talking to them.
-Children are babied way too much in this culture. Often, the Korean secretaries try to take over at lunch and spoon feed my kids (what the hell… I get SO angry at them). They are perfectly capable of doing it themselves but the Koreans just can't stand to not help. It drives me absolutely insane. Just like when I had Jen and Jenny for the first few weeks, they screamed their heads off and I wanted it that way so that they would see that crying got them no where but NO…the Koreans had to come in and sooth them.. hold them… carry them like babies. Once I convinced them that my methods would work, they backed off and what do ya know… it worked! I swear… I'm not a child abuser haha ;)
- Not only are children babied but they are also not disciplined. Kids are extremely rude, they will scream at you and call you names in Korean and the moms just laugh and smile. Now… if I did that as a child my mom would have either stuck a bar a soap in my mouth or my dad would have smacked me with the paint stick.

-518: The park was beautiful and went on for days... I walked around for hours just enjoying the fresh air and reflecting on history.
(Historical Significance)… "The May 18 Democratic Uprising was an explosion of civilian dissatisfaction with the military junta that had seized governmental power in a coup d'etat and circumvented the progress of democracy in Korea. The fact that there were no reports of looting during the crisis sets the Uprising apart from other instances of civil unrest around the world and shows that the attention of all the people was on putting Korea into the path of democracy (this doesn't surprise me in the least… as I have mentioned before, the majority of Koreans are incredibly trusting. Robbery/stealing are not issues in this country). Other examples that demonstrated the oneness of spirit and purpose and the morality of the people include the long lines of citizens who waited to donate blood and the free supplies contributed to the Uprising by show owners.
After the bloody suppression of the Uprising, at the demands of the people to closely investigate the truth for resorting the honors were completed including the conviction of crimes for the new militarists forces of 1980, designation of May 18 as national commemorative day, completion of the project to make the May 18th Cemetery a hallowed ground and the honorable treatment for those involved in the democratic movement.
The May 18 Uprising began by exposing the immortality of the Fifth Republic, which was an extension of the Yushin Regime of Park Chung-hee, but it eventually led to the juntas destruction and the advent of a civil government. It was the background for the first peaceful and democratic changeover of power in 50 years. That is, the May 18 Uprising did not not merely inherit the spirit of independence democracy and peace, which have been expressed in other major civil uprising in history, but it is also recorded as a monumental civil rights struggle in the development of democracy in modern Korean history."- Gwangju City

(The Beginning and Development)… "On May 17, 1980, a politically minded military clique declared marital law to consolidate power after a successful coup d' teat. Martial law was declared in an attention to quell a growing demand by the people for democratization. This clique, led by Major General Chun Doo- wan, sent paratroopers to Korea's major cities, showing their intentions for those who opposed their authority. They also began Operation Brilliant Leave, which was a special plan, utilizing the 3rd, 7th and 11th Airborne, to crush deep rooted pro-democracy feelings in Gwangju.
In the spring of 1980, these feelings for democracy were at a zenith in Gwangju, which led to demonstrations by professors and students against the new junta. The Gwangju Democratic Uprising officially began at 10 o'clock in the mooring on May 18, 1980, when students demonstrating against the schools closing in from of Chonnam National University front gate were beaten and chased off by paratroopers. The students regrouped and began marching to the downtown area. Paratroopers again moved in and began beating and arresting demonstrators as well as innocent bystanders. Angered by the brutality, regular citizens began to join the demonstrations.
High school students joined in the demonstrations, and in an unprecedented show of support, on May 20, taxi drivers, horns blaring and headlights glaring, made their way downtown. In the afternoon, that same day, protesters seer the Munhwa Broadcasting Company's studio on fire for distorting reports of what was happening in Gwangju.
On May 21st, paratroopers indiscriminately fired into crowds of citizens who had gathered to demands as apology for the beatings and arrests of the previous few days. As a result of the bloodshed, the demonstrators began to arm themselves, forming a defensive force called the Citizens Army.
Although Martial Law Forces had completely isolated Gwangju from the outside world, citizens continued in every means of spreading the news of what was happening. Representatives from all walks of life gathered and organized a Citizens Resolution Committee, whose purpose was to find a peaceful end the the Uprising through negotiation and compromise with martial law authorities. But at dawn on May 27th, paratroopers from the 3rd, 7th and 11th Airborne with soldiers from 20th and 31st Divisions of the regular army led by tanks moved on the demonstrators gathered at the Provincial Hall. The Citizens Army fought valiantly, but the rag-tag army was no match for the suppression force. In about an hour and thirty minutes, the mop-up operation was over and the Gwangju Democratic Uprising came to a bloody end, nine days after it began. It was at this moment that the hope for democracy was at its lowest in this country."- Gwangju City

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