I’ve been having a low key week. I’m trying to focus on socializing, but it’s tuckered me out just a little bit. Work has been a big effort these past few days, and the weather is getting grimey. I’m behind on my word count, but not by too much. It’s sitting now at about 15,000.
Today we have a big meeting with Center 1 and Center 2, and we are discussing the “Presentation” portion of class for our older levels. The first meeting we had, I was all full of ideas–like a brainstorming meeting in College. I soon realized that this wasn’t exactly how things were supposed to work. I left the meeting confused and set back. We have to make an outline of one story, but so far my work hasn’t really been good enough–but people don’t want me to loose face, so instead of telling me what I did wrong, they just say “I’ll do it for you.” Not exactly the best way to learn, but whatever.
The boss is proposing this change to our presentation system to the big corp for my school. To me, that is a good example of Korean business culture. Nobody does anything without the consent of their superiors. Foreign teachers complain a lot about having to always answer to the Korean teachers. The Korean teachers always have to answer to the boss. The bosses always have to answer to corp. It goes on and on. Everything is so regimented, polite, unchanging. Your quality is measured by how well you fit the mold you were placed in. This is very Confucian, very Taoist–“The Way is like Water, it fits to any shape, and is content with the lowest of places.”
Sigh. I wish I was as enlightened as the Tao these days.
Speaking of the Tao… interesting tidbit that I researched on Wikipedia. The Korean symbol, one that is seen on nearly ALL Buddhist temples (besides the swastika) is a blue, red, and yellow swirl that looks like this. I was intrigued about this symbol, because it’s uniquely Korean. Turns out that it is the Korean Yin and Yang–except it is a trinity instead of a duality. The Chinese yin and yang symbol, with the light and dark swirls, represents heaven and earth, day and night, male and female, and a whole slew of other dual balances. Dark is on the bottom, but is rising, and light is on the top, but is falling. It is in constant motion, and there are dots within the opposite side to say that nothing is entirely pure. This is a symbol of Chinese philosophy, usually associated with Taoism, but I don’t know if it was actually made before or after the supposed writings of Lao Tzu (founder of Taoism.)
Anyway, the Koreans adopted this symbol, but changed the colors. They use red and blue. You can see it on the South Korean flag. (I don’t know what the black bars mean, but I should find out, shouldn’t I?) This symbol is called the Taegeuk, or 대극. Buddhism arrived in Korea over several hundred years, spreading into different kingdoms at different rates. Korean Buddhism adopted this symbol, but added the third lobe–the yellow one–which represents humanity. So instead of just having heaven and earth, there is heaven, earth, and humanity placed in perpetual balance. It is called the Sam-Taegeuk, which literally means “Three-Taegeuk”.
Anyway, there’s a couple interesting tidbits about the things that I’m learning here. My Korean is still atrocious, and I’m quite lazy and don’t feel like studying. I feel like I should step on it, you know. Get working because I only have a year–but then I realize that that’s still ten months, and I get lazy again.
I bought this “Survival Korean” book. It has the phrases in English, romanized Korean, and in 한글. I’ve been practicing writing and reading what I can, but it’s so daunting. Sometimes I play games with my kids, having them say a word and me trying to spell it on the board. Usually I’m good–but there are a lot of sounds that are so similar to my untrained ears. Like “ah” “aw” and “oh”. I can distinguish “ah” and “oh”, but when you throw the third one in there I’m lost–“aw” could be a, o, or u in the English language. Then there’s “u” and “eu”, like an “oo” sound and a harsher “ew” sound. Impossible, I tell you. But thank god I can read, I’ll tell you that. Anyone who is considering coming to Korea to live should learn to read. It helps SO much. I pick up words and things, and I can properly understand how to pronounce things, because if I can spell it, I can say it with the correct inflection. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t read.
Anyway, I also got postits and plastered Korean words all over my house. It’s helping I know that the word for toothbrush is chit-sol. And the word for key is yeolshwi.
But enough of this. Back to the word count!