▲ Class president, Choi Chang Kwon. Photo by Wanda Wynn
We had D-R-A-M-A this week and a great lesson in Korean culture for me! Imagine an episode of a Korean-style reality show like Big Brother; you know, where people get evicted from the Haenyeo School house. But in the Korean version there’s a superhero, of sorts.
Here’s the scene: seven students were caught by the principle drinking before class. He was very upset about the situation and lectured us about the dangers of drinking and swimming. In his very stern voice he told us the guilty students were all kicked out of school for their unacceptable behavior (meanwhile, they were all still sitting in class with us). My heart was broken. They were some of my favorite classmates, for obvious reasons, and people for whom I would love to share a night of drinking.
Once the lecture was over, we filed out of the classroom to get into wetsuits and head into the water. As we were doing our warm up exercises, I noticed my fallen classmate in the restaurant area. I ran to the window and pressed my nose up against the glass in a pet-store-puppy-like fashion. It was my non-verbal way of saying, “Please don’t leave me and take all the fun with you!” They smiled and came to the door and told me it was ok. I adamantly disagreed. I didn’t want them to go.
▲ The principal and the "forgive-and-forget" toast. Photo by Wanda Wynn
Enter the superhero, aka our class president, to save the day. Like any good superhero he has a super power, the power of persuasion. He fearlessly petitioned our principle to give the students another chance. He begged, he pleaded. Ok, I don’t know if he really did that or not, but in the end they were granted leniency and spared. Of course we were told, “Just this one time and never again!”
After class, we were all in the restaurant eating and drinking. I looked up from the table to see my seven friends and the principle toasting each other with makgeolli. They all agreed it was a forgive-and-forget situation.
Come to think of it, the principle was more upset that the students didn’t try to hide the drinking from him than he was about the actual fact they were drinking.
Note to self: Never drink before class and if I do, hide it.
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