We have some friends who say that Korea is just a little odd.
*Motorcycles drive on the sidewalk
*Koreans grocery shop on weekend evenings - the later the busier
*Dogs here have their ears dyed hot pink or lime green
*Koreans advertise using white people - there are so many ads with Caucasians!
*Rice is eaten for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
*Couples dress alike as a sign of their affection towards one another
*Koreans use umbrellas to protect themselves from the snow
*Everything in Korea is healthy for you - anything you consume, as long as it is Korean, is good for you
*Banks are open Monday to Friday, 10am - 4:30pm, but most people work Monday to Friday, 9am - 5pm
*You need your ID card for everything
*Koreans know their blood type (they judge personalities based on blood type)
*Konglish - a mixture of Korean and English that results in quite an interesting language
While these things are definitely odd, I am able to take them all in stride. Today though, we experienced a part of Korean culture that was just a bit too freaky for me.
We went to the Paju English Village.
The village was financed by the Korean government in an attempt to improve the English skills of the Korean population. I was told that many Korean English teachers do not support the English Village. They feel that the village was a huge expense that does not pay off. This place is huge - and it must have cost a ton of money to create (and maintain).
The trip started off with us going through customs to enter the English Village - a fun activity, not too odd.
Next we visited a post office and a police station. The kids loved being locked up in the jail cell, though the programming left a lot to be desired. The hands on activities were sorely lacking - I could have taught a better lesson in my own classroom, but that wasn't the problem.
Walking through this village was just surreal. The village was designed to provide Korean children with the opportunity to speak English. Kids wander around the village (which is HUGE!) and participate in various activities with native English speakers (this could have been my job!) Throughout the village are speakers playing messages in English and English music - Pink, Britney Spears.... There are regular running coffee shops (we had coffee at Tom n Toms), pizza joints, and even a pub (though I'm not sure that they served beer... I hope not!)
The oddest part was the musical that we attended. The whole time that I watched this terrible show all I could think of was - this could have been me.... Think of the outrageous kids shows they have on TV in Canada - over the top songs, really uber energetic actors, and bad story lines. This was an attempt at that, but it kind of failed. The English was spoken too quickly, and the songs were terrible. Now, I love me a good show. I must admit, that even though I was appauled at the show, I was also intrigued. While some of the male teachers fell asleep, I couldn't look away...
I'm sure that I have not fully captured the oddity that was the Paju English Village. It was just freaky. Can't say much more than that... I wish that you could have been there to experience this oddity that is the English Village.