A week of crazy students, very late nights and James Blunt

This week I’m right back in love with Korea. Here’s why…

My student seems to be having a moment of insanity. The regime change (:p) at work has meant that we tend to be teaching the same classes for much longer than normal, which gives us a chance to really get to know the students and get really involved in their lives. I’ve come particularly close to a group of designers called IZM, who I teach on a Wednesday and Friday night. They are total beginners, but so enthusiastic and we have the most fun lessons I can possibly imagine. I went out drinking with them after work for the second time on Friday night – around twenty of us played Korean drinking games. These extremely dangerous games involve drinking intolerable amounts of alcohol if you happen to be sat next to somebody who flicks to coil off a bottle top. Not a good way to have a quiet night! We ate lots of very odd looking Sushi (including sea cucumber and very recently deceased squid – blrgh!) and then headed for Noraebang. Noraebang (singing room) is never a good idea at the best of times, but when you’re naturally in the thick of it as a ‘guest’ and also the only person who can actually sing the English songs… well it’s fair to say it was pretty embarrassing.

Having finished giving slurred and out of tune renditions of Oasis, Hoobastank and for some reason Wham the tide turned… my students decided they wanted to see Western drinking culture in action. Despite my adamant protests that were in Seoul and there isn’t any Western drinking culture (not strictly true, but I didn’t want to encourage them…) five of the gang insisted we went off to Hongdae – Seoul’s party capital university district. Obviously I had to give them shock value – we’re talking about a group who’s collective past experience of drinking is almost entirely in restaurants and singing rooms – so I picked the seediest bar in Hongdae, laughed at my students watching people dance on tables and deny any of the people there could possibly be Korean (most of them were…). I eventually stumbled in significantly worse for wear at around 5am. I guess I’m lucky it was my Saturday off; I’d been planning on about midnight…

By the time I stumbled out of bed on Saturday and put together a couple of articles it was time to go out again – Rokon donated Helena and I a couple of James Blunt tickets in exchange for writing the review. Apparently he’s too unfashionable for anyone else to be interested in, which frankly I can deal with knowing how good he was live at Glastonbury. He turned out to be pretty great again; I enjoyed writing an article mocking the slaves to fashion who give him loads of stick afterwards, though whether the magazine will publish it remains to be seen! After James Blunt it was back to Hongdae for round two: an antique Soju bar. For those who haven’t cottoned on yet, Soju is the local poison, drunk in vast quantities by businessmen pretty much every night. Believe me doing two nights a week puts me at least 50% behind all the locals… An ‘antique’ Soju bar involves mixing the stuff with fruit, the dangerous result of which is a great drink which tastes like it has no alcohol in it. One to watch out for. Helena and I finally finished up watching an awesome Korean band called Rocktigers play to all of about twenty people. They didn’t seem to care at all, respect. Another very late one.

Obviously on Sunday I had to stay up late and listen to Villa play Everton – which was amazingly actually kept me awake after a weekend like that. I love how thrilling my team is right now, just got to grab that 5th place….

J x

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