Hey guys. I reckon its time I start making some contributions for this little blog. Tiffany has turned into a pretty prolific blogger, persevering through the wordpress learning curve and crappy ‘borrowed’ wifi connections. I got her going then kind of threw my hands up and said ‘I’ll do it later when the interwebs work as they should.’ Now that we have a pretty rockin connection, I suppose now I have no excuse other than sheer laziness.

Well, here I am. First post.  What to say? I could talk about the difficulties of learning the language and how social status affects word forms (baffling), the drinking culture (prodigious), the yellow dust (maddening), the food (awesome), or about the North Korean situation (terrifyingly laughable). Instead I’d like to talk about baseball, specifically the World Baseball Classic.

Conceived by MLB and first held in 2006 (with Japan as the winner), the WBC is sort of like the Olympics in that international teams compete for what amounts to international bragging rights. The difference is that it isn’t the Olympics.

Two weeks ago, I’d never even heard of the WBC, but walking around I couldn’t help but notice every other television was tuned to either a game-in-progress or highlights of the last game. I thought to myself, ‘Isn’t it too early for baseball? And do the Koreans really like American baseball that much?’ Once I looked closer and didn’t see such American baseball luminaries as Coco Crisp and Chris Sabo, I figured out something else was going out. To learn more, I asked the best source of Korea information: my upper middle school class.

Me: “So, what can you guys tell me about these baseball games.”

“Teacher, teacher, It’s the world baseeeball classic! Korea will beat America, sorry, and Korea will defeat Japan” and “Korea is the best basesball team in the world” and  “Do you want Korea or Japan to win” and “Do you hate Japan, too?”

Well, I said, I hope Korea wins, but maybe I’m just rooting for the home team. (Teacher, what is rooting?) Whoever wins deserves to win. And no, I don’t hate Japan but I can understand why you might.

When Korea lost the last game of the series (and it was a close one), here is what I heard from the students.
“They tried their best.”

Isn’t that all we can do?

As a side note, the U.S. team lost to Korea.

I had intended to go into how the WBC rivalry between Japan and Korea is a reflection of their troubled history as neighbors in the region as well as their healthy economic rivalry (why am I thinking of Hyundai and GM?) For those who aren’t familiar with this history, maybe I’ll get into it at some point in the future. Let’s just say that many Koreans have a fair amount of animosity towards the Japanese. I learned this my first day. Here’s what happened.

I needed copies. The copy machine broke. When you push a button a mangled piece of paper would come out. The director pulled it out into the hall and started opening trays, pushing buttons and pulling levers, whatever you do to fix copy machines. Soon two more Korean teachers joined in and you’ve got three guys working on this big Canon copy machine, each doing one thing or another while I’m watching the clock and thinking ‘should I be teaching right now? Maybe its okay, the director is here.’ Finally one of them throws up his hands, turns to me and says ‘of course its broken, its Japanese.’
Welcome to Korea.

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