Vices we love: I write letters I: An open letter to Korean parents

Monday, May 09, 2005

I write letters I: An open letter to Korean parents

Dear Korean Parents:

I have had the pleasure of the company of your children for nearly half a year now. I have also, in that time, had the honor to meet a great many of you. Please permit this "foreigner" as you refer to me a few brief remarks regarding the state of your children's education and your own parental philosophy.

Many of you are keen for your children to learn English. This is understandable since English is slowly becoming the common language of the world. (Unless the Chinese democratize their current capitalist dictatorship, in which case all bets are off.) I take no quarrel with this aim, as your desire to learn English is how I make my living. It is however no life to be esteemed.
Driven partially by a desire to have your kids learn English, partially by the never-ending quest for bragging rights, and largely by your wish to have as little contact with your offspring as possible, you spend considerable sums sending Kim Junior to private English schools. These schools, you will be shocked to learn, are primarily designed to seperate you from your money. Your children's education is not a consideration. However, since directors are beholden to your wallet, the ooze phony sincerity and (as you know) are attuned to your every miniscule mood shift and treat you as demigods. (This would be the fourth reason to send your kids to private schools.)

The majority of you are in near-sexual throes of ecstacy at the notion of holding power over a program director. This is because most of you are women and have zero rights (and few non-domestic responsibilities) in Korean society. Your husbands are too busy sleeping at work and consorting with prostitutes in karaoke bars to look after you and your child. Thus, having considerable time on your hands and a craving for status, many of you make the most asinine complaints and regularly threaten directors over them. Just today, one of you let loose with the gem that "there are too many boys" in my first grade class. For this, I apologize. I will immediately kick out half of them and my director will selflessly sacrifice his income to placate you. Another of your cabal, having insisted that her daughter, a first-grader, be enrolled in a class of fourth-graders now feels that the material presented is too difficult and (shockingly enough), the children her daughter is with are much older. At my previous place of employ, many of you have objected to my armhair, which you thought was excessively dense. An equal number of you had been hoping for a teacher with blonde hair. Your children, it seems, merit no consideration. Please permit me to discuss your children, if I may.

Your male offspring, and I say this without an ounce of hyperbole, are the most aggressive, swaggering, insensitive, obtuse, violent beasts to have stalked this planet since the days of meat-eating dinosaurs. This comes as no surprise, given that many spend their childhoods, teen years and "adulthood" playing a variety of violent video games such as WarCraft, StarCraft, MindFuckCraft, etc. Quite a few are also rather overweight (I believe "cherubic" is the proper term) and they tend to be the biggest punks of them all. Your male children have kicked me, spat at me, called me fat, called me ugly, attempted to trip me in class, tried to stab me with pencils and have asked me several times to fornicate with myself, an act of such pompous egoism that I rarely engage in it. In short, your sons, both young and old, believe that a temper tantrum, often accompanied by violence, is a perfectly acceptable solution to any impasse presented by life.

Your female children are, until about sixth grade, sweet, almost angelic specimens who will accept anything their male peers dish out. I have noticed this tendency in adult Korean women as well and must say that I find it disturbing. Perhaps if you grew a spine and told older Korean men to fuck off when they were being unreasonable, violent, or just plain unpleasant you would have far fewer frustrations in the course of your daily lives and could exist as independent entities with thoughts, hobbies, careers and social lives of your own, thus not needing the psychological release holding a school director hostage now provides for you. Just a thought.

Finally, some thoughts regarding the study of the English language. English language ability is a skill. You can either use and develop it, or not use it, let it atrophy and die. The choice is yours. Having your child go to a fifty minute class twice a week, usually at night when they are exhausted, does nothing for language development if the child does not read English at home, watch English TV, speak English to her friends, etc. All of this necessitates a level of acceptance of "foreign" influences that you are not psychologically capable of. How you will resolve this inner conflict is up to you but resolve it you must.

Very truely yours,
Yours truly.


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