Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Korean Kids Write the Darndest Things

One of my responsibilities at school is to grade essays. Over time, I copy-pasted and emailed some of the ones I found funny to myself and built up a little collection. I can't remember the author for most of them, but there's something of each student's personality there. You also get a sense for Korean language in word-for-word translation and fuzzy grammar. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed grading these. You better believe style points counted big.

Highlights to look for:

Olympic speed skater Apollo Ohno is called a bastard

Foods are baked on "fly pens"

A student using an online translator inadvertently makes a sick rap lyric ("a carrot cuts a virtue, and I roast it ,and an egg divides it to HuinJa and NoReunJa, and I post it")

One student dreams of becoming a dinosaur doctor and making a thesis for scientific circles while another aspires to the job of "dog's beautician."

Horses say "ihin!" and monkeys say "okki okki!"

A student hates goats because they don't fight

Hamsters "emit a squeaks upwards. It's very wonder."

Another student acknowledges that some would consider the Korean tradition of eating dog meat "crazy."

Parents are a "precious existence"

Mice become cheese detectives

Topic: Sports

Author Unknown:

I like sports very much and I can any sports very well. these days I watch winter olympic. I watched short track and speed skating. It is very exciting. and when I watch them I am pungent. Korean short track is amazing! when start we were last but they catch up to first. but there was some fouls so I was angry. korea was skating very well but Americans are did foul in womans american did foul so we could not have gold medal and mans Oh no did foul very much so I am angry for american. speed skating is amazing too. I think it is very fast I envy them . I want feel that speed . It will be very cool and get rid of stress. 샤니 데이비스 is very good athlete. he had gold medal and it is amazing. I like him If I was olympic athlete in speed skating I could have gold medal. and snow boarding was very excited I want learn it . It looks nice and great. I do not like apolo anton ohno he is bastard. he would caught korean athlete and he do foul very much so I do not like apolo anton ohno. germany is rank 1 now gold 7 silver 9 bronze 5 and america is rank 2 gold 7 silver 8 bronze 10 and 노르웨이 is rank 3 now gold 6 silver 3 bronze 5 and canada is rank 4 now gold 5 silver 4 bronze 1 now and swiss is rank 5 now gold 5 silver 0 bronze 2 now and 대 한 민 국 is rank 6 now gold 4 silver 4 bronze 1 now. it is good grade that rank 6 in all world I think korea is doing hardly I wish 김 연 아 has good grade in figure skating . She is fantastic. she play against asada mao but I think she can not win 김 연 아 I believe her and I am proud of korea athlete

Topic: Favorite Food

Author Unknown, but apparently very focused on directions:

I like food very much. But I hate vegetable. However, I like kimci, because it is korean food. Kimci material is cabbage. Kimci recipe is this. First, make the kimci spice. Second, apply the spice on the kimci. Third, ferment the kimci. Then, the kimci is complete! Next food is junk food. It is chicken! I like chicken very much. I always want eat chicken. You see, chicken recipe is very simple. First, smear flour on the chicken. Next, fry the chicken. Then the chicken is complete!!!!!! World is wide, food is much! Worldeast people usually eat rice. worldwest people usully eat steak. Worldeast people use the chopsticks and spoon, but worldwest people use fork and knife.

I will introduce other korea food. It is bulgogi. I don't know how to make the bulgogi. But many foreigner like bulgogi. I like bulgogi too. I like Italy food. Pizza, spaghetti,etc... That food is representation Italy food. Pizza recipe is this process. First, make the flour dough. And make thin and circle. Next, cheese, ham, etc place on the flour dough. Next, the pizza put in an oven. Wait 10 minutes, then the pizza is compelte. Next food is french toast. First, mix the egg, milk, salt, sugar. Next, bread wet into the mix. Next, bake the bread on the fly pen. Then french toast is complete!!!!!. French toast recipe is very simple. So you can cook this food easily. You can usually eat this food. Next food is japen food. It is sushi. I can eat this food. But I don't like this food. So I don't how to make sushi. But many japenses, foreigners like this japen food. Finally I like food very much!!"

Author Unknown, clearly copied and pasted from an online translator:

I will do ti about seasoned bar rice cakes, Long and slender rice-cake cuts with 4cm by length of a degree, and I cut it to 2-4fork, and beef cuts it into small pieces, I sell and a dropwort, a carrot cuts a virtue, and I roast it ,and an egg divides it to HuinJa and NoReunJa, and I post it, and I each cut it with an agaric, altitudes, And I roast meat and the mushroom which seasoned in a pot, and I pourt water, and I insert a rice cake and a carrot in, and I put sugar, I place an egg to have cut with a lozenge to a bowl, and I scatter a pine-nut kernel.

Topic: Dream for the future

Min Jae:

I like dinosaur for long because The dinosaur is olden reptiles and dinosaur has so much secret. I want to get a doctorate and trable around the world look for dinosaur fossil. and make thesis for scientific circles. then scholars will respect me, and I will become a famous dinosaur doctor. I must be a famous dinosaur doctor and make a lot of money and give much pocket money to my mother and father.

Su Yeon:

My dream is dogs beautician. When I young,my dream is doctor. But doctor is study very well. I don't like study. So now my dream is dogs beautician. dogs beautician is special and fun. It is nice job. Because I like animals and specially I like puppy. it is cut and lovely. So Mt dream is dogs beautiful. But I want to a doctor and teacher and caricaturist. But doctor is study very well. teacher is love and like children and study well. And caricaturist is draw very well. I don't like study and I'm not good at draw. dogs beautician is puppy beauty culture. So always look at the puppy. I had puppy. but it is not now. It give other people. So I want to see.
Topic: Favorite Animals

Se Min:


I like animal hamster and puppy and rabbit and husky. animal is nuisance. animal is characteristic cute,scary. I want grow animal! But mom say 'animal is nuisance' and 'Don't animal!!!' I mom's angry me scary. There is lately ninetendo chep in 'grow puppy'.

I do ride a horse! I wear a safety helmet. Horse said 'ihin' Horse is dirty! Horse nose in runny!!! I did look runny scene, I by that time a promise Don't ride!!!

I did look monkey. monkey is said 'okkii okkii'and I throw banana. animal is fun fun fun fun !!!

Su Yeon:

I like hamsters of animals. Because they are very cute. When they eat sunflower sew, It's very cute. They're very lovely. I'm keeping the hamster. But I didn't gave her name, yet. My hamster is boy. But he looks like a girl. Oh, my god. If it die, I'll cry. I like cat,too. But they have sharp nails. Anyway I love them. Also I like puppy,too!! When they bark, I'm very happy. "Bow-wow!" What's the hamster's voice? Sometimes, they're emit a squeak. Not "Zeeeck!", It's "Zeeck↗!" They're emit a squeak up. It's very wonder.

Chewbar (real name Ju Hyeong, and I started correcting this one):

I like animals,but I don't like several animals.And my favorite animals is (are) lions and tigers and monkeys and dogs,and I like many animals very much!And I hate chickens and cows and pigs and a sloth.They are very dirty and fat and lazy.And I like sheep, too!Because Sheeps fur is very soft and warm.And the goat is very hate (I hate the goat very much).The goat (looks) is very look like weak and It doesn't fight!I want to fight even animals!So I like lion and tiger,and I like monkey because monkey is very smart.So I like nearly every animal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Jeong Hoon:

I hate touch the animals. But I like see the animals. I will write each animals are a strong point and a weak point. First, tiger's strong point is intrepid. Have you ever heard tiger's roaring? It is very scared but this roaring is have brave spirit. However, tigers were sometimes ate human. Second, rabbits are very fast. And rabbits are have a long ears. But they are very weak. So strong animals eat rabbits. Third, turtles are live long. They are live the longest than others animals. There are can live 200 years!!!!!!! But they are slower than others animal. Forth, an alligators haven't strong point. It is more danger than tigers, lions, cheetahs etc. They are very ugly. And they're eyes very scared, they're tooth very dangerous. I think we must kill them. Fifth, hamsters are very cute. So my sister is very like hamster. I like them,to. But sometimes hamsters bite people. Sixth, cows are very big and heave, but they help people's farm work. So people used cows in the farming since the New stone age. And beef is very delicious!! Seventh, dog is more familiar than others aniamls. Maybe human and dogs are best friend!! But some people like eat dogs because to aid. Actually, many korean people like eat dogs, so many foreigner think, 'They are crazy!.' Eighth, cat is very cute aniamls. So people like as dog as cat. But they are very sharp. So cats sometiems bite people. And they eyes very scared. Ninth, cheetah is more fast than others aniamls. But they can't run fast in long time. Tenth, horse is very fast. And they can run fast in long time.

These days most people hunt the wild animals. This behaviors make desruct ecology. So we must love the animals!!!!!!!!

Topic: Parents

Su Yeon:

Parents is the precious existence. And we, too. They think us the precious existence, too. The 8th of May is the 'Parents' Day'. When the day, most child are give an carnations for their parents. So before the day, Many children make an carnations at school. Me, too. So Many people call May, 'Family's month'. Because May has 'Childrens' Day', 'Parents' Day', 'Teachers' Day'. So I like May.

Why parents is precious? The 1st reason is they bear us. And 2nd is they make much of us. And 3rd, They're love us. Then, We need to love them !! Anyway, I think parents is 'PRECIOUS PEOPLE'.

Topic: Favorite Books

Seung Ho:

The book that I introduce is “Who moved my cheese?" At first, I read the book that mom recommended. Mice found a cheese factory while they were looking around for cheese. and then they were getting lazy. One day the cheese disappeared because the factory was bankrupt.

A, B mouse went to look for cheese again.

A, B mouse were eating cheese to find.

C, D mouse waited for cheese to come back

In the end, C,D mouse went to find cheese because D mouse tell C mouse we should go to find cheese. I think this book is very good. Thank you.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Musangsa Temple Stay

I hear the faint sound of a wooden stick striking a hollow wooden gourd. I roll over. It's 3am. That would be the moktok. Time to bow...108 times to be exact. It's a temple stay, and man, I wouldn't have it any other way.

My friend Eric sent me a message on Facebook about doing this weeks ago. Staying overnight at a temple and getting a sense for the lifestyle of Buddhist monks sounded like a cool contemplative experience. I've long held a curiosity for Buddhism and began to learn about it from Mr. Lee, but never got around to going through with a stay. With less than a month left, the now-or-never syndrome is in full effect.

Early on a Saturday morning, we hopped the KTX to Daejeon. I found myself having flashbacks to Christmas 2009. We took a city bus from the train and ended up in small suburb where we took a taxi and made it to Musangsa.

If you're wondering how a group of wae-gook-eens can fall in with Korean monks, I should mention that Musangsa is a actually a special international temple, and most of the monks are either European or American, not Korean. They have a real nifty website that you can view here.

The first order of business after arrival: dress to look the part. Traditional Buddhists robes are definitely meant for comfort, given that meditation sessions can last for hours on end, but I found them to be loose to a point of clumsiness. More on that later.

We soon had an orientation with the rest of our group, close to 15 other foreigners in total. Sitting on floor mat cushions crossed legged, we listened to a monk give an introduction and overview of meditation. It was funny to listen to him speak, because he had that cheeky zen master way of slipping jokes in around deep spiritual questions and I struggled to place his accent. He demonstrated the correct form for sitting zen: either crossed-legged or knees bent with your legs underneath you. For those that couldn't handle either position for extended periods of time he shouted:


But as you can well imagine, the way he spoke about the chair kind of discouraged further inquiry.

After a short break, we reconvened in the meditation hall (above). The temple complex was relatively small, composed of three buildings: the sleeping quarters/dining building, meditation hall/monks quarters, and the main Buddha hall.

By mid-afternoon and I was starting to drag. I hadn't slept well the night before and got up early. As I made my way to the hall, I tried to tune into the zen going on around me.

When I walked into our first meditation session, I sat on the wrong end (with the women, it was separated by sex). I was then made to sit between the two pros that scrutinized my form. Turned out I was able to sit right in neither of the postures, but before we could correct this (no way was I asking about the chair), three stiff strikes of a stick to the floor meant the start of twenty silent motionless minutes of sitting zen meditation.

Around five minutes in, I started to sweat from discomfort. I could feel my legs were already completely asleep. I closed my eyes had to will my way to the end of the session. Sitting there in my baggy robes, I did my best to focus. The power of meditation begins only once you push all thoughts out of your mind and channel your energies toward intense concentration upon nothing. That's right, nothing. Not a thing. If you're thinking about something, you're doing it wrong. I happened to be thinking about how poor my form was, and I had my tingling legs to remind me. Deep breaths.

When we stood up, I almost toppled completely back to the ground. We did walking meditation weaving loops around the hall, and it felt like I was swinging a couple of dense Sunday hams that were attached just below the knee. I couldn't feel my feet all at.

We had a coffee and tea break afterward and by the time I felt blood returning to my toes, it was time for our Dharma talk. A Dharma talk is an open lecture and discussion with a zen master. It raised more questions than answers, but I was particularly interested to hear the visiting master, because he made frequent references to Master Seung Sahn. You may remember Seung Sunim from the book Mr. Lee gave me. The temple followed his "know-nothing" school of Korean Buddhism and there was an elaborate shrine to his memory in their Buddha Hall.

We ate dinner in complete silence, seated cross-legged on the floor (I dealt better), again separated by sex. I made sure not to take a scrap more than I could eat. Monks rinse their bowls with warm water and drink it to get every last bit of sauce or food left. Welcome to the clean plate club.

Later that evening we wandered up to the main Buddha hall for chanting - a disorienting, beautiful, and mesmerizing experience. Buddhist chanting follows a complicated routine of specifically numbered and timed bows, sing-chanting, and in general, just following the flow. If you care to have a listen, this is one of the chant performed that we were encouraged to join: Kwan Seum Bosal

For me, the most confusing aspect of the whole weekend was that we weren't supposed to talk, so we couldn't really ask questions; it was monkey-see, monkey-do for tips on the finer points of practice. I felt like I was doing everything wrong, and I was half giving myself pep talks and apologizing to Buddha as I tripped over my baggy robes trying to keep up. It became increasingly obvious I wasn't alone, and the monks really didn't seem to mind as long as we at least tried. I really admired their openness and positive encouragement.

Before we knew it, it was bedtime, around 8:45PM. Why so early? I guess I already gave it away.

Every day at t
he temple starts at 3:00AM. Awoken by the sound of the moktok, the monks make their way up to the meditation hall for 108 bows to Buddha. Why 108? I wondered myself, and then did the research:

We have 6 doors of perception: sight, sound, smell, touch, taste and thought.
There are 3 aspects of time: past, present, and future.
There are 2 conditions of the heart/mind: pure or impure.
There are 3 possible attitudes: like, dislike, and indifference.

Korean Buddhists use this formula 6 x 3 x 2 x 3 = 108. Thus, 108 bows to "cut through our Karma."

These aren't little bows we're talking about. It starts from full standing position, dropping to your knees, lowering your hands down in front of you to the ground and then your forehead to the ground, then returning back to a standing position with a reverse of those movements. At the pace we did them, it took some fitness and I admit I was sweating by the end. It was made no easier by the fact we began at 3:25AM.

After the bows, it was morning chanting, more meditation and then breakfast. My legs fell asleep again, but I think I dealt with it better this time. After breakfast, the day was very relaxed. We took a hike around the misty mountain and pretty much had the rest of the morning to ourselves.
We had time to reflect, take some pictures, and take a much needed nap.
Flat Adam on a lantern in front of the meditation hall and again in front of the Buddha hall. My cousin sent me his Flat Stanley recently, for those not familiar with the project, check it out here: http://www.flatstanley.com/
The Buddha Hall in full perspective. Note the dragons coming out of the hall - they were actually not just heads - their torso and tails extended inside. I haven't seen this in a temple before.
May the zen peace be with you.