Do you think like a Korean student? Take the quiz.

Yesterday, I played a game with a few of my middle school classes. It was a basic Taboo or Hot Seat style game, where one person comes up to the front and doesn’t look at the TV. A word and picture come on the screen and the others on their team have to describe it without saying the word or using any Korean.

It was amazing some of the ways they came up with to describe things using their limited vocabulary. Some were fairly obvious, like “Justin ____” for the word “beaver”, since Koreans pronounce “Bieber” and “beaver” the same. For others, they used Korean as a base, like “rock whale” for dolphin, since the Korean word for dolphin literally means “rock whale” (although I’m pretty sure the rock part of that is just a homophone for something else). Also, for the word “pear”, they pointed to their stomachs, since the word for stomach and pear are the same in Korean (not that anyone guessed correctly using that clue. They usually just passed on that one.)

And then there were some others. Take the quiz and see if you can guess the answers based on the clues that they gave (and which their friends used to guess the word correctly.) The answers are at the end.

Quiz

1. “firefighter’s friend”

2. “chicken changed”

3. “Edison” (plus pointing up)

4. “Pizza’s friend”

5. “white water”

6. “small round cake”

7. “bird king”

8. “lion’s friend”

9. “Korean number 1 food”

10. “Made in _______”

 

How many could you guess? Scroll down to see how you did.

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Answers:

1. “police officer” (They tend to link these two jobs.)

2. “kitchen” (Korean students always mix these two words up, so they see them as related.)

3. “light”

4. “chicken” or “pickles” (This had two, since they closely relate pizza and chicken, but also when you order pizza here, pickles always come with them as a side dish, even with delivery.)

5. “milk”

6 “muffin”

7. “eagle”

8. “tiger”

9. “kimchi”

10. “China” (even in Korea, a lot of things are manufactured in China, so they are used to seeing Made in China.)

quiz


The Birth of History – Friday Fictioneers

copyright Douglas M. MacIlroy

 

The Birth of History

Hector’s breath hissed through the ventilator and he surveyed the delivery room through the windows of his mask. All outside sounds were muffled, including the wail of his newborn son, lying in its mother’s arms.

“The doctor says all is well,” she said. “He can breathe normally.”

Hector nodded. “I wish I could touch him.”

“At home. The atmosphere is optimized for all three of us there.”

“Do you think he will be alright?”

His wife took his gloved hand. “He will be celebrated. The first offspring between a Terran and a Venusian is a cause for joy, not shame.”


Exploring a Haunted School

This is a true story. As you probably know by now, my wife and I like to explore abandoned buildings at night, especially ones reported to be haunted. We don’t really expect to see anything, but we keep our eyes open.

Not my picture, but the view as we climbed up the slope to the school.

Not my picture, but the view as we climbed up the slope to the school.

Chungil 2

Last Friday night, we went to the Chung-il Girl’s High School, in Daejeon, South Korea, which was closed in 2006. It’s reportedly haunted and I’ve seen some pretty shaky evidence, but it is a huge structure: 5 stories plus the basement, holding 3000 students at its height. We went after work on Friday and got to the school about 9pm. There were spray-painted signs on the entrance saying things like “Forbidden” and “You must not enter” but we did anyway (of course).

I didn't get great shots, since I only had my phone, but you get the idea.

I didn’t get great shots, since I only had my phone, but you get the idea.

The basement was cool, although not that big. It had a trench cut into the concrete floor with water running through it and you could hear the faint tinkle of dripping water. The light of the flashlight shown off the water and reflected on the walls, making a cool shifting pattern of reflections as I moved the light. I could see someone getting freaked out if they were by themselves down there, and their light suddenly went out, and the rusted metal pipes that blocked the basement from the next section started to creak, ever so slowly…

But none of that happened to us. The school was constructed in an L-shape and we walked the length of it and then up a floor and made our way slowly up the floors until we reached the roof. Most of the classrooms were empty, although a lot had graffiti on the walls.

This says "die". We are terrible at following instructions.

This says “die”. We are terrible at following instructions.

The most interesting rooms were the art and music rooms, since they had things left behind. In the art room was a stack of old drawings that I looked through a little.

20140411_21552820140411_215555

20140411_215712There was a lot written on the music room chalkboard. It kind of looks like a song, but the last line says something like “for impact, make the follow-through loud.” The funny thing is that three of the words are English, written in Korean letters, like “polo seuroo” (follow through).

In one room, we found the words “Absolutely don’t turn around” spray painted on the wall. There was nothing behind us though (that I could see).

충일여고 Exploration

We didn’t stay in there too long; no more than half an hour probably. We had missed the last bus back to our city by then so we grabbed a hotel nearby and stayed the night. We were thinking about sleeping in the school, just for the experience, but it was a bit cool and there was no bathroom (my wife’s objection). The hotel where we stayed was named the Lotto Hotel, and their thing was that they gave you a lottery ticket when you checked in. I didn’t check it to see if we won, since I didn’t know where to. Probably we had a better chance of seeing a ghost than winning the lottery that night.

20140411_214250

 


My Ancestors’ Cell Phone

The cell phone was the most important relic of the tribe. We did not know when it was originally made, but it had been passed down through the generations, each taking care of it, replacing its parts, memorizing and passing on its secrets.

cell phone

The current cell phone case had been made by my uncle, after the former case had been shattered in a moose hunt. He had melted down plastic and cast it in the precise dimensions. It was waterproofed with rubber seals in case it fell in the water or got wet. Each of us had our task in keeping it going. Mine was the batteries.

“I think we are going to need a new battery soon,” Hadrian told me. He was my cousin, in charge of maintaining and repairing the solar panels that charged our batteries. The current battery was getting less than an hour of use per charge.

“I will need to make a journey,” I said. “The necessary materials are far away.”

The next day, I set out, taking only my spear and a skin bag of food and tools I would need. It was a three-week walk to the mineral spring my grandfather had shown me, where the precious salts crusted along the outflow. I collected what I needed and then began the long process of heating and refining, then more refining. I took special rocks from my bag and crushed them, heating, mixing, siphoning, all in the precise order that I learned from my grandfather and that he learned from his father long ago: The Way of Making the Battery.

I stayed at the mineral spring for a week, preparing everything in sequence. It was exacting work, working with the fine tools my great-uncle had made, and working under a magnifying glass that had been hand ground generations before. When all was complete, I assembled the components in a battery case that my brother Yocub had made, and set off back to camp. My path crossed the lands of the Tensheein, and a band of their warriors stopped me, demanding tribute. I gave them some of my food, but when they learned why I was traveling, they let me go. Missions of teknoji were sacred.

When I got back, Hadrian and I tested the new battery, charging it with the solar panels. There was a small flaw inside it and it did not hold charge, so I had to take it apart and remake it. A week later, we tried again and this time the charge lasted up to eight hours: a very successful battery.

My father wanted to call a neighboring tribe with whom we hunted every fall, but the wind had died and he had to wait another day so that the wind could power the tower on the hill and transmit the signal. They talked for fifteen minutes, arranging to meet at Black Cross a week later.

That night, we sat around the fire, listening to my sister code. She had been creating an app that would pick out the locations of nearby animals by their calls. She had been working on it for almost a year, writing it on the phone itself on an application written by our great-great grandmother. As she worked, she sang the lines of code aloud, each of us listening, learning, checking her work.

campfire

The Song of the Code echoed in my head as we all lay down in the great tent for sleep. It was like us, I thought. Each line nothing in itself, but working together, each with its own purpose, it could make something great. Without my battery, the cell phone was nothing. Without the solar panels, or the case, or the microphone, or the delicate camera optics, the cell phone would not function as it should. Each part and person working in perfect unison.


What if…?

 

What if…?

Rick Forrest was driving the Number 45 bus, empty, back toward the garage when he saw a man waiting at a lonely bus stop on the opposite side. There were no more buses that day, so he slowed and slide open his window.

“Hey buddy, no more buses today!”

The man looked up. “I’m not waiting for that bus.”

“This is the only bus route out here,” Rick said. He was about to drive away, when the man stood up and took a step into the road.

“The bus will be here any moment. Do you want to take it too? There’s room.”

You’re crazy! was on the tip of Rick’s tongue, but something in the man’s intent look made him pause. “I have to finish my route.”

“Come on, there’s room. It’s worth it.”

Rick suddenly had an insane vision of himself parking the bus by the side of the road and getting out to wait with the man. Crazy. He stepped on the gas and drove off.

A dark red bus was approaching. He watched it in the rear view mirror as it stopped and the man got on. Then the bus vanished into thin air.

Rick finished his route and went home, but every single day for the rest of his life, the same question went through his head: What if I had gotten on that bus?

 


A slice of humanity on the bus

All writers should take the bus, at least every now and then. Or the subway. Really anywhere where you can observe a lot of different people up close. I take the bus almost every day and I see some interesting people.

Last Thursday, I was taking the bus out into the countryside to one of my four schools. I was sitting in the back when a mentally handicapped man and an older man got on and sat down next to me, the  handicapped one closer to me. He was interested in my book and pointed at it and gave me a thumbs up. Then he motioned to the older man and said, “He’s my dad.” This caused the older man to start laughing, so I didn’t know if he really was his father or not. I just said, “Oh, really?” “Oh, I see” and such things, since he kept saying it.

A lot of the people on the bus were older and seemed to know each other, so I felt like I was in kind of a community meeting. Then the handicapped man said, “He’s fifty” pointing to his “dad”, who started laughing even harder and said, “Yeah, I wish I were fifty again.” I really liked the older man; just a jolly sort of fellow.

A middle-aged woman came back, and saw there weren’t any seats left, so I gave her mine. Her husband was still standing up, with his backpack on. “Hey groom!” she yelled (Korean woman often call their husbands “groom”, although I’ve never heard a man call his wife “bride”). “Hey groom! It’s going to be a long ride. Take off your heavy backpack.” He took it off and put it on the floor with a grin. “That’s my groom for you,” she said. I saw other older women smiling and nodding as well. They understood.

The two men who were sitting next to me got off a few stops before me and the handicapped one gave me an awkward high-five. I smiled and said good bye. I went back and sat where they had been sitting and the woman I had given up my seat to apologized. I’m not sure why but possibly because she thought the handicapped man was bothering me. “Not a problem,” I said. “It’s okay.” And I meant it. I may never totally fit in here in Korea, but I do enjoy being a part of things anyway.

*

By the way, a few days ago, I posted something called The Mystery on the Bus, recounting another experience I had on a bus coming home from school. I asked people what they thought was going on. The first virtual high-five is for Carmelita, for the wackiest idea (I almost wish it were true), and the second is for EadesyBeadsy, for what I think is the most likely answer. Good job!

High five!

High five!


Homecoming – Friday Fictioneers

Copyright D Lovering

Copyright D Lovering

Homecoming

The whole town was there, standing in hushed anticipation for the return of Senor Najera’s son from the war.

“He was wounded,” someone whispered. “Hit by the enemy’s new weapon.”

The ship approached, the gangplank descended, and Mateo Najera appeared. The crowd gasped.

The rags of the once-proud army uniform were stretched over the misshapen, hulking figure that shambled off. One huge eye lolled at them, roaming witlessly.

Senora Najera tore from her husband’s restraint. “Stop!” he shouted. “What if he’s contagious?”

“He’s still my baby,” she said and ran to embrace him until her tears wet his festering skin.

 


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