Well, it has been an odd and stressful week in Yangsan, Gyeongsangnam-do. We’ve been busy and there has been some drama as well.
It all began last Friday. The other foreign teacher is an alcoholic. Or perhaps he’s content viewing the world through booze tinted glasses. I really can’t say. We had a company dinner on Friday. Given that when he’s drunk, he gets really rude and insulting, the decision was made to have the dinner without his knowledge. Therefore, after he went home for the day, we closed up and went to the restaurant where we dined on some delicious sashimi. I feel bad he couldn’t come too. But owing to his behaviour, it’s impossible.
On Tuesday morning, the boss, the other foreign teacher with alcohol problems, and I had to go to Changwon. The Changwon Board of Education has these regular seminars which we are required to go to. They are quite boring, but it’s better than my employer getting fined. I was really shocked to notice alcohol on his breath, as we left at 9 in the morning. So he drinks in the morning as well.
The scandals involving the Pennsylvania State University football team are now well known here. KBS has picked up the story. Given that the issue of sexual abuse is now becoming more of an issue in Korea, KBS and MBC found it newsworthy. There is widespread public sentiment in favour of harsher penalties for sexual abuse of minors. At present, South Korea’s own laws are quite weak in comparison to those of the USA. I don’t care for football at all. So I had no idea who Jerry Sandusky is. Now we all know, I suppose.
On Thursday we had a teachers’ meeting in which the other foreign teacher, who is our resident problem, badly insulted the second in command of the school. It made me really angry. When I went home afterwards, I was positively seething. I was also upset that once again, I have to do his work for him.
Something terrible must have happened to him at some point. He has less maturity than my class of 12 year-old boys. He’s older than me, but he doesn’t know or care how his behaviour offends people. He has no friends, really. His various insults to me when he’s drunk, which is just about every evening, have cost him my friendship. He’s no longer in my good graces. But he lost it pretty much close to the beginning of my time here. I saw his as the embodiment of pretty much everything I despise about foreigners in Korea.
On Friday, I finally confronted him. Enough is enough. I really like the Korean teachers and I know they have been really patient. The school may well fire him. I certainly hope so. He should not be around children if he’s going to show up drunk. Anyhow, I really let him have it. I’m not the sort of person who likes having conflicts. But someone needed to say it. And so I have. Thankfully, I have the support of the administration.
I am not really comfortable with public dislays of emotion. In many ways, I think I was born in the wrong country. When I saw the 60 Minutes piece on Finland some years ago (“Tango Finlandia”), I felt that Finland was my true home! I know I’m over-generalizing, but Finns are often quite shy and really don’t display much emotion in public. Things may be changing there, but the old Finnish character is something which I can identify with.