Sunday, September 03, 2006


As I mentioned last week but never posted about, last Sunday I went to visit James' school, Hanil Boys High School, for their school festival. It was the first time I had seen another American since arriving in Gongju and it was great to hang out with him and get to speak English in person and talk and talk and talk about our experiences. His school is really an amazing place--the students and teachers speak English incredibly fluidly and well. It was a cute little school fair, with lots of little carnival games and food for sale (the best game was by far a full-sized version of that arcade game where you bop little moles on the head with a mallet as they poke their heads out of holes...with helmet-wearing students in a big wooden box instead of mechanical moles. The things they come up with). James really impressed his students by doing really well at a balloon-popping darts game. Since we couldn't read any of the Korean signs, the two of us mainly just wandered around for a while and then entered a random auditorium. On the stage was a Hanil boy dressed like a nun, sitting in front of some nicely painted scenery of a large barn, singing a Korean love ballad. It was some sort of play that revolved around a group of dancing, singing boys dressed as nuns, and a suited singing boy who played a bunch of tricks on some boys dressed in drag. Boys dressing in drag is very big here--it's on TV all the time, and was a big part of the Korean Key Club outing at Kangwon Dae Hakkyo.
After the play, we went to a Trigger, the Hanil high school rap group, performance. The group is pretty huge, but they split up into different groups to perform different songs. Some of them were really talented and some of them were just really funny. My two favorites were a giant guy in a pink shirt and pink baseball hat and a little guy with glasses and dueling plaids (shirt and vest) who took himself extremely seriously but didn't have a strong grasp of the whole rhythm thing. There was also one kid who did some amazing beat boxing. The group was verrrry popular with the Korean students. Here's a picture of James during one of their songs. Here's one of me in front of the whole group. You can see pinky--he's just about to the middle. The guy to the right of him is not dueling plaid...he's just the beat boxer one who also happened to be wearing a plaid vest.

Hanil is an all-boys boarding school, and for the festival, high school girls from Cheonan and Gongju are bussed it's by far one of the boys' biggest events of the year and they go all out. In addition to Trigger, there was also a big dance group and two rock bands. The dancers were amazing, and the rock bands were loud. It's really impressive that these boys have time for all this dance and music considering how many hours they spend studying. One of the biggest highlights of the day came after the boy rock bands. A group of girls, wearing little white and red school uniforms and covering their faces in true Korean style came out on the stage. The singer had on a little red headband. I leaned over to James and said, "wouldn't it be amazing if they were a punk rock group or something?" And they totally were. They actually a really good Korean high school girls' punk rock group.

The last performance of the day was (what else?) a lengthy drag show. The boys in the drag show talked in high voices, pranced around, danced provocatively with each other, and fake made out. The two boys wearing suits fake made out nearly to the point of really making out. I can't imagine anything like this ever happening in an American high school.

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