Lost Your ARC While Abroad? Don’t Panic!

Oh, you went on vacation recently, too? Cool!

What’s that? You also had your wallet, holding your precious Alien Registration Card, stolen by your scumbag taxi driver 45 minutes after landing in Shanghai, resulting in an almost ruined vacation and a Cambodian jail cell? Strange how commonplace that is! In Shanghai, of all places!

tumblr_m722i2jG7F1r2gis6….

I have a lot of irrational hate for China I’m trying to work my way through right now, y’all.

That, however, is a story for a different time.

So you lost your ARC while outside of Korea. What happens next? Can you get back into the country with no ARC and, let’s say, only a passport with an (expired) visa as proof that you are legally allowed to be in Korea?

Good news: Turns out, yes! You might even be able to speed up the Incheon airport immigration check this way! (I would not recommend losing your ARC just to get through the line quicker.)

After my wallet, ARC inside, was stolen, all I wanted in life was to be safely back home in Daejeon, curled up in bed, rather than traipsing around Cambodia, discovering love at first sight and eating curry. Unfortunately, it was almost two weeks before I had the answer to the three questions constantly eating away at my good time:

1. Can I even leave Cambodia without my ARC? Will they even let me on the plane?

2. Will I get stuck at immigration in Incheon airport?

3. How do I replace my ARC?

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“Whatcha Got There?” Featuring Elementary Students: Episode One

“Liz-teacher! See this?”

Jaejoong was at the front of a rogue gaggle of 6th graders, walking towards me and thrusting a paper shopping bag in my direction as I reached the top of the stairs. I eyed him warily.

“Jaejoong, school ended at lunch time. What are you all doing here?”

Jaejoong ignored my question, leaving me with only the growing suspicion that somewhere in the school, somehow, something important was broken.

“Liz-teacher, see?” He continued to hold the bag in front of him as an offering. Jaejoong, however, was a 6th grader. A graduating 6th grader, at that. In three days, Jaejoong would be forever free from the halls of elementary school and begin afresh as a middle school student, far out of my reach. In effect, Jaejoong was invincible…and an untrustworthy, tricksy little 13 year old shithead.

Therefore, I really, really, really didn’t want to know what was in the bag.

“I see it,” I replied, scanning the crowd around him. He had a backup gang, five 6th graders strong.

Yunho. Noted for starting a school-wide dance craze akin to Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man, stealing seven bicycles from his apartment complex, and exposing a 4th grade autistic student to porn. Can’t read English. Trust level: Generally benevolent, unless he wants your bicycle.

Taehyeon. Noted for being class president, and skipping school to go buy cigarettes. Excellent at English, even better at trolling her teachers. Currently grinning maniacally. Not to be trusted.

Changmin. Noted for having a textbook that looks like it’s been set on fire, getting terrible perms that every boy down to 3rd grade immediately copies, and refusing to speak English to the foreign teacher because he thinks she speaks Korean. Decent at English, or at least he was in the 5th grade before he decided to stop speaking it to me. Trustworthiness dependent upon the presence of females and how cool he wants to look at that moment.

Soohyun. Noted for quietly being the most amazing student in the school, going to Cambodia to help her parents teach orphans, and pretty much just being wonderful always. Almost fluent at English. Trust level: Like, combine Jesus, Ghandi, Pinocchio, and the sweetest of kittens.

Junsu. Noted for growing sweet potatoes in the school garden, screaming expletives at teachers as he walks by, and throwing a recorder case at my co-teacher’s head. Great English, despite never having a book and sleeping through class. Not to be trusted.

I looked back to Jaejoong, who was waiting expectantly.

“Okay, what is it?” What the hell, I’m a curious person.

He beamed, and opened the bag. I hesitated for what was probably only a fraction of a moment, but it felt like the longest of lifetimes as I flew through the five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally the acceptance of my impending doom, for I was sure I had just stepped into a horrible trap.

I took what I suspected would be my last breath, and looked inside the bag.

“It’s a parrot!” Jaejoong exclaimed.

Oh hai there, do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior?

Oh hai there, do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior?

Indeed it was, I realized as I stared down at the small bird calmly hanging out at the bottom of the Uniqlo bag.

I glanced back at the smiling group, then at Jaejoong again, blinking.

“Is it…..your parrot?” I asked slowly.

Jaejoong shook his head emphatically. Oh God, they’ve stolen a bird from somewhere.

“It’s Yunho’s!” He merrily pointed at the smaller boy, who smiled the proud smile of a parrot’s parent.

I shook my head, filled with regret for not trusting the adorable little scamps. How could I be so filled with suspicion? What kind of world do we live in where a teacher must even question the most innocent of the human race, the children whom she’s been entrusted with the care and safety of? What, even, is life?

“Yunho, it’s so cute,” I said as I smiled warmly at the sweet little porn-watching thief, “What’s its name?”

This was translated by Soohyun to Yunho, who suddenly looked nervous and stuttered back to her in Korean. As the group began to move past me, chattering with sneakers in hand, colorful bird in bag, Soohyun looked at me a smidge morosely, and told me Yunho didn’t remember his bird’s name. A moment later, they were gone from my sight, and I was alone and looking like this:

tumblr_lx5q7bORYk1qb7xbg

TL;DR: Ya’ll, I’m pretty sure one or five of my students just stole a parrot.

*names have been changed to protect the probably guilty, and yeah, my students are DBSK members now because I do what I want.

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My Date With Block B, and, I Guess, 5000 Other People: Part 2

Where was I? Ah, yes. Fighting for my life and the right to touch Zico’s hand (this one) in the pit in front of the stage.

My friend who was in the seated section overlooking the pit would later describe the scene as, “You know, like, in The Lion King when the hyenas cause that wildebeest stampede in the gorge and Simba is clinging to the tree branch for life while Mufasa looks down in horror? Like that.”

Except, in this analogy, the wildebeest are the fans, I am Simba, and Taeil (the hat guy) is Mufasa.

Okay, it wasn’t really so bad. It was so crowded, it was virtually impossible to get knocked to the ground. Really, it was as though we were all connected to each other, bits of cytoplasm moving as one amoebic cell, while secretly wishing the bitch in front would just die already so we could move closer to the nucleus that is Block B.

Why yes, I did just compare these seven Korean men to a basic necessity for biological survival. I do enjoy hyperbole, don’t you?

Anyway. The whole concert was a highly entertaining ball of fun, but in the effort of not having to summarize a three hour sexy-fest, I think, instead, I will only touch on two aspects of this experience that stood out to me the most. I would like to offer unto you a brief discussion of two solo performances during the concert, but for reasons mostly having nothing to do with the quality of the performances themselves.

Now, before I begin to casually poke fun at these guys, I would like to emphasize that, although my joking is in the context of the Block B concert, the source of my well-intentioned ridicule is essentially at the K-Pop industry itself, rather than this particular group or any of its members. They are simply a product of their working environment, and since five minutes of research is enough to give a glimpse of how heavily manufactured and formulaic the Korean pop industry is, it is certainly not my place to pass judgment on any of the artists working within. Even if they do things like this.

Ladies and gents, prepare thyselves for an exploration into the strange, yet highly entertaining world of K-Pop nonsense.

First: Ulzzangs

Around the halfway mark of the concert, Jaehyo (this one) performed a solo acoustic ballad, accompanied by a single, morose piano. I found this a touch odd, as Jaehyo is not known for his vocal ability….or rap ability….or dancing ability…but rather for being an ulzzang. What’s an ulzzang, you ask? Oh, I’m so excited to tell you what an ulzzang is. The word “ulzzang” in Korean literally means “best face”. An ulzzang is, in Korea, a professional selfie taker. To be a famous ulzzang in Korea is to be someone known for nothing more than being good looking and posting photographs of themselves on the internet. That’s right, folks, in Korea, your selfie ability can make you famous.

And it did, for one darling Ahn Jaehyo. His chief qualifications for being a member of Block B? Placing first on an MNET reality show called “Pretty Boys” and being a member of something called the “Bestnine School Ulzzang”. My research on the specifics behind the last one was inconclusive, but simply based upon the title, I hope you get my point.

Fortunately, he’s not a bad singer. Therefore, those three and a half minutes of my life were not so much horrifying for me to witness as they were reasonably pleasing to my ears and, very much, to my eyes. They were, apparently, horrifying for our dear Jaehyo, as it turns out that the backup band had made a ‘whoopsie’, and his performance was not, in fact, supposed to be only accompanied by a single, morose piano. Poor kid.

Last: Turnt Cookies

I am most excited to talk about this one. You see, although K-Pop groups typically release songs as a unit, on occasion one member will branch off and send a solo song, lonesome and bashful, into the universe. In the most recent case for Block B, it was the main rapper, Zico (this one), who took on a side project.

Now, after Zico debuted with Block B, he became associated with image concepts such as this, this….and this…..this…..this….and, oh hell, this, too.

K-Pop image concepts, man.

Before all that, though, he garnered a reputation as a pretty decent underground rapper. His image was different then. Swag. Streetwise. Hardcore. An affinity for sweets, particularly of the ‘cookie’ variety. Unafraid to take on the controversial issues. Don’t take nothin’ from nobody. One might even say, Zico was ‘tough’.

Dear, scarce readers, I present to you Zico’s single, “Tough Cookie“.

I showed my brother this video. May I present the final moment of the reaction video he sent me from the States:

Dramatic representation by one Stephen Colbert, as I'm not sure my brother wants his image plastered on the Internet.

Dramatic representation by one Stephen Colbert, as I’m not sure my brother wants his image plastered on the Internet.

First, dear reader, I implore you to watch the music video, for which Zico received a significant amount of backlash for his inclusion of the word “faggot” and culturally appropriating hip-hop style while simultaneously wearing a confederate flag on his sleeve, but not nearly enough appreciation for his ability to eat chocolate chip cookies with a grill the size of Seoul.

Finished? Great.

Now, Zico performed this single about making other rappers piss themselves with his raw talent at this concert open to ages 8 and up, and I was lucky enough to bear witness to it.

Allow me to take you on a visual journey, if I may.

Picture Zico, this man, in all of his grilled glory, hopping about the stage as he spits sweet rhymes about how his “frequency invades your erogenous zones”. That’s all well and good, but it’s really the animation behind him, on the giant screen display, that places the cherry atop this magnificent cookie sundae.

Imagine, if you will, Cookie Monster.

Now, imagine Cookie Monster blown up to the size of, I don’t know, Donald Trump’s ego.

Next, add the following:

- Grill
-Gold chains
-One pistol for each fuzzy blue hand

Now that you know Cookie Monster’s true form, picture him, chains shaking as he fires round after round into the air, in cadence to Zico’s sick flow, while grinning maniacally through his diamond-encrusted grill as dollar signs float through the air around him.

Y’all. I have scoured the internet for evidence of this. I have Googled. I have Tumbled. Navered. Daumed. Youtubed. Twittered. And I have come away fruitless and with the assumption that the gods above have decided that this was a gift so glorious, so marvelous, so….tough, that only the selected thousands attending the concert should bear witness to it. I can only hope that I have given you an adequate approximation of the wondrous sight I was privileged enough to behold.

Final Thoughts?

Overall, 10/10 would repeat. K-Pop concerts are fun, cheesy times when it’s okay to ‘squee’ over your bias and nobody will judge you for it…except, of course, your friends who are also at the concert but think your bias is stupid.

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Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Battle Begins

The war began between 2nd and 3rd period on Friday. Grade 3 day.

I stood quietly beside the blackboard as my 3-3 class filed in, scattering to have chicken fights, hide behind the air conditioning unit, and squeeze themselves between and under the shelves for the next seven minutes until the bell rang, signifying the end of their freedom to express their creativity via body contortions.

On the surface, it was just another ordinary day in 3-3. It was barely noticeable, and at first I could not readily identify the cause of my prickling skin. Somehow, on this particular Friday morning, the atmosphere was…different. Tense. Restless.

Then I heard it. To my immediate right, a small voice spoke.

“Liz teacher…”

I turned to face Saeho. His tiny fist was raised, elbow locked and ready. I understood and silently nodded my acknowledgment of his challenge, and raised my fist as well.

“Rock…..”

A few eyes drifted in our direction.

“Scissors….”

A hush had fallen over the room. A ragged, anticipatory breath escaped Youngwook’s lips, who was immediately nudged by Sohyeon into silence.

“PAPER!”

I opened my eyes, not even realizing I had closed them in the vital moment. I glanced at my fist, squeezed firmly into a rock shape.

Saeho’s weapon of choice: Paper.

I had known defeat like this before. It didn’t make it any easier as I hung my head in shame and Saeho bounced away the victor.

Little did I know, that was only the beginning.

The others, spurred into confidence by my apparent tactical vulnerability, quickly descended upon me. I was surrounded.

I took a deep breath. I couldn’t surrender this way. I felt as Leonidas facing the Persian army: desperate and probably a bit underdressed for class. Gathering my strength, I raised my fist skyward and declared:

“THIS. IS. THE ENGLISH ROOM!”

The battle commenced. I was determined not to go down again.

Sohyeon was the first to fall victim to my ruthlessness, followed by Jiwon. Kwan Kyeongmin and Jeon Kyeongmin met similar fates, rolling away with their defeated hands tucked securely against their stomachs. Gaspy Youngwook accepted his loss with grace, chin only quivering slightly as he turned and stepped away from the blackboard, silently taking a seat at his desk.

Sure, I took a hit every now and then. Pride, however, got the better of the victors as they came back again, as though begging for failure, and one by one they fell.

The most tragic victim, perhaps, was Eunsol.

She had wanted nothing more in life than to rise to the top of the RPS masters. Since she had experienced the rush of her first Scissors victory at the tender age of 6, the game had encompassed her entire being. She slunk away with a visible sob, contemplating her future career as an accountant or something because what was the point anymore.

At one point, I took a chance and glanced back toward the desk, where I had last seen my coteacher. I was worried she might be lost in the war. She was, in fact, texting.

Finally, after an agonizing four minutes, the bloodbath seemed to dwindle towards its end. Children lay in heaps everywhere, whimpering.

Then Saeho reappeared.

He craned his neck upward to look me in the eyes. Maintaining eye contact, he spit on the ground and wiped his mouth. The 10 year old spoke.

“You don’t really know who I am, do you?”

I looked at him, out of breath from the exertion. Sweat pooled on my forehead, dampening my bangs into a darker shade of red.

“You’re Saeho. You like puppies and the color green.”

He laughed and spit again.

“You see these children? They’re nothing. Mere specks of dust in the infinite universe that is this battle.”

Eunsol bristled, baring her teeth.

“Even Eunsol. She’s trained rigorously for years. Rock, scissors, paper is her life. But she doesn’t truly understand the game as I do.”

I raised my eyebrow. What could he mean?

He continued.

“To you, it’s just a game. But, for me….”

He paused only to take a deep breath.

“I was born into this. My blood is champion blood. My mother and father? An arranged marriage based upon their RPS strategic compatibilities.” He raised his hands, turning them over to admire them. “These fingers won their first battle before my mother bought my first sippy cup.”

A collective gasp rippled throughout the fallen, watching raptly from their desks.

Saeho’s gaze returned to mine.

“And so, I ask you, Liz teacher….shouldn’t you just admit defeat now?”

I snarled and raised my fist.

“Never.”

Saeho tensed, just for a moment, before regaining his composure and assuming the position.

“Alright, then.”

I took a deep breath. Though I’m not religious, I prayed for strength. It was now or never.

He began.

“Rock…”

I responded, barely above a whisper.

“Scissors….”

Suddenly, Beethoven’s “Für Elise” filled the room. The bell had sounded. Class was to begin.

Saeho straightened himself and flounced back to his seat at the front of the classroom. He smiled at me.

“Liz teacher, game today?!”

tumblr_inline_n1j0oj6QBp1rjrxqo

“Hello everyone…who can tell me about the weather today?”

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Creative English: Jinseong Edition

On my way to the English room, I just happened upon one of my 5th grade classes in the hallway, huddled together around something that was invisible to me. Curious and, because they are 5th graders, more than a little suspicious and concerned, I approached the mass of 12 year olds clutching their recorders.

At the center of the circle I found Jinseong, one of the lowest level students in the class, on the floor, unrolling himself from the fetal position, his recorder sad and abandoned on the floor beside him.

Some boys in the class shouted at me in Korean, pointing to one of the girls in the class. Some girls in the class were shouting “No!” and waving their hands frantically in response. One Liz-teacher was very, very confused and regretting her decision to intervene.

Meanwhile, Jinseong slowly picked himself up off the floor, staggered a bit, and picked up his recorder. He broke from the crowd and raised the recorder above his head as though it were Excalibur and he, King Arthur. Looking me dead in the eye, he shouted:

“Teacher! Hye Eun…..kicked….my…..sausage-ee!”

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My Date With Block B, and, I Guess, 5000 Other People

Gods, rejoice.

Ye angels, sing on thy majestic tune.

For I, Liz, have rightfully attended my first K-Pop concert.

Now, before I write this post, I would like to say yes, I am fully aware that out of my followers, perhaps only two or three are actually interested in this particular subject, and with this knowledge, I would like to offer the following rebuttal to you haters:
5ce

 

To the two or three of you that know the K-Pop struggle: OMFGITWASAMAZINGISELFACTUALIZEDIDONTEVENKNOWIFEELSOALLCAPSABOUTIT.

Anyway. I suppose I should offer some context to this particular fangirl session.

On November 22nd, the idol group Block B performed their Remastering full-length concert in Seoul. Because there are seven members in this group (still a rather unimpressive quantity in the K-Pop industry), I made this handy chart to help you keep track of the beautiful men I’m referring to:

 

They probably do not know how to play any of these instruments.

Why yes, that man in the middle is dressed as a colonial schoolboy, and no, they probably can’t play those instruments.

 

According to this website, Taeil’s hobby is collecting hats and raising tropical fish. There’s no reason for me to tell you this other than the fact that his hobbies include collecting hats and raising tropical fish.

To be honest, although I was quite excited to see Taeil’s hat collection in real life, I went to the concert arena not particularly expecting much in terms of their performance.

WAIT!

Before I receive a slew of comments from Block B fans extrapolating on their deep-rooted, passionately burning desire for me to get hit by a bus, allow me to explain.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in my brief time on this earth. Many live performances were awe-inspiring and I left feeling as though was somehow spiritually empowered by some deity through the wonderful music I had the privilege of witnessing (such as this).

Unfortunately, though, there is also often a very distinguishable difference between an artist’s studio performance and their live performance, and not in a good way.

To keep my examples within the pop music realm, One Direction live? Still good. Katy Perry? Questionable.

To add to this game of chance, the K-Pop industry often focuses much more heavily on the visual than the vocal aspects of the music they produce.  That being said,  I walked into the Block B concert expecting to be Perry-ed vocally while satiated with wonderful eye candy. I mean, I’ve been to a Backstreet Boys concert. I know how this works.

The verdict is in, and: I will forever regret doubting the talents of my 7 husbands.

Here’s the story:

We arrived at the metro station in Seoul outside the venue around 2 P.M, theoretically ample time to use the restroom, buy everything with U-Kwon, Zico, and B-Bomb’s (this one, this one, and this one) faces on it, get in line, and mentally prepare ourselves to battle 5,000 other girls for the right to touch P.O.’s (this one) hand.

Exiting the subway, after we (read: I) had consumed approximately 834 cups of coffee, we searched for the bathroom. Upon finding it, we saw a line with around 10 girls waiting in line for an open stall. Screw this, we said. We can just use the bathrooms at the stadium, we said. It’s still early, we said.

Friends: If you ever find yourself having that thought process prior to a K-Pop concert, immediately get ye to a mental health facility, because you have clearly gone insane.

Wait time to pick up our tickets: Miniscule.

Wait time to select and pick up hoodies and oversized post cards, emblazoned with photos of the boys dressed as movie villains with faces somehow both devilishly mischievous and titillatingly evil, simultaneously maintaining their quirky charm while tortured with guilt over the fact that they chose the lonely life of the sexy lawless villain: Nonexistent.

Also, this lolli is delicious.

“Also, this evil rainbow lollipop is delicious.”

Wait time to use the bathroom at the stadium temporarily home to around 5000 Block B fans, 4982 of whom are female: It would have probably taken us less time to get back on the subway, enroll in medical school, graduate, self-implant a urinary catheter, aLnd take a taxi back to the stadium.

Somehow, we made it through the bathroom line before reaching retirement age. It was time to split up and get in another line to be allowed into the stadium.

Since this posting is already an embarrassingly long one, and I haven’t even reached the pistol-whipping, bling-adorned gangsta Cookie Monster flashing his grill while making it rain dolla dolla bills, let’s make this a two-part series, shall we?

Until then, I give you this:

Zico and his ostrichIn this moment, Husband #1 (this one) is shouting the following at his ostrich:
I wanna hug and kisses.”

 

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Tales From the 5th Grade Bucket Lists

Yesterday, my 5th grade students made bucket lists, consisting of three things they would like to do with their classmates before they become 6th graders.

Results:

-“I want to go to the bathroom with my friends.”
-“I want to kill Kim Namjin with my friends.” (Namjin is a 6th grader.)
-“I want to break the school with my friends.”-“I want to sleep with my friends.”
–“I want to die with my friends.” (Well, that’s sweet.)
-“I want to get a girlfriend with my friends.”
-“I want to marry B1A4 with my friends.”
-“I want to fight with my friends.”

and my personal favorite,

-“I want to blow up the school with dynamite with my friends.” (I had to help with this one.)

tumblr_lu1xnnJctT1r0p8zc“No, Hyeon, I don’t know where to buy boom boom sticks.”

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