The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee provided me with another excuse to
force encourage my Korean middle school students to learn more about the UK because, let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to talk this wonderful nation more? It’s that good. As usual whenever I teach a cultural class and push any serious English study aside for the week the students got excited. They stopped playing with their hair/looking in their hand held mirrors/doodling about their deep, deep love for the latest K-Pop singer on the desks and moved their eyes towards the TV. Their faces alternated between sheer bafflement and downright amusement as I showed them pictures of Britain’s finest, The Royal Family. Prince Phillip’s mug caused a riot, partly because he’s ninety years old and old people are hilarious to young Korean teenagers and partly because, and I quote, ‘He looks like a crazy man.’ These kids are pretty switched on. This process continued as I showed them some footage of the Jubilee celebrations in London, priceless observations poured out such as, ‘Those people have red faces, all people, maybe drunken,’ at photos of street parties and ‘Royal people look so sad and ugly?’ at the flotilla.
Mostly though, they were interested in the events and the people. It’s different, they liked seeing another culture and learning about the lives of the ‘chosen ones.’ One particular photo caught their attention more than the rest because of my commentary. Here it is.
I told my students that the Queen really likes Corgis and she has a lot of them. Some students gasped, a couple laughed, some looked very confused and one student even stood up to protest at how disgusting she thought the Queen was. It only got worse, students started asking me why people judged Korea so harshly for liking dog Corgi when the Queen of England herself liked Corgi so much. I was starting to get fairly confused myself, and then it clicked, they hadn’t heard ‘Corgi,’ they had heard ‘고기’ (kogi) which is Korean for meat. I had essentially told them that Queen Elizabeth II eats dog meat and wasn’t it just splendid that she did. Once it was all cleared up and clarified that the Queen does not eat her Corgis, they lost interest and went back to doing whatever it is teenage girls do when they think you’re boring and they can’t be bothered to listen anymore. For them, the UK’s culture had lost it’s edge.