I Live In Korea

My name is Ben Gwynne. I USED to teach English in Incheon, South Korea. Here's some photos, stories, videos, etc.

About 99.9% of the Korean students who study English have Korean names and English names (the only one who doesn’t at my school happens to be my favorite student and a faint reminder of myself). The second name is only used in their English class, and it’s to make it easier on the English teachers when speaking to the students, makes sense. Sometimes we get to give them names, sometimes the Korean teachers do and sometimes the kids give themselves the name, it's all chance (one that I haven't had yet!!!).

The names they get, their origins and what they morph into over time can be quite funny. Here are some students I have and the story about how they got their names…

Mario – he was named after Super Mario from the famous video game the Super Mario Brothers.

Luisi – Similar but not related, Luisi was originally named Luigi after Mario from the Super Mario Brothers. However, after a while the ‘g’ and ‘s’ kept getting written incorrectly by the Korean teacher, and his name turned into Luisi. Hysterical.

Primo – I have no idea how he got this name. He’s new and I didn’t name him nor did my coworker so that means he came into the school with the name. Pretty cool though.

Hestia – In Greek Mythology, Hestia is the goddess of Hearth. I have no idea who gave the girl this name, but she obviously did not give it to herself. If a female teacher gave it to her years ago, it might be my soul mate considering I want to name a kid Agamemnon.

Violess – This MUST have been Violet at one point, and it got ‘Luisi’d’

Potter – Obviously, he has a brother named Harry, the teacher who I replaced named him AND his brother. I'm pretty jealous and pray I get the chance to do that.

Julian – This is only funny to me because it’s a girl who has this name. I’m sure it used to be Julieanne, but whatever.

Not at my school, but at someone else’s there’s a kid named Mega Man and Hulk, I’m not kidding.

The kids in my school don't progress from class to class based on their year there, they move up and down depending on how well they are improving so sometimes you run into a situation where there’s two kids with the same name in the same class. I have a class with two kids with the same name and one of them is Peter 1 and the other is Peter 2, I’m not kidding, I actually refer to them this way. Sometimes though, the Korean teachers give them a new name on the fly so there is no confusion, and that’s when someone gets named this gem…

I was a few beers deep my first week when I was told I might have the opportunity to name a Korean student, so there’s no surprise I immediately began thinking of names to call my kids. I have a list of about 30 names in my wallet at all times just incase a new kid comes into my class and wants a chance to pick his own English name from my list. Here’s my top 10 favorites though…

1. Socrates
2. Frodo
3. Donatello
4. Agamemnon
5. Kobe
6. Shaq
7. Lebron
8. Millhouse
9. Achilles
10. Miller (can you imagine the kids pronouncing that?)