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.

Children’s Day, pronounced “oh-ree-nee-nal,” in Korean, began in 1923 and has been a national holiday ever since. Children’s Day is for, you guessed it, the children. Children’s Day didn’t originate because the kids work like dogs in school , face unreasonable expectations and have an insane amount of pressure put on them, but at least now they have one day a year where their efforts are rewarded.

Kids get gifts on Children’s Day and it’s pretty common for them to have picnics and/or go out to dinner with their parents to enjoy a nice meal. All my students were all bragging about their steak dinners, cakes, etc. the next day at school. Lot’s of kids will go see a movie with their parents and friends, lucky kids will go shopping and buy new clothes or a game, and really lucky kids will go to the zoo or amusement park. Going to a zoo or amusement park on a day where every kid and their parents have off and everyone wants to do something special, is never a good idea. My Vice Principal told me he spent an hour parking, 12 hours in total point to point on a trip to the zoo. I felt bad for him even though I don’t have kids, and felt horrible knowing my siblings and I probably caused hell in car rides on day trips like that (sometimes even now still).

Children’s Day comes with a catch though, Parents Day, takes place just three days later, meaning any nice deed done for the kids must be repaid in just a few days. (I didn’t know this, but we also have Parents Day and Children’s Day in the US, they aren’t holidays, but there are officially days with those designation.)

“Hagwons” (private, after schools like the one I work at) aren’t closed very often so it was great having a nice break in the middle of the week…humpday no less. While most other teachers here with a brain went out the night before, or did something fun outside on their day off. I woke up at 7am so I could travel 2 hours from where I live to volunteer at an orphanage. I always do go against the grain…

At the orphanage, we cleaned, made lunch, and played with the kids. Unfortunately I am legally not allowed to show their pictures, but I can blur the hell out of them like I did below.

The kids seemed pretty excited for us to be there…except one of them, who was a bit moody to say the least. Taking swings at the volunteers and throwing his toy car around were just some of the signs of his unpleasant temperament. I was interested in solving this dilemma, and I quickly managed to tame the beast. I took a picture of him, showed it to him, and he loved it. He demanded the camera from me and started screaming until he got it. So, I gave it to him, and for the next 2 hours I was on a seesaw, pushing him around the park on a bike, feeding him, etc…all while he had my camera in one hand, and I was holding on to the camera cord with my free hand, petrified it would get smashed on the ground.

I made a friend for the day, stopped someone from throwing fits for a few hours, and got about 60 of the same pictures on my camera, all of which he enjoyed the hell out of seeing over and over again. It was a good day...