Koreans like to work hard and to play hard. This was, in fact, a point of pride mentioned by our adult students many times during our year teaching ESL there.
Many of our students worked full-time at the Daewoo shipyard on Koje island, and took night classes to complete their degrees. On the evenings when they did not have class, after a long day at work, it was expected that they would hang out with their work colleagues and boss, often going out for dinner and drinks, with long social evenings considered critical to building effective teams for the next day’s work. The same could be said for weekends, when employees would often gather for hiking and barbecues.
A favourite social event, however, was norebang – Korean for karaoke.
dragged invited to karaoke a few times with our students. We had a lot of fun hanging out with them, but singing to Celine Dion songs just wasn’t our preferred mode of socializing. However, we gamely tagged along a few times. The sheer popularity of norebang in Korea, we think, is linked to the actual karaoke bars – not one large bar where you sing in front of a roomful of strangers. In Korea, you pay to rent a small norebang room, so you and your friends can have a private karaoke party.
Here we are on one of our last nights in Korea, having fun with our students. We have totally perfected our rendition of “Hotel California”.