between jobs and short on cash i took up an offer to spend last saturday looking after some kids at everland, korea's largest amusement park. $120 and park entry, it sounded like a good deal. it wasn't.
still half-asleep and shroud in fog we find the place, a large tent, outside the gates, boasting such grammatically correct signs as "have a awesome party, jack-o-lantern". a man starts pulling costumes from a box and handing them to us. i wait till last and get rewarded - a full body skeleton outfit! we are told nothing more than that kids are going to come and that we should stand somewhere and give them a stamps and talk with them a bit. the next thing we know, literally thousands of korean children are pouring down the "path of stupidly-dressed white people." even if we had time to ask each kid a question other than "what is your name?" they would only give us blank stares. i dont have a station pretending to give a medical check up or sell $1 ice-creams, so i wander around trying to scare children. i'm getting sweaty and kids are prodding me with toy pitchforks from all angles. this isnt fun and it smells like scam.
the line finally dies down and we shed our outfits and wait for someone to tell us if we can have some lunch or if that's all we're supposed to do. its not, obviously. after a quick look inside the park to get some lunch we are ushered into a theatre, the stage appropriately backdropped with "a horror english halloween party". the kids fill the seats and the show begins with alex narrating 'the history of halloween' off the top of his head while i improvise actions for his story on the stage in my skeleton outfit. apart from our shiny white faces, this turned out to be the sole english content of the entire show, the korean mc subsequently instructing balloon games and dance competitions and best-dressed awards.
as an aside, there is something fundamentally askew about 10 y.o. korean girls "dancing ssssexy" (as the mc put it) to horrible beats spouting "lyrics" such as 'sex machine'. of course, their move-perfect routines are just imitations from tv and they are clearly unaware of their connotations. which then puts the responsibility back on the parents and the teachers, who disturbingly watch enthusiastically with video cameras.
our heads pounding and irritations mounting, this joke of an english camp seemed to finally be coming to close. that was of course, until another 500 kids came in and we learned we were to do it all again. nine hours work, not a single ride ridden, never an idea of what was next, and the most minimal english taught. we left, took the wrong bus home, and pathetically waited for the money to be transferred to our accounts two days later. not a good day.