Asians have a relationship with poop that never fails to astound me. “Poop” was one of the first words I learned in both Korean and Japanese (although being around children the vast majority of the time may have had something to do with that.)
Poop, or ddong as it’s called in Korean is everywhere. I don’t mean it’s in the streets or anything like that! There is a little squirt of poop, rather like a soft-serve ice cream that is everywhere. You can buy stuffed poop-shaped key chains, poop-shaped sparkly stickers, there is a Poop Chicken restaurant down the street from me (I know… eew.) and I even saw a store in Seoul that sold hot poop-shaped sweet bread.
Sometimes the poop is animated with eyeballs and a smiley mouth. Fairly often, the poop is golden and sparkly as well.
So it came as no surprise this week when I turned the page in my Grade 3 textbook and discovered a picture of poop. Goose poop to be precise, in picture #4. There was a little video clip of the story for the students to watch but the key points are illustrated below.
The story is a Korean folk tale about a wealthy man who accuses a guest of stealing his ring. As you can see in picture #2, the goose ate the ring but the wealthy man doesn’t believe the guest. Luckily, just as the guest is about to be taken away to a horrible fate, the goose wanders by and poops out the ring (complete with slightly too realistic sound effects.)
“Carrie-teacher,” my co-T said, distracting me from my horrified fascination with the goose poop on our large screen TV. “Can you teach the students about ddong in English?”
“Really?” I gasped. “I mean, sure! Of course!”
“Ddong = Poop” I wrote on the board, choosing the most innocuous word for fecal matter I could think of.
“Repeat after me everybody!” I said, trying really, really hard not to laugh. “Poop! Poop!”
Shaking my head at the oddness of Korea, I made my way into one of the fifth grade classrooms where I discovered that the homeroom teacher had redecorated. The classroom of course looked lovely, but this was the new timetable:
The days of the week were little angry, straining men, the classes were poop and the free periods were squat toilets.
Oh Korea, you never cease to amaze and beffudle. 🙂