Who’s who?

If you have found yourself in the middle of a post and wanted more details, or even an introduction, you can browse the many characters I’ve come across below.

Spring Semester, Gyeongnam, 2021 to current


Helen [Grades 3 & 6] my main point of contact; she has a personal trainer and we’ve bonded over the body fat scanner at our respective gyms

Jack [Grades 4 & 5] a middle aged man who asks the most interesting questions; hired contractually for his specialized middle school English credentials though his conversation skills are not reflective of his cert; a nice and helpful guy who gifted me a flower that I’m now obligated not to kill for at least a year

Yana [Grades 5 & 6] my travel school co-teacher and fellow drama watcher; desperately overworked but unfailingly helpful; we both love pumpernickel bread from Outback though I don’t eat mine with mango butter

Grade 6-1 Homeroom Teacher: another kind sixth grade teacher who busts out perfect English then apologizes; she recently showed me the class science experiment and promised to give me an extra sewing kit from home ec

Grade 6-4 Homeroom Teacher: a nice lady who talks to me in the breakroom; participates in games on occasion

Grade 5-2 Homeroom Teacher: a very petite woman who is studying TESOL at a local university; I end up in a lot of what I assume are homework observation videos; she somehow knows Anthony because teaching is a small incestuous world and said they have talked about me

Grade 5-3 Homeroom Teacher: outgoing lady that chats with me in Korean; we are in a compliment battle about each other’s outfits; her mother passed away recently and even through her grief she is incredibly kind and motherly

Grade 5-4 Homeroom Teacher: once told me my class was boring; heavily involved in participating; former English teacher and passionate to boot; says hi to me around school or when we have to come on weekends to get COVID tests (multiple tests? it’s more likely than you think)

Anthony: sixth grade teacher at my travel school; he surprised me with his English and more with his appreciation of my dad jokes; we play volleyball together in the secret league with other teachers on Wednesday afternoons

Jisoo: second grade teacher at my travel school; the youngest employee and the baby of the office; she started in fall semester and already said “I love you”; is friendship pending?


Grade 6

Hamin (travel school): break-dancing boy from the local orphanage; turned his attitude around and is doing so much better in English

Maria (travel school): Colombian transplant; her dad is in the Navy; I once saw her, her mom, and her brother in their car and they all waved to me; she doesn’t speak Korean well; has a crush an Hamin

Jiyu: lived in Canada for years; wrote me a nice letter for Teacher’s Day

Minseok: Jiyu’s classmate, silly boy with just my type of humor, likes to add his own commentary

ONEUS trio: a group of girls in 6-3 who like the boy group I once had the opportunity to see back in Seoul; am I cool now?

Grade 5

Sungbin: somehow always at the scene of a crime; troublemaker but the kind I can’t help but like

Olivia: future president; first kid to ever write me a note; always wants to know what I plan for class; asked for my phone number

Grade 4

Minyung and friends: a trio of girls that always ask me for extra high fives

Dongju: a boy who knows English well and wants everyone to know; can be a showoff but in an endearing way; classmates usually groan at him until he behaves

Hwanyung: Dongju’s classmate; both of them wrote me letters for Teacher’s Day

Busan (Fall & Winter), 2020~2021


House Owner [Korean]: just a few years older than me; she also runs a cafe with her boyfriend and has offered to grind the four pound bag of whole beans I bought from Costco; she introduced me to her college friends once I believe with the intention of cutting down one of the more obnoxious ones which is my specialty

Freshman [Korean]: House Owner’s cousin; she will live here for the full four years of uni; whenever we hang out she writes about it in her diary; she squeals and does a happy dance whenever something good happens; my coffee gets two thumbs up from her

Brazilian: a twenty-six year old guy with the biggest puppy dog eyes you’ve ever seen; he is in fact a puppy; he works in China but has been unable to return after coming to Korea on vacation to see his girlfriend and the borders closed; he finally made it back to China in December 2020; we are WeChat friends now

Male Korean: he once told me he hates all Chinese and thinks Korea is too socialist and since then my opinion of him has been struggling to grow; he talks loudly in English as if that will disguise his poor grammar; he can for some reason really pull off wigs, much to my envy; he was kicked out for (un?)intentionally trying to poison the dog

Russian: he replaced Male Korean as the obligatory weird roommate; he’s a psychologist with somehow very little EQ and a small personal space bubble; his socks are themed after children’s shows; I honestly can’t tell most days if he’s being awkwardly polite or poorly making advances on me

Spring Semester, 2020


C [Grades 4 & 5] the new “S”; main co-teacher and handler; she has a master’s and studied in the UK; she is graciously acting as my mentor teacher for my teaching program

E [Grades 3 & 6] previously the homeroom teacher of the terrible 6-3; she studied in the same city where I worked the job of which we do not speak

Fall Semester, 2019


S [Grades 4 & 6] main co-teacher and handler; she is very petite but does not like to be reminded of the fact; unbeknownst to me at the time she helped hoist my luggage up the stairs with stomach staples; next semester she hopes to be a homeroom teacher

H [Grades 3 & 5] co-teacher; she was out for most of fall semester on maternity leave and will take a gap year in 2020; she speaks English well and enjoys quizzing me in Korean

G [Grades 3 & 5] substitute co-teacher for H while she was on maternity leave; she lived in the USA for nearly two decades; she gave me many gifts and compliments and we spent a lot of time talking about students and the school

Male music teacher: one of the non-English subject teachers; his first plane trip was 2019 and he once asked me if foreigners eat only bread for dinner

Guitar teacher: part-time guitar teacher and after-school teacher; he rotates schools throughout the week so we are able to eat lunch together in the teacher’s lounge maybe once a week; TBD if he will return for 2020 but I hope he does so I can continue to embarrass him (update: he never returned and I never saw him again)

Head teacher: leader of all the teachers; she has a wavy perm and a friendly, masculine-type energy that makes her easy to get along with

VP: the school vice principal; a quirky man who keeps a weightlifting set in his cubicle and also practices unicycling in the school gym

Principal: a sharply dressed older woman; she tends to pass information indirectly


Grade 6

Heejoo: she rarely says a word in English class but once chatted with me about iKon and guitars outside of Guitar Teacher’s classroom; she was happy to try to talk with me after class

“Wooseok is my boyfriend” Girl: friend of Heejoo that always keeps me up to date with her idol of the week

Seonghwa: she didn’t go on the school field trip and instead spent a day playing off-brand monopoly with me and S

Grade 5

Strong Girl: leader of the grade 5 trio including Tank Boy and Weak Boy, Weak Boy gave her this nickname; she is a chaotic neutral and seems to antagonize female students; she is one of the tallest fifth graders and she only wears volleyball tracksuits

Weak Boy: he excitedly gave himself this nickname; G told me he is a very good boy and he is; he always helps his friends and lets Strong Girl play with the baby hairs on his neck

Tank Boy: other teachers said he was no good but I have to disagree as no matter the situation, he always stops to say “Hi, Teacher!”; Tank Boy loves to tell me about his life even if he struggles to make a sentence in English but his effort is pure

“Handsome”/”Give me candy” Girl/Jeongyeon: she and Strong Girl do not get along; I gave her these nicknames because she always asks me for candy even though I’ve never done so before and once before she purposely called me “handsome” knowing its a term used mostly for men; she once helped me make ramen at GS25

Geoni: a very clever and small boy that won school representative and has a laugh bigger than his body

Gym Friend: this boy lived in America for five years and speaks fluently, however, he is not the most motivated in class; I once heard “hello” at the gym and came face to face with him at 7AM

Grade 4

Seungkwan Jr: a very helpful and studious boy who favors, well, Seungkwan from Seventeen

Sweeper Friend: a bunny toothed boy who once helped clean the classroom while telling me all about ddeokbokki; he’s a handful in class

American Girl: her mom is American and we often run into each other in the neighborhood; she is famed for her artistic skills

Clever Girl: she wears glasses and has straight bangs and is entirely too clever for her age

“Am I Pretty” Girl: on my first day with grade 4 she asked me who was the prettiest in class so I pointed to a boy in the front row; she dyes her hair and is very interested in English; she and Clever Girl are friends

Baby J: with rosy cheeks, permed hair, and chipper spirit he really seems like a character from an American Christmas storybook; he shares the same name as my good friend J, hence “Baby J” (the two look nothing alike)

Grade 3

Nick Jr: he is a little slow in English class but his intermittent blinks, ticks, and oval face remind me so much of my middle brother Nick

Jaekyung: she is entirely too self-aware for a third grader; she once wrote me a long note in Korean thanking me for carefully watching over the class and helping her in English

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