“Well,” Andrea* told me, “me and Mae were planning on doing a dance for the talent show. Probably to that mix by DJ Earworm.”
These were my grade sixes, informing me and my mentor teacher of their entry for the upcoming talent show, which, as a slaving, bootlicking student-teacher, I would almost certainly be involved in to some degree. I discussed the song with them for a few minutes, to establish my cred, to fully exhibit my subversiveness and deeply rooted connections with modern happenings and the youth of today. For whatever reason, having an encyclopaedic command of popular culture has always been important to me. Maintaining my with-it-ness has always been somewhat crucial to my sense of self, the core of my personality just barely held together by a sticky web of Simpsons’ quotations, nerdy movie references, and unnecessarily bescarfed indie music superiority.
Moving to the other side of the planet can really throw a wrench into such a system.
버닝 헵번 (Burning Hepburn) – Life Goes On
For the first month or so of living in Korea, it was hard not to feel as though I was on a long, increasingly surreal vacation. Sure, I worked, occasionally, but everything was fresh and new and weird and just waiting to be experienced. It was a personal playground generated by the universe for me and my narcissism. I wasn’t living in Korea, I was having a year-long visit where also I developed my career path. As that feeling faltered and I adjusted to the concept of actually living in this country, I realized: I hadn’t been anywhere outside of Incheon or the main core of Seoul. Thus I leapt upon every chance to leave the city, to prove to myself that there is actually more Korea out there than the areas serviced by the central loop of the Seoul metro.
Back in Canada, I generated a number of evasive techniques to avoid certain pop music that I hated. Not all of it, as I’m not going to try to claim that all pop music is worthless, but some songs and artists aggravated me, and thus I tried to keep them at bay. I never listened to radio. I’d always keep my iPod on my person to block out ear-offending beats with my own. I knew what to ignore on the internet. As an educator, especially of elementary students, you often come in close contact with children’s pop culture, and you have to fortify your pop defences. I half-jokingly banned students from singing certain songs around me in class, and would threaten them with my own horrible taste in music should they assault me with theirs. In Korea, all of these techniques are useless or moot.