Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cell Phones

In South Korea, most people have cell phones, including kids down to age six and seven (maybe younger? I don't know any younger kids). I'm pretty sure that every kid at Langcon Academy has one. That may sound like a problem at first, but since cell phones are more popular than credit card debt is in the US, it's not any more special to have a cell phone than, say, wearing pants. I've only had to tell students not to use their phones during class twice since I've been here, and in both cases the student was calling his mother. Any other times, the students were using their far more advanced cell phone's built-in translator to look up a Korean word in English. Oh, and, bonus: there's no "f" sound in the Korean language, so cell phones are pronounced "cell pone" (since cell phones originated in the West, Koreans just adapted the US term).
Another thing about cell phones, and Korean culture in general, is the mixture of normal adults and kid stuff that I can't think of a good word do describe. Okay, scenario: picture a Korean businessman, dressed in a full suit and tie. His shoes are shined, his hair is well-cut, and his face could not be any more serious. You're walking toward him, when you hear the sound of babies giggling, mixed with background music from Rainbow Brite or Hello Kitty or unicorns or other "girly" kid stuff, coming from his pocket. It's his cell phone. He nonchalantly reaches into his pocket and pulls out his shiny black device, which seems to suit his outward appearance; of course, except for the babies giggling, and the pink rubber Hello Kitty face hanging off the phone. Seriously. Almost as common as cell phones are the cell phone hangy-thingies, of which I own two. Heck, when Gina and I got our cell phones a few weeks ago, they told us that we could each pick out one for free (they call free stuff "service" in Korea, so they gave us service). I picked out some frog rubber-headed hangy-thingy because I though it looked neat, and Gina told me it was Hello Kitty's or Strawberry Shortcake's best friend, or something like that. I don't use it, though; I use a "bobojo" hangy-thingy that I bought in Guam, with a little black-beaded man next to a little black-beaded girl wearing a red grass skirt, and an oval with "Guam" stamped on it. Much cooler than Hello Kitty.

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