Butt Flower

Gord: Good morning!
Class: Good morning!
Gord: How are you?
Class: Fine, thank you, and you?
Gord: I’m good. It’s a nice day!
One Student: Yes, it is! It’s a warm!
Gord: Yes, it’s warm. Hey, everybody! Look out the window.
Class: (looking out the window)
Gord: Do you know what those flowers are called?
Another Student: The butt flower? Heh heh.
Class: (laughs)
Gord: (gesturing at his butt) The butt flower? No, no. It’s called a cherry flower.
Class (scatteredly): Cher-ry flower.
Gord: Those flowers are beautiful, aren’t they?
Majority of the Class: Yes!
One Student: No! It’s ugly.
Gord: What? Ugly? The opposite of beautiful?
One Student: Ugly, yes!
Gord: (Offering student his glasses.)
Class: (laughs)
Gord: Why do you think it’s ugly?
One Student: It’s Japanese. So it’s ugly!
Gord: (involuntary shocked look)
Class: (laughs)
Gord: But… the flower itself. It’s ugly?
One Student: Yes. I hate. It’s ugly.
Class: (Laughs)
Gord: Okay, then… uh… Well, let’s talk about the test next week!
Class: (groans)

I hardly see the point in commenting on it—here or in class—but the scene was both very surprising to me—for a moment—and then, immediately after, completely unsurprising. To the student’s credit, it’s probably difficult to say something like, “I find the cherry tree a bittersweet reminder of the legacy of Japan’s occupation of Korea,” but then again, I suspect he would not have said “ugly” if he was thinking something as nuanced as that. I would imagine he’d use a word like “sad” or “unhappy” or “poor”.

The cherry blossom is called the “Beot Ggot”, so the “Butt Flower” is just a half-translation of the Korean name of the flower into English.

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