Didn’t Do Hallowe’en This Year

Free Hallowe’en PDF at GUD — stories from the first four issues. (Available for now.) Plus some other stuff too…

Didn’t do Hallowe’en this year, beyond watching Inglourious Basterds. Stuff to say about it, which meshes pretty well with what I have to say about another SF film, District 9.

SF? Why yes, Inglourious Basterds is an alternate history, after all. Need one make a spoiler alert at this point? Well, wait, I’ll save it for when I actually post about that. Today, however, I must send in my paper, plus it’s beer-makin’ day. So… more on both those films next time.

Anyway, didn’t go to any of the inevitable Hallowe’en parties. Foreigners in Korea seem to do the same thing anyone does when living abroad — they construct a version of the old country which ain’t so much like what it’s really like. Hallowe’en parties are de rigeur. I went to precisely one as an adult, but here they’re an annual event. Any excuse to gather together “the community,” as some would like to call it.

Personally, I’m a little distrustful of that moniker. “Communities” share common interests besides beer and complaining. Of course communities of non-Koreans do exist in Korea, but they’re usually not what get called “communities” here. And it’s a funny thing, the social cachet that is obtained by becoming a “community organizer” — that is, collecting the phone numbers of every non-Korean in town, along with the Koreans who gravitate to that crowd, and then sending out mass SMSes to them all “inviting” them to “events” that one has planned, usually in a bar.

What’s interesting about those community organizers is that they inevitably have to come to the point of excluding people. Someone gets invited, someone doesn’t. And what’s interesting is how cliques form around them, how haters develop in opposition to them, how rivalries develop. All the usual things in any group of human beings, I suppose.

Hmm. It strikes me that maybe I’m wrong: after all, these negative things emerge in communities of all kinds, too. In towns, in neighborhoods, within larger organizations. “Community” is one of those words we’ve imbued with an unnaturally positive air, but communities can really suck sometimes.

As for Hallowe’en in Korea, well, it’s very cute here. The scary is kind of left out of the equation, so you get goofy costumes, a sort of excuse for cosplay I suppose. It’s cosplayfied, and not much of the “horror” element is maintained in the Korean version of the holiday.

Then again, I think as I glance at the newspaper still on my desk from my summer trip… then again, when 15,000 kids a year are forced to go to boot camp just to “toughen them up” — thanks Mom and Dad, joining a soccer team wouldn’t have been enough, no, no, please pepper-mist us and make us sing the national anthem in a gas mask instead — who needs scary ghosts?

This is the picture accompanying the article in the newspaper on my desk.

Seriously. 15,000 kids a year. As the caption to the photo accompanying the article on the Jakarta Globe website reads: “The Blue Dragon Marine Corps Training camp, run by 52-year-old former South Korean military drill sergeant Park Kyung-hoon, is meant to turn boys and girls into men and women.” And here I was thinking Korean kids don’t get enough chances to be kids, between hakwon and… well, hakwon. And hakwon. And school. And hakwon.

Well, I’ve had this window open all day, and finished editing my paper on the Singularity. (The deadline for submitting it to the MMLA conference  is today — I fly to St. Louis in 12 days to present it — and I just need to reformat it in Word, since Google Docs doesn’t allow quite the degree of control I’d like for headers and footers.) I also made a batch of India Pale Ale, which I’ll likely bottle when I get back from St. Louis. Probably going to start a second batch of beer — Wheat or Stout, not sure, though if I do Stout again I think I may try doing some kind of coffee stout thing.

Right, I’m off for a hike on Wonmisan. The gym closes at 6pm and I wanted to get the editing done in one shot, so it’s outdoor exercise for me today. Here’s hoping the mud has hardened a bit, or it’ll be nutty up there.

7 thoughts on “Didn’t Do Hallowe’en This Year

  1. I only started doing Halloween parties after I had kids. Now I go so that my kids learn a little about Canadian culture before we arrive there in 1 year 8 months and 0 days.

  2. EFL Geek,

    But it’s such a weird representation of Canadian culture… ah well, I understand. So heading back, huh? How do you feel about that?


    Yeah, scary. Glad R liked them. :) They were free, so… no biggie!

  3. I dont’ think Halloween is any weirder than Peppero day or, black day and at least it wasn’t invented by the confectionary industry (though they sure do take advantage of it)

    Re: going home, I started a new blog a month ago Repatriate Me! feel free to subscribe and/or leave comments.

    1. EFL Geek,

      Well, I never said that Pepero day, black day, and the others weren’t weird! All those holidays are strange to me. I wonder, though, whether Koreans abroad make a big deal out of Pepero day the way Westerners in Asia go nuts about Hallowe’en.

      Or maybe I’m a stick in the mud and people were also cheeseballs about it back home, but I never noticed because my crowd was the minority who wasn’t into it. I suppose I might get a costume if I had kids who were doing their first few Hallowe’ens, but I don’t fell all that tempted to dress up like a pirate or whatever and go to a bar.

      New blog! Well, I’ll add it to the list I *would* be reading if I ever had time to kick back with an RSS feed. :) Anything specific prompt the planned return to Canada, or would you prefer not to share?

  4. Gord,

    A number of things. Mostly my kids and their unwillingness to use English anymore. The ESL racket in Korea stinks – yes I’ve become a little bitter about that. And I think that after 13+ years it’s time for me to move one.

  5. EFL Geek,

    Ah, the kids being unwilling to use English would be a big prompt! I always feel odd about Anglo parents of kid here when the kids are refusing English. Their peers will be struggling to get what those kids can have for free, but don’t want. Hmmm.

    The ESL racket… oh, I hear you. And yeah, 13+ years is a long time! Well, I hope the move to Canada goes well…

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