Seoul does Halloween.
Koreans don’t make a big deal out of Halloween. It’s clearly not a super important holiday over here (though “important” is generally a relative verb when regarding Halloween). However, the spirit(s) remain strong in the foreigners and, of all places, the private language academies such as the one that employs me.
My SLP takes two days around the time of Halloween for parties for the students. The students have their half of the class with the Korean teacher, and during the time typically spent in the foreign teacher’s class they join the rest of the classes of that period for a party we put on. In the past it’s typically only the morning teachers that dress up for this, since the school buys them costumes from a catalog, but this year we were somewhat coerced into dressing up as well. I didn’t horribly mind, since I already had a costume for the weekend, and I make a pretty darn good Deputy Sheriff. The preschoolers dressed to the nines, but my afternoon classes tried to convince me that they were too old for costumes. Hogwash.
I think the students genuinely enjoyed the party. In a fit of creative genius we scheduled face painting, musical chairs, limbo, and a scary picture drawing contest. Ok, so none of us are event organizers, and we may have had to think on our toes a bit for new games with the older classes, but eventually they were having a lot of fun too.
Though those days were fun yet tiring, we unfortunately have to pay for them elsewhere. In typical Hagwon fashion, no day is lost, and tomorrow we are simply going to teach two lessons in the place of one to make up for our loss of a day. I’m no mathematician, but 1 + 1 has never equaled 1. It makes about as much sense as having the party the week before Halloween, rather than on Halloween, and putting it the day before monthly tests, rather than between units. But I won’t dwell on that.
Fortunately, Halloween does not stop there. I joined up with some friends after music team practice at church to paint the town red. Decked out in a new mustache twice the size the one in those pictures, Wyatt Earp met them in Itaewon before moving on to Hongdae. I was initially pretty apprehensive about being dressed up in public, thinking I would be one of a few. My fears were relieved once I saw the Ghostbuster crew walk onto the same subway as me. The closer I got to Itaewon the more costumes I saw, until I arrived at Itaewon station and so huge crowds of zombies, pirates, ghouls, clowns, and so on.
Itaewon has the largest ratio of foreigners to Koreans, so there were plenty of costumes there. Even in Hongdae I didn’t feel the slightest bit odd walking around with my vest and sheriff badge, though the people dressed up were still largely foreigners. Like I said, it’s not a big holiday for Koreans. The one thing Koreans and foreigners alike could agree on is the fact that my mustache was worth a million bucks (or one billion Won.) I’m actually thinking I could have ditched the hat, vest, and badge and just worn the lip beard.
One day to Halloween, and it’s still not over. Tomorrow night I’ll likely be at a swing dance, though I may be too costumed-out for a Deputy Dawg or anyone else to make an appearance.