Korean is an interesting language overflowing with sounds Americans are unaccustomed to hearing in public. It is a pastiche, a hodgepodge of sounds and emotions oscillating from melodic and canorous to whiney to a heated demand all within a few seconds. And certain phrases must be said in these particular schemes for Koreans to understand what is being said. “I’m hungry” for instance has to be accompanied with the whiniest, most annoying voice possible or else, it just doesn’t translate to “I’m hungry.”
Korean culture is an interesting animal, one that requires much time for understanding. Business for example runs, in general, inefficiently, at least in my experience and suggestions are not expected nor are they usually taken. So when it was decided by management that we make a six hour round trip bus ride to the sister school in Yangpyeong so the kids in the Winter Camp could perform on the larger stage with more costumes, that was what we did. They didn’t consider purchasing more costumes for the Ansan campus. No, instead we drove an impracticle amount of time for the silly performances.
Their major project of the winter camp was to write, direct, and perform a play of their choice. The other four classes adapted particular plays such as Mammamia and Romeo and Juliet. Our class however focused on the dancing aspect, a crucial aspect of Korean cultural. The play itself made no sense. There were four princess in a band called A. N. gels. However Sleeping Beauty left the band to get plastic surgery so the manager replaced Sleeping Beauty with her twin brother Sleeping Handsome and dressed him as a girl. Snowhite in particular was ornery with the new band member but of course they fall in love in the end. Another character, Wizard Charming, played by a girl, with absolutely no purpose that I can tell, enters the show at one point. He is also in love with Snowhite, and somehow knows that Sleeping Beauty is actually Sleeping Handsome, but refuses to disclose this information earlier because of his undying love for Snowhite. Snowhite is the love interest of all in this hodgepodge of a play, but shows no kindness to anyone, and doesn’t deserve the attention she receives. In the end, the princesses discover during one of their performances that Sleeping Handsome is in fact a boy. The discovery occurs when his wig is accidentally knocked off in front of their audience during a show. But not to worry, the nail biting is all for naught, for all turns out well in the end. Snowhite and Sleeping handsome become an item, and with a little coaxing from the audience, their union is sealed with a fake kiss. And the fake kiss is crucial as the girl playing Snowhite has a boyfriend watching in the audience.
But I digress from the true story, “how the stapler saved the day.” The costume closet at Yangpyeong, crammed to the brim with racks and racks of time period nylon and other cheap material pieces, was incredibly impressive. The princesses were in luck as there happened to be a Disney costume for all but Thumb-a-lina who chose a white tutu instead. However, my opinion and the girl playing Cinderella’s opinion were not in accordance. In fact our opinions were on opposite playing fields. You see, the costume for Cinderella was long, as in ankle length. In Asian culture, the girls wear the shortest skirts possible, but will RARELY show skin above their chest. And I am not referring to showing cleavage because that would just about NEVER happen, but the area below the neck and above the cleavage line is often covered in baby doll fashion. Think school girl uniform, and you will understand the style better. So it bothered her not that Cinderella’s costume went all the way to her neck in a choker collar fashion, only that her skirt went to her ankles. The events that happened next, I am sad to say, I didn’t catch on video for your viewing entertainment. But your ears, I am sure, will be appreciative that the eardrum exploding hullabaloo that ensued was not captured on tape. For the wailing departing that small Korean mouth might as well have been a tortured demon howling for mercy from excruciatingly painful torture techniques. Her yowls caromed around the small room, swathing it in black anguish generating acute physical unpleasantness reserved for grief stricken funerals and nails on chalk board. Consoling made no dent in the howls, nor did groveling or pleading. Only the promise that she wouldn’t be cursed with having to wear a skirt which might destroy her core being would relinquish the noise. When safety pins were nowhere to be found, the next best option was the stapler Kyle had placed in my bag a day earlier. Upon finding it, before the ear drum exploding event, I had silently cursed myself for not taking it out in Ansan before the trip. Thank goodness, I hadn’t removed it, for that stapler saved the day, and consoled her temper tantrum to a near smile. The skirt was stapled to a shorter length, and everyone lived happily ever after.
The two videos below are of the pre-show events including Cinderella’s skirt being stapled by my co-teacher and their performance, which I highly recommend, as it is exceedingly entertaining.