Thursday, January 12, 2012

The fascination with d-d-o-n-g

Ryan and I have grown accustomed to many cultural differences since living abroad.  
As a sign of respect, we use two hands when giving or receiving an item.  A polite bow has now replaced a handshake when meeting new people, and we've learned to remove our shoes when entering many restaurants and all homes.

One of the things we haven't grown used to is the strong interest in "ddong", literally translated to "shi*."  Our students spell it out in English (to avoid saying the word itself), using two ''d"s to create a distinct sound, one that differentiates it from the similar Korean word "dong," meaning neighborhood.  
Much, much different.  
It's not uncommon for young children to mold their hands together forming a type of gun, and to then use said "gun" to rudely explore the backsides of  their classmates (and sometimes the unfortunate English teacher).  The act ("ddong cheem") translates literally to "shi* fingers."  
Oh the loveliness of it all.
The topic of ddong is discussed by our students much too frequently, and we've also seen the symbol for it depicted in stickers and notebooks.  
Ddong it seems, is unavoidable.

As we explored Seoul's Insadong last week, we noticed an unusually long line at an outdoor food stand.  Curious, we sidestepped the queue for a closer look.  We quickly realized the popular treat was a pastry in the shape of.......
you guessed it: a pile of d-d-o-n-g.  
We weren't.
I'll stick to h-o-t-t-e-o-k, thank you very much.

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