I spent 20 minutes last night explaining the debate topic to my Eldorado 1 class. I knew the topic was a bit over their heads, but I had no idea by just how much.
The topic is whether or not South Korea should join the US in a "proliferation security initiative" – basically, should South Korea join other nations in working hard to prevent the nuclear proliferation problem. But it's a sensitive issue, here, since North Korea is the number one offender on the nuclear proliferation front, at the moment. And the South has ambivalences about its other neighbors, too: China is increasingly public about its military (including nuclear) capacity, and Japan is NEVER to be trusted in its non-proliferation commitments (for obvious historical reasons, from the Korean perspective).
The consequence is that while many South Koreans clearly want to side with the US in the non-proliferation movement, there are just as many that would like to simply ignore the situation, either because they don't want to offend the North for fear of antagonizing it (typically, those on the left), or because they would like to see the South developing (perhaps secretly) their own nuclear deterrent (typically, those on the right).
Anyway, I spent lots of time drawing maps and diagrams on the board, and explaining in as simple vocabulary as I could muster, the situation regarding nuclear proliferation. And then, as the bell rang, my student Ann timidly raised her hand, and said, "Teacher… which Korea?" I said that I didn't understand. She elaborated, "Here, Ilsan. Which Korea – North, South?"
"This is South Korea," I said, bemused. Her face brightened. "Oh, thank you. Good night." Oops! Sometimes you need to make sure basic concepts are clear.
In other news… my web-access problems at home are getting progressively more annoying. I couldn't get into facebook, last night. And unlike with my blog host, I was unable to "sneak" in using a proxy. I may be better off trying to freeload wifi off my neighbors, and not pay the $25 a month to SK Broadband. I certainly would never dream of trying to interact with customer service in Korean. I remember vividly my shock and dismay when I realized that the person at the customer service call center at my DSL provider in the US didn't know what a Domain Name Server was. Nothing is more depressing than trying to explain technical stuff to the technical helpdesk people. And to try to do so across a severe language barrier might just cause my brain to self-destruct.