Based on my experiences as a child and as an educator, kids tend to be rather curious about their teachers. I’ve found that it’s usually either the really good ones or the really bad ones on the receiving end of whatever question pops into their minds. (Here’s to hoping I’m the former.) But when you’re a non-Korean or non-East Asian in a country where only 3.4% of the population is foreign, kids will have some seemingly strange questions to ask.
Below are the six questions I get asked most often by Korean students ages 6-14:
“How old are you?”
While this would be considered quite rude in the Western world, in Korea knowing someone’s age lets you know how you should speak and interact with them. Obviously, they already know that I’m older than them. Plus, there’s no separate verb tense to use in English when you’re speaking to an older person. But I’ve come to accept the question as normal, so I answer honestly and without offense.
“Are you married?”
To which I’d reply, “No, but like I said, I’m only 27 I GOT TIME!”
“Do you have a boyfriend?”
I usually give them my short answer, which is either a simple “No” or “I wish.” The long answer would entail an explanation as to why the entire population of straight males that I’ve been attracted to so far are so stupid, clueless, and downright rude.
“Did you get a nose job?”
In Korea, many people who get rhinoplasty aim to have a more prominent bridge. Seeing as it’s more popular in the West to have a smaller nose, I always find it amusing when students ask if I achieved my look through surgery. One student even asked me to wiggle my nose with my finger, which supposedly proves whether or not it’s real.
“Are your parents Korean?”
With the name Kim, I expected that this question in some form or another would come up eventually. From time to time I’ll joke and say that I am Korean and that my full name is 김벌리 (“Kimberly” in Korean.) But obviously I can’t fool them for long.
“What is your eye color?”
They don’t usually notice right away, but every once in a while a student will ask to look at my eyes to check the color. At first they’ll say, “Teacher! Yellow eyes!” to which I have to correct them and say “Hazel eyes.” One student told me, “Teacher, when I look at your eye, it is like a fox!” So there you have it, my new nickname: Fox eyes.
Featured image via GIPHY