Got your attention? Nice. Let me explain.
So, I've started a new job. I wrapped up things at CIS mid-January, spent a month in Thailand (yeah, it rocked), then headed back here mid-February for my friends' going away bash. After the tears were dried it was off to the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE hereafter) orientation week for day after day of tedious explanations on how to use the subway and write hangeul and come up with classroom activites and blah blah blah. Thank the maker I had some roomies and met some cool folks who were up for sneaking off campus and whetting our whistles from time to time.
At the end of orientation, I was given my assignment. I got a Catholic (score!) high school (score!) teaching all boys (damn!) in Hyehwa (score! - trust me on this one). But what's most interesting about my school is its name.
First, some background information. The Korean language has been heavily influenced by Chinese, and indeed for most of its history Chinese characters were used for everyday correspondence. Hangeul (Korean script) wasn't commonly used in Korea until (checking wikipedia...) the late 19th century. Nowadays, it's ubiquitous and almost exclusively used, Chinese characters rarely show up and when they do it's usually on offical documents, building names, things like that.
As such, many Chinese characters are written in Hangeul in modern Korean, and this can cause confusion because the Chinese word may mean something entirely different than its Korean counterpart. In other words, there are a lot of double/triple/quadruple meanings, just as in English.
Still with me? Wow, what a trooper.
Which brings me to the name of my school. In Hangeul, it's written as such: 동성(Dong-Sung). I have no idea how to write in Chinese, so that will have to suffice. The Chinese characters mean "East Star," referring to Venus. Not a bad name, right?
But then we have the vernacular Korean. "Dong" can also mean same, and "Sung" can also mean gender, or sex. So...follow me?
Basically, the name of my school is "Catholic Gay High School," at least in everyday Korean. So, well, there you go.