Last year, as part of my Asialink residency in Seoul, I wrote an article for the Australian National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) on the subject of my experience of teaching a course on Australian culture at Sogang University. Here’s a quick excerpt:
I have sung the national anthem (‘a capella?’ one incredulous fellow-traveller asked me) and ‘Waltzing Matilda’, tried to explain bizarre Australian terms like ‘beach bum’ and ‘laconic’ and even spent a few moments discussing Shane Warne’s penchant for cigarettes and text messaging. I now have sitting in front of me a stack of essays on famous Australians, including Ned Kelly, Kylie Minogue and Oodgeroo Nonnuccal. Strangely enough, only one student chose to write about John Howard.
‘Taking Kylie To Korea’, NTEU Advocate (March 2006)
The article contains one small factual error: in the final sentence I state that the way to say ‘I am Australian’ in Korean is hoju saram, when in reality the correct way to say it is hoju saram ipnida.
Just in case anyone’s ever called on to explain US foreign policy while travelling in Korea.
Then again, perhaps it’d be even more useful to know how to say ‘I am not an American’ in that delightful but difficult language.