Sometimes I miss the value Americans put on individuality. Many times we appreciate those who are on top of a certain indie band or movie. Well, in Korea it’s very different. Koreans collectively get really into one particular band or one popular movie. Sometimes it drives me crazy. However, there is one particular case in which I absolutely LOVE this aspect of Koreans.
Have you seen the Disney movie Frozen? Do you know the song, “Let It Go” from the movie? I would venture to say 95% of Koreans are aware of it (probably an exaggeration, but let’s roll with it).
“Let It Go” has elevated my love for Korea. It all began last Thursday when I walked into Bongsan (my rural school that I visit once a week). I walked into a 4th grade classroom and the homeroom teacher immediately handed me a stack of papers with the lyrics. I was very confused – we don’t have a common language, I was vaguely familiar with Frozen, and had never heard of this song. But eventually I realized she wanted me to teach the words to the students. Ok, sure why not, let’s give it a go. I passed out the lyrics, Googled the music video and hit play. The kids went… NUTS. The joy this song brought was ridiculously adorable. I made some adjustments to my lessons for the day and incorporated this song into grades 5 and 6. Same joyful reaction. As the students were leaving for the day, I heard a group of “tough” 6th graders belting, “Don’t let them in, Don’t let them see, Be the good girl you always have to be…” Priceless.
I decided to run with this enthusiasm. After all, they were singing in English! A teacher’s gotta snag these type of opportunities. The next day, I taught my students some phrases from the song and then we had multiple rip-roaring sing alongs. I made the decision to leave out the explanation of “my soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around” (what does that even mean?!).
Last weekend, we went to Pyeongchang, 2018 Olympics venue, for some skiing and boarding. It was an excellent trip. But guess what it made it even better? As I was clipping in my bindings at the top of a run, I heard a group of adult snowboarders singing, “Let it gooooo, Let it goooo.” On the gondola ride up, the girl next to me was humming, well, you guessed it!
So naturally Kenny and I can’t stop singing the song. He seriously hums it for 4 hours straight, I’m very impressed. This whole story, however, culminated last night. We had a teacher’s dinner, followed by a trip to the noraebang (Korean karaoke in a small room filled with snacks, beer, and in this particular case, sparklers). Within 5 minutes of arrival, the teachers start shouting, “Aleeeesun! Siiing!” Now, I’m not one to carry a tune, but sometimes you just have to say, “Ok!” Then, without any regard to my song preference they began to yell, “Let it go!!! You sing ‘Let it go!!’”
OF COURSE! Obviously I can now sing this song in my sleep. And so can my 60 year old principal and vice-principal, as I found out when I was shoving the mic in their faces for a quick solo performance. In case you couldn’t guess, they knew the entire song.
Oh, Korea, you craaaaazy.