96 Degrees In The Shade


The big sports event at Chungwon School continued yesterday.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect…. luckily, the teacher’s weren’t expected to participate in anything other than soccer!  Sports day consisted of Mass warm-up, Year on Year Soccer, Dodge Ball, Rounder’s (with a soccer ball and no bat), Skipping, Korean Wrestling, a 1/4 mile relay (which they ran barefoot on the Astroturf) and a staff on kids soccer game; the male staff, and the  best male boys.  The students did give the staff a run for their money, but we won 3-1.  The P.E. teacher showed you need no skill or knowledge of the rules of soccer to be the High School Guru of Sport.   Gatorade was available in vast quantities, there was lots of female screaming, boys sneaking off for fags and others doing their best to avoid participation, it was great fun…

I was not entirely surprised when all the teachers, were wearing their “athletic get-up”, jeans and trainers.  All the kids were wearing work-out pants, long-sleeve button-up sweat shirts, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The mild morning weather turned into 85degrees of full blown desert heat. I was really excited about getting some Vitamin D and a nice golden hue…. instead I turned my usual beetroot red and my head looked like dried up salt beef!

It was HOT but there was a nice breeze to take the edge off around the back of the buildings.  All I heard throughout the day was, “OHHH its sooooo hot today.”
Here’s what gets me.  Why oh why, would they all wear sweats and sweatshirts on a day they know they’re going to be running around in the sun?  Here’s why.  Korean’s are obsessed with their skin colour.  You can’t count the number of creams and commercials you see to whiten (or bleach rather) your skin.  It would be understandable if it were just a concern with cancer, but no–this is pure vanity.  The whiter your skin, the more beautiful you are.  Some women go to extremes.  I’ve seen some BAD makeup jobs here with white translucent powder… cover ups and powders come in white, and whiter here. Even the boys were covering up and carrying brollies.

Every time I stood in the sun, the women would pull me back and make me sit in the shade or offer me sun cream with factor 50 protection!! I know all about the sun and its dangers, but a bit of sunshine after a shitty winter is good for you, yes?  I wasn’t running around, and I was alternating taking piccies with time in the shade.
Let me give you some facts.  Koreans suffer from some of the highest Vitamin D deficiencies in the world and their suicide rate for under 30’s tops the world league.  There is so much pressure put on this society to have the highest scores in school and college, and to not be ugly. I have been told that Korean women like men with small heads….what does that mean?  They’re all just so hard on themselves.  When taking pictures today, half the girls covered their faces!  When I asked then why some of their friends didn’t cover their faces, they were quick to tell me it was because they’re ugly.  Vitamin D helps your body regulate your emotions, and helps prevent depression. Maybe a little sunshine would do this country some good and reduce the suicide rate.  Some kids never came outside at all! I have heard stories of a 15 year-old getting a 91% on an exams and then throwing themselves out a window or in front of a metro train….because they didn’t get a 100%, and their dad had beaten the hell out of them. It just makes me sad. Enjoy the pics showing the happy ones having a great time.