I've refrained from commenting on the weather because I don't want to play into a stereotype. You know, like whenever I make one of my rare trips to Lotteria or McDonald's, I invariably run into a coworker or student, and I feel a sense of shame for confirming their belief that we Americans eat hamburgers every day. Well, as you'll learn from the elementary school teachers' guides, making small talk about weather is the exclusive purview of Westerners.
Western people show exclamation even over trifles. This phenomenon isn't found an oriental culture that appreciates people who control their feeling and taciturn. We can usually see Americans who are moved so easily by things that Koreans aren't effected by. This means they are accustomed to expressing feeling freely and frankly. In Western culture, they start a conversation about the weather when they meet someone for the first time: "It's a lovely day, isn't it?" This is reference to the inclement weather in England. The people who live in an area with nice weather like Korea aren't touched by this kind of thing but Englishmen can be impressed.
I don't think I need to comment on that at this point. You know, the funny thing about this "Korea has four distinct seasons" business is that it serves very little practical purpose at all outside of giving Koreans a chance to loudly complain about all four of them, or to enjoy them from the comfort of their apartment. Perhaps "Korea has four distinct seasons" is really a cry for help. I think it has to do with han. One guidebook I have at the office describes Korea's weather thusly, saying the four seasons have led Koreans to a
feeling of unresolved resentment against injustices suffered, a sense of helplessness because of the overwhelming odds against one, a feeling of acute pain in one's guts and bowels, making the whole body writhe and squirm, and an obstinate urge to take revenge and to right the wrong -- all these combined
This woman is a perfect example of someone suffering from nature.
These beachgoers, too, are practically helpless against the distinctive summer weather.
I was going to look up a picture of one of the famed winter miniskirts, but I'm at work now. Instead I'll just have to close with a student essay about what makes him proud of Korea:
Korea has more special things than other countries. Korea has many things to be proud of. There is history, traditions, and other things. My three favorite things about being Korean is geography, modern Korea, and our traditions. Often, I am proud of Modern Korea and I like to share my pride with foreigners,too.
First, let's look at fit Korean geography. Korea has 4 distinct seasons. Some countries envy Korea because of its 4 distinct seasons. Some countries always have winter and some countries always have summer. Korea has many mountains. They are not high, so Koreans can climb them easily. Korean mountains are very beautiful! Korea is a peninsula, so Korea has many marine products. Korea has Jeju and Dokdo. They are only islands, but they are very nice places. Jeju is always warm, so it has a lot of maridarins. Dokdo has very many rare animals. So, it is very beautiful. One of my favorite things about being Korean is geography because it has good climate and many interesting landforms.
It's nice to be proud and everything, but teachers preparing their students for studies abroad need to work to combat the extremely narrow presentation of the world students often get. But let's back up for a second: that's from a sixth-grader. A sixth-grader. Wow. While he has a ways to go, and while bringing out the same standbys are tiresome, it's an example of how far places like Seoul and Gyeonggi---that student is from Suwon---are ahead of Jeollanam-do. I'd be surprised if many English teachers could turn out an essay like that, to say nothing of the many others students at elite hagwon can produce. I don't need that website to remind me, though, as I taught fourth-graders who were practically fluent in English, and the lowest-level students at my old hagwon in Bundang were more advanced than my best students now. You can browse more essays at that hagwon's website, each one better than the last.
* Edit: I just realized I typed that I was going to look up a picture of a miniskirt. But I stand by it. Stand by the statement, I mean, not the skirt. Damn, ambiguity is hard.