Thursday, September 13, 2012

Host Bro - 남동생

My host younger brother is so cool (멋있어요!). Right now, he's practicing the theme from Pirates of the Caribbean on the piano. He's been at it for a few weeks now, and I can tell it's getting better and better.

He can also play the flute and is taking classical guitar lessons at school. I love that his parents are allowing him to explore music while he still can. He is a first-year in middle school, so there's not much time left before he inevitably turns into another Korean 24-7 studying machine (also known as a high school student).

(In Korea, middle school is three years -- equivalent to American 7th-9th grades -- and high school is three years -- 10th-12th. All of junior high is spent preparing for high school; all of high school is spent preparing for college.)

Since arriving in Changwon, I have spent more time with him than I have spent with anyone else. One of the first things he did to break the ice was to show me his massive Rubik's cube collection; he has nine different cubes, including a 2x2, a 4x4, a star-patterned one, and lots of specialty designs. We play chess together; I've beaten him without mercy every time in Western chess, but he sweeps the floor with me in Korean chess (장기, janggi).

And if you're curious how we communicate, I use English and Korean only when necessary. His electronic dictionary and my phone's dictionary app do come in handy. Today, for example, my dictionary and I asked him if he'd sell his soul in order to stay young forever. (I just finished reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, so yeah.)

His English is halting, but intelligible. Sometimes, because of the dictionary, he'll throw out a word that just baffles me. Picture this: last night, he came by my room while the door was open, squirmed on the ground a bit, and then said, "Myalgia."

Me: What?
Host bro: My-al-gi-a.
Me: ... What is that?
Host bro: I don't know. *points to his back*
Me: Um... *looks up the definition of myalgia*
Me: OH. In English, we say, "I'm sore."
Host bro: I'm sore.

Okay, we're going to go play chess now! Host bro is getting a lot better lately; he's gotten as far as putting me in a nasty stalemate. I'm really looking forward to the day when he beats me.

P.S. Myalgia is 근육통, keunyuktong.

P.P.S. Another gem: when I asked why Tory, one of the dogs, wasn't allowed to eat tomatoes, he pointed to her and said, "He eat this... his ddong... bad smell."