Have you ever wanted to wander into the minds of Korean elementary school students? Who hasn’t? Seriously, kids are great (and sometimes not-so-great) because they tend to be innocently (and mercilessly) honest. I finished my “Seasons” lesson with a survey using questions with the “What _____ do you like?” structure, and I thought I’d share the results:
Subjects: 114 Korean sixth-grade students
#1: What color do you like?
1. Sky blue (21 students) 2. Black (18) 3. Red (15) 4. Blue & Yellow (14)
In the ensuing Family Feud-style game where the results where unveiled, the students themselves seemed shocked that black scored so high. I found it amazing that so few students chose pink when more than half of the girl students traipse the halls decked out in pink ensembles on any given day.
#2: What animal do you like?
1. Dogs (35) 2. Dragons (12) 3. Monkeys (11) 4. Cats (9) 5. Tigers (6)
The top answer was a no-brainer, but dragons at no. 2? Who knew?
#3: What food do you like?
1. Pizza (25) 2. Dukbokki (22) 3. Sushi & Chicken (9) 5. Hamburgers (8)
Food discussions invariably invoke high passions from the students (Last year, there was a test when “I’m hungry” was the only sentence translated correctly by EVERY single student). And their palates crave an international array of dishes, as the results show. Oh, and what is dukbokki? Come to Korea and find out. Seriously, it’s worth it.
#4: What country do you like? (aside from Korea)
1. the USA (33) 2. Tommyland (26) 3. Japan (16) 4. England (10) 5. France (8)
The USA edged out my very own Tommyland (Congratulations, you’re here now!). As for Japan, it’s probably the most divisive answer on this survey. Many students loathe Japan for past war-time atrocities and current territorial debates, while other students love Japanese video games and comic books. It kind of seems to balance each other out in the minds of 6th grade students.
#5: What sport do you like?
1. Soccer (19) 2. Badminton (18) 3. Baseball (16) 4. Swimming (15) 5. Dodgeball (9)
The boys went with soccer. The girls went with badminton. The boys eked out the win.
#6: What singer or group do you like?
1. Big Bang (48) 2. SS501 (20) 3. Girls’ Generation (13) 4. Super Junior (6) 5. the Wonder Girls (5)
Not surprisingly, it’s K-Pop at its poppiest, with Big Bang on top by a landslide. Western artists getting mentions were the following: the Beatles (2 votes), Michael Jackson (1), Jennifer Lopez (“Brave” got considerable airplay here) (1), and Stevie Wonder (1).
#7: What TV program do you like?
1. The Simpsons & Flying Family (14) 3. Two Days, One Night (10), 4. Impossible Challenge, Tooniverse, & Wife’s Temptation (8)
At the risk of sounding immodest, I take credit for a part ot the Simpsons’ popularity at my school. All the kids are aware that it’s my all-time favorite show. The rest of the choices, aside from Tooniverse, are all Korean programs. I’m not sure what “Wife’s Temptation” is, but I’m pretty sure the kids shouldn’t be watching that.
#8: What class do you like?
1. English (68) 2. P.E. (14) 3. Math (11) 4. History (10) 5. Music (8)
I assure you all that there was no physical coercion involved whatsoever. As for emotional manipulation… well, let’s just leave it at “No comment.”
#9: What book do you like?
1. Harry Potter (27) 2. Maple Story (14) 3. Comic books (13) 4. Three Kingdoms 5. Greek myths, Narnia, and Doraemon (3)
Harry Potter’s a phenomenon in Korea as it is anywhere (I have at least one “Harry” in just about every class; ditto for “Tommy”). I was glad to see the Narnia books get a few mentions. I was not as glad to see two students mention “Twilight.” Hmm.
#10: What season do you like?
1. Summer (37) 2. Fall (28) 3. Winter (25) 4. Spring (24)
I’m a bit baffled why summer came out on top. Summers are brutally hot and humid here, and the students’ summer vacation is only a couple of weeks long (their winter vacation is much longer). Still, the kids know what they like, just as they should.
And so, at their request and in their honor, here’s Big Bang with their signature hit, “Lies.”