In the United States, classes start when the bell rings. In Korea, classes begin when the Korean teacher walks into the room, which — let’s be honest — is usually a few minutes after the bell rings.
I’ve often wondered about this cultural difference. Are the teachers just lazy? Or are they really that busy? Maybe they are just giving the students a few extra minutes to settle?
Today, my question was answered. I can now tell you beyond any shadow of a doubt why Korean teachers wait until a few minutes after the bell rings to head to class. It’s so they don’t catch anyone with their pants down.
Let me spell that out for you. I literally walked into a classroom — full of students — about five minutes before the bell and found one boy in the front of the room with no pants on.
His shocked face, my shocked face, my laughter. … I can’t even explain what was happening. I don’t know what was happening. I don’t want to know what was happening.
I said that I needed to get some supplies as I turned my head, but then I realized that the pants were not going back on. I think the student was too shocked to move. So I quickly fled back to the teachers office and burst into laughter as I told all the other teachers my story. I decided to wait until after the bell rang to venture back into that classroom.
My co-teacher told me the same thing happened last year to a female Korean teacher.
And now I have my answer to the question asked by every native English teacher who comes to Korea. Why do the teachers always head to class late? It’s because they don’t want to see their students with their pants down.