Home > Employment, Health & Exercise > A streak of yellow about three centimetres wide

A streak of yellow about three centimetres wide

At the end of the day on Wednesday there was a meeting in the office that no one had told me about, to decide which students should level up. I’d already written my recommendations on a wad of printoffs listing every student at the hagwon and what classes they’d been in for the past year, and put it on the head teacher’s desk.

I came in late from my last class because I’d wanted to finish off whatever question we’d been working on. The meeting was in progress; no one said anything to me. I left the room and went to the computer room for a while. I went back and everyone was still facing the head teacher, who sits at the opposite end of the room to me – some of the teachers who sit at my bank of desks had moved closer to her. It was approaching the start of my taekwondo class. I waited until I had a reasonable margin to get there and get changed, and slipped out.

No one has subsequently said anything about it – although I have learned that our head foreign teacher, Jon, is quitting at the end of the month.

I went to taekwondo and discovered that, finally, the students who had been absent from taekwondo for the last few weeks had returned. And at the end of the class, my female teacher, Lee Sabeomnim, came out of the office carrying a yellow belt. She called me over and said I’d levelled up. I was kind of surprised (‘Jinjja?’ I asked (‘Really?’)), but also pleased – as you would be. There was no ceremony – she just took my white belt off me and tied the new one around my waist for me. Then told me to go and get changed.

The white belt I’d got with my dobok was new like the rest of the uniform, but this yellow belt is clearly used – it’s lost the stiffness of newness. It may be that both belts are intended for children, as they’re far too short to wrap twice around the waist as taekwondo belts are supposed to be. But it may just be black belts (and the prior red/black belt) that are are supposed to go around the body twice.

I think it might be a while before I get one of those.

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