Mandatory Fun Time

It’s the third week into the new semester (spring semester is “first” in Korea) and MT is starting up for each academic department.  It stands for “Membership Training” and it’s basically an excuse for professors and students to get drunk together in the woods or on top of a mountain.

Really it is.  When I first started teaching at this college my boss explained MT to me, and how I’d have to reschedule classes when MT-time came around.  He told me that it’s a team-building exercise for each department.  I snarkily asked him if it wasn’t just a large-scale hoe-shik (weekly drinking party Korean workers have with their bosses), and with a straight face he responded that yeah, basically it’s two days of binge drinking.  And in Korean culture, you can say no but it’s kind of a social faux pas not to engage in mandatory fun-time.

So chalk it up as another stupid-foreigner dodges a bullet kind of thing.  I’m technically “in” a department here, but as an English instructor I’m exempt from mandatory fun-time.  I like drinking just fine, but I can’t stand hoe-shik and/or hoe-shik culture.  Better yet, my boss is one of those rare-ish Korean males who doesn’t enjoy alcohol, so we don’t do hoe-shik as an English department either.  Sometimes we go out with our adult students and have dinner and a few beers, but I’ve never felt under any pressure to drink when I didn’t want to.  (One of my co-workers is a born-again teetotaler anyhow, so it all works out.)

So come Monday I’ll have to deal with a pack of groggy, hung-over students, and I’ll just be grateful that I wasn’t involved.

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