KOREAN COMPETITIVENESS

Sometimes I get competitive, but usually when it doesn’t really matter. Like in board games, scavenger hunts, and let’s not forget claw machines. Most Koreans I’ve met are really competitive, which is a direct reflection of how people might view Korean society. I call it Korean competitiveness.

I’ve noticed an increase in my competitive nature since moving here. I blame Korea for making me this way. And over the past few months I’ve developed a need to try to beat Koreans in everything, but act like I’m not trying in the process. I call it my quiet competitiveness.

Staff volleyball games are a really big deal at my school, and at most public schools throughout the country. I haven’t played much because the teachers at Bibong Elementary are really competitive, and I’d hate to be the one that messes up.

To be honest, I typically throw a fit in my head whenever it’s mandatory for all staff to attend a game—usually at the beginning and end of each semester. Why? Because I know I’ll be forced to play if I go.

Sure enough, the moment I entered the gym yesterday I was told to join the game. It didn’t matter if it had already started. My vice principal gave me a few pointers, and the rest is history. Our team won every game! Being tall in Korea really helps feed my gentle aggressiveness.

Feeling rather high after my team dominated, I decided to go for an evening bike ride after school. On the way home from Cheongju, I found myself in a cutthroat race with some random Korean guy on the bike trail. I won, but barely.

Shortly after our spontaneous competition my bike slipped and I flew off, landing on my back in a giant puddle of mud. Good thing he didn't see that. And good thing I found my glasses in the murk. Served me right, and put me back where I belong—on the ground.

Rumor around the school today was I’m a “volleyball star”. How do these things happen? So, maybe I tried a little, didn’t fail, and even had a lot of fun. But, now there’s going to be pressure for me to perform, and I’ll probably be required to play all the time.

I have a feeling my quiet competitiveness can’t hide for much longer against all this Korean competitiveness.

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