Edward and Jacob were providing a little insight into what I can only assume are their parents' views on Japan today. If you've taught in Korea, you'll already have an idea of where this is heading. If you haven't, well, this is not going to be pretty.
(As an aside, I had to correct their understanding of the word 'lesbian' at the start of the class. Apparently the message that it has to be two girls, rather than a girl a boy with a girl's name, hadn't quite gotten through.)
So. Japan. The images coming out of there are pretty insane, and it's right freaking next door, so I feel lucky that we've been totally unaffected in Korea. But apparently some of my students have felt more than lucky. They're pretty damn jazzed about the whole affair. Jacob started the conversation by saying that he thought it was 'pretty great'. I think I started to ask how he could possibly say that, and they started to tell me that Japan did some terrible things to Korea. (Maybe, as a teacher here, I'd missed out on that little nugget of information.) Then Edward chimed in with 'Jesus is punishing them for doing such terrible things.'
And my jaw just about hit the floor. Here's a kid I know to be smart and open-minded, and who has shown very little of the spoiled behavior I see in a lot of the wealthier students. Woah. I honestly don't remember everything I said after that. I do know that I said it was unchristian, and I plan to apologize for saying that. I do remember saying that being angry was quite a different thing from wishing death and suffering on another person. And I remember saying that Christianity is about forgiveness. And I do not plan to apologize for that. I do not plan on avoiding the topic in class, because I feel sick when I think of adults telling children that any kind of god would punish innocent people for something their grandparents did. Something their government HAS apologized for.
There are a lot of things about Korean culture that I think we expats can be too harsh on. Hating Japan is not one of them. It is unacceptable to me to raise a child with hate. Especially an old hate. If everyone hated me because of things either or both of my countries have done, I would find myself pretty lonely. Thank goodness I'm not.