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The South Man Gate

June 30, 2011

Reminds me of my crotch.

Travelling on the bus to school yesterday, I had not long boarded and was standing patiently in the aisle when one of my students, a boy in the 2nd grade who was seated to my right, tapped me on the arm and said something initially unintelligible. I gave the lad a patient “I don’t know what the fuck you just said” kind of frown and he began excitedly repeating the word whilst gesturing at his crotch

“Jipper! Jipper!”
My fly was down. I thanked the observant young man and acknowledged the hilarity that this prompted amongst his companions (many of my students ride this same bus). Later in the day, whilst teaching another 2nd grade class of kids, none of whom had been on that bus, I was greeted by a beaming boy who pointed at me and exclaimed, “David teacher! jipper! ha ha ha ha!”

This morning I climbed on the bus to instantly see the same boy from yesterday. I reassured him that I was in a far more meticulous state of dress today although I noticed that, upon seeing me, he immediately glanced at my crotch. I have to hand it to the kid; he only has my best interests at heart.

The whole episode put me in mind of an amusing Korean term that I first encountered, again from my students, a little over a year ago. A colloquial Korean term for a man’s zipper fly is to refer to it as one’s Namdaemun/남대문. This is the common name for the Sungnyemun/숭례문 gate in the centre of Seoul, designated first amongst the National Treasures of Korea and currently undergoing repair and restoration work following a devastating arson attack in 2008. Sungnyemun is the real name, meaning “Gate of Exalted Ceremonies” but the occupying, imperialist Japanese pigdogs of the early 20th century didn’t like this and pushed for it to be changed to something more plain and unassuming as part of their overall fetish for stomping all over the Korean Kulture of the time. Namdaemun translates simply as “south gate”. There is a corresponding Dongdaemun/동대문 (“east gate”) and there was also a Seodaemun/서대문 (“west gate”) though it has since been demolished with the name being retained to refer to the surrounding area only. The usage of Namdaemun to refer to one’s fly is based around a Korean play on words for the prefix “Nam” is used to denote both “south” and “man/male”. Hence your Namdaemun is your “man gate” as well as your south gate.

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