I Almost Worked for a Cult 25

A dash and an injury

The back-up plan was in place. It was solid. We were in agreement, if they tried any more funny shit we were gone – bye bye Korea!

We stayed in the PC Bang until a little after 2pm. Four hours should have been ample time for Mrs Joy and her henchmen to deliver the furniture to the apartment.

As we got closer to our building a blue half cab truck slowly approached us. It came to an abrupt halt beside us. The driver had a face that was so wrinkled I was convinced that he had been conceived, slept, and spent all of his spare time in an accordion. Either that or he was old as fuck. He rolled his window down and started shouting at us in Korean and pointing at our building. I couldn’t understand a fucking word he was saying. That was my fault, not his. Although, I had an inkling he wasn’t in the best of humours. I wasn’t really in the mood to engage with this accordion man, so I just gave him my biggest fake smile and a double thumbs up. Herself just completely ignored him and walked on.

We entered the building and cautiously made our way up the stairs. Maybe the old guy had been warning us? “Get out while you still can! They’re in the house! They brought anointing oil and a young priest! It’s an exorcism! Run, goddammit!”

Nah, I think he was screaming at us because he’d been the one given the shitty task of dragging the crap that had been left outside our door. It looked like all he had delivered was the outer frames for the beds. Perhaps the rest of the stuff was inside?

It wasn’t. There was no furniture or appliances in the apartment. Mrs Joy had been inside while we were gone. She had left a second bible, the wedding dress and the shoes in the middle of the floor beside the bag of shit. She had also gone to the trouble of leaving a note:

MJ – Your furniture is outside. You can bring it in. Church is at ten o’clock tomorrow morning at the school. I will talk to you then.

I handed the note to herself.

M – Well, that tells me where the priorities are dude.

H – I can’t believe she’s done this.

M – Really?

H – Well, no. I can believe it. What now?

M – Fuck this. Let’s go.

I propped open the door to the apartment with the new bible. Herself helped me attach the two large rucksacks to my person. I looked like an “early-thirties obese ninja turtle” with one rucksack on my front and the other in my back. Gobshite in a full-shell.

M – Can you manage the wheelie suitcase and a small bag?

H – Yeah. I’ll do my best.

M – Oh, shit. Where will we put the keys?

H – I’ve an idea.

She took the keys and dropped them in to the bag of human shit that Mrs Joy had conveniently left behind. A punishment fit for the crime? Sure, why not?

I’m not a big believer in karma. I don’t think that good things come to those who wait. Fate, luck; all that stuff is bullshit. Life is random. Shit happens. That’s what I believe.

Although, when herself badly hurt her back going down the stairs, I began to question my belief system. Perhaps it was wrong. We probably should have returned the keys.

We didn’t really have time to assess the damage properly at the time. I took the suitcase and herself carried the small bag, which still caused her pain. We took the luggage to the train station and waited for our train.

It was a very nervy two hour wait for that train back to civilization. Herself was in agony, and we were terrified that the cult would get us.

We were now officially on the run.

Fugitives.

Next time: Paralysis and analysis

I Almost Worked for a Cult 23

We gotta go now!

( Dialogue key M – myself, H – herself, MJ – Mrs Joy)

I was shaking. I think I was in shock. It must have been shock. I felt freezing cold all of a sudden, and my arms were going numb. Maybe it was a stroke?

I walked around the apartment. No air conditioning unit was installed. The bathroom was fucking rank. Herself opened the fridge and a cock roach scuttled past her feet. The kitchen had no cooker, or any appliances for that matter. All it had was a sink and a few plastic cupboards.

I grabbed herself by the arm, told her to follow me, turned to Mrs Joy and said, “Give us a minute.”

I guided herself up a couple of flights of stairs to get out of Mrs Joy’s earshot.

M – Ok dude, we’re out of here. That’s all I can take.

H – Calm down. It’s bad, but just calm down. We’ll talk to her.

M – I’ll talk to her. We’re not staying here. The fucking state of the place! A bag of shit, like! A fucking bag of shit!!

H – Ok. Just take a breath before you do.

We went back down to the apartment. Mrs Joy wasn’t there. We waited for a few minutes and were about to leave when she arrived in the door with a large garment bag and a pair of hideous, white, women’s shoes.

MJ – This is your wedding dress. You can put it on now and see if it fits.

Herself jumped at Mrs Joy.

H – I will not be putting that dress on! Where the hell did you get that from?

MJ – It is my daughter-in-law’s. She is American. It is an American size.

I think that was supposed to be a reassuring comment, but it was delivered like a put down. I followed herself’s lead and got up in Mrs Joy’s grill.

M – Ok, this has gone too far. First of all, you can put that wedding dress back in your car. There will be no fucking wedding. Not on Monday, not the week after – never!

That’s right, I said fucking. I cursed at an old woman. I didn’t care. At that particular time, she represented every fucking mental thing that this school had done to us in the past week or so. I was letting out a few days of frustration. It felt good, man.

M – Here is what’s going to happen. We are going to leave until 2pm. In the meantime, there will be furniture delivered to this house. That means a bed, chairs, a table, and everything else that we need. You will have our contracts printed out for signature and on the table when we return. If you do not complete this, we will not be working for you. Do you understand?

Mrs Joy shook a cigarette out of her soft pack of Marlboro. She lit it, took a deep pull and said “Mm hmm” through squinted eyes. She turned on her heels and left myself and herself on our own.

H – Is she after leaving?

M – I think so.

I walked over to our balcony (oooh – luxury) and looked out on the road. I could see Mrs Joy’s Integra driving slowly in the direction of the school.

M – Yeah, she’s gone. We’ve a couple of hours. Let’s go find a PC bang.

H – Ok.

PC Bangs were 24 hour internet café’s. There was one in every street corner in Korea. Because we had no computer access (I broke my I-phone on week 2!) we relied heavily on the PC Bang to do our digital business.

We hadn’t openly said to each other that we were doing a runner, but at this stage we had each one foot out the door.

Next time: Doing a runner

I Almost Worked for a Cult 21

Moving on Out

We arrived in the town at 10am. Mrs Joy was there at the train station again to collect us.

It was some job trying to fit all our gear in to the boot (trunk, if you speak American) of her Honda Integra.

She drove us up a steep hill through a series of very narrow, dark streets. She pulled up outside a building that looked like a seven story cow-shed.

“This is your apartment!” she challenged.

We would reserve judgement until entering. We weren’t architectural snobs, in fact some of the nicest places we had been in Korea so far had looked like shit from the outside, but were magnificent internally. I don’t think the staff of Sunshine Academy knew the meaning of magnificent, unless it related to something Jesus allegedly said, but I’d have settled for adequate here.

Before we exited her car, Mrs Joy decided to have some fun. For some fucking ridiculous reason, if God exists only he/she knows why, Mrs Joy erratically reversed her car in to an oncoming jeep.

I was in the back seat and got a bit of a bang, nothing serious, just a slight fright more than anything else. Herself got a bit of a twinge in her back, but was fine. Mrs Joy didn’t show any emotion, or even ask if we were ok. Fucking battle-axe. She got out of the car to assess the carnage she had just caused.

The guy she had hit got out of the jeep. He was humongous! He was pointing at his bumper and began screaming and gesticulating wildly. He was going ballistic, he had every right to. Mrs Joy had reversed from the curb in to oncoming traffic without even looking. She was at fault here.

I had absolutely no idea what the guy was saying, but he was mad as hell. For the first few moments Mrs Joy didn’t react at all, and then she did something incredibly weird. She took out a large crucifix from her pocket, held it out in front of her and knelt on the ground. She started to bawl and shake uncontrollably. Floods of tears streamed down her face.

The situation changed immediately after this piece of performance art. The driver of the jeep stopped shouting at Mrs Joy, looked at us apologetically, got in to his jeep and drove off.

As soon as he was out of sight, Mrs Joy got back to her feet and resumed her usual emotionless expression.

“Take out your luggage. We will go to the house now.”

This entire incident from start to finish took about fifteen minutes. It felt like a week. I have never experienced something so odd in my life. I have seen people be hysterical at the scene of minor traffic accidents. Sure, we’ve all seen that. I’ve witnessed a nun apologize for hitting a cyclist near St Stephen’s Green. I’ve even witnessed a person turn on the waterworks to get their own way, I might have even done it myself as a small child (or spoiled adult). Mrs Joy behaved like she was exorcising a demon, rather than apologizing for crashing in to somebody’s car. It was just bizarre.

I looked at herself. She had a look of fear and bewilderment on her face.

We both laughed.

Baffled laughter – the fucking soundtrack to Korea.

Next time: Time to break free

I Almost Worked for a Cult 18

Better put a ring on it

On the Friday morning of our first week, we were greeted by a very hoarse and pale Mr Yun.

He explained his condition before the morning prayer:

“You will have to excuse me this morning. I was partaking in a revival for the past few days. Mr Boyle will lead our morning prayers.”

Mr Boyle nodded graciously and prayed that God would heal Mr Yun’s voice. Yun smiled and took out a lozenge and popped it in his mouth, just to be sure.

How did I see this? Well, I had not been closing my eyes during “prayers” since the first meeting on Monday. Why? Well, I didn’t trust the cunts, that’s why!

I mean, this was a guy that was away for two days at a revival? A revival of what? Fucking Supertramp? This was evangelical shit. Events organized to convert (brainwash) new members of the church (cult) and bring them closer to Jesus (take all their money). No way was I closing my eyes around these lunatics!

After the meeting Mr Yun asked us to stay back. Great, I thought, more fucking wedding shit. He sat down in front of us.

“So guys, I think you should go out today and buy some rings for your wedding.”

Ha? Rings? Did this gowl fall off the stage at his revival and get a concussion?

“Excuse me?” asked herself.

Mr Yun chuckled “We can’t have a wedding without rings!”

I’d had enough of this bullshit. We were almost stone broke, in a strange land on the other side of the world, sitting in front of a smiling maniac who was suggesting that we buy rings for a wedding that we hadn’t fucking agreed to. If I had ever been exposed to a high concentration of gamma radiation as a child, it would be at this point that I’d have turned my purple trousers into rags with my exploding green muscles.

I put a hand up. “Listen Mr Yun, we are not spending money on rings for this so called wedding. We haven’t agreed to this. This entire suggestion is beyond ridiculous.”

Mr Yun inhaled, smiled, and turned around to herself.

“So, Mrs Joy has found a wedding dress for you and some nice shoes. Do you have time today to try it on?”

Herself blanched.

“A wedding dress? No, I do not have time to try on a dress. Please furnish us with our contracts and stop asking us to get married. It is not going to happen.”

Yun considered this. He took a step back and reloaded his brainwash shotgun with some guilt pellets.

“But everyone is invited. All the children are excited. All the teachers have prepared. You will get married before school and then teach your classes for the rest of the day.”

Wow. Way to upsell.

“You should not have invited anyone to a wedding or any event that we haven’t given consent to. You can go back to all these people and tell them it isn’t happening.” I roared.

The prick completely ignored me again and spoke directly to herself. It was an impressive technique to be fair. Don’t even acknowledge something that goes against your views. A proper fundamentalist.

“Your apartment will be ready tomorrow.”

Ah, he was using shock and awe tactics now. Clever.

“Mrs Joy will meet you in the morning and take you there.”

“And what about our contracts?” asked herself.

Yun waved his hand, “Talk to Mrs Joy about that, she looks after contracts.”

He turned to me.

“You look upset. What is wrong?”

Was this guy a fucking idiot, or just acting the bollox? I got up out of my seat to leave.

“I’ve work to do.” I walked out of the room and went straight to my classroom. It probably made me look like a petulant child, but I had to get out of there. I had such a strong urge to punch that man in the face. Give him a proper haymaker.

Herself followed me in to the room, locked the door and drew the blinds.

We had to hash this out immediately. Things had really gotten out of hand.

Next time: Crisis Talks

I Almost Worked for a Cult 18

Better put a ring on it

On the Friday morning of our first week, we were greeted by a very hoarse and pale Mr Yun.

He explained his condition before the morning prayer:

“You will have to excuse me this morning. I was partaking in a revival for the past few days. Mr Boyle will lead our morning prayers.”

Mr Boyle nodded graciously and prayed that God would heal Mr Yun’s voice. Yun smiled and took out a lozenge and popped it in his mouth, just to be sure.

How did I see this? Well, I had not been closing my eyes during “prayers” since the first meeting on Monday. Why? Well, I didn’t trust the cunts, that’s why!

I mean, this was a guy that was away for two days at a revival? A revival of what? Fucking Supertramp? This was evangelical shit. Events organized to convert (brainwash) new members of the church (cult) and bring them closer to Jesus (take all their money). No way was I closing my eyes around these lunatics!

After the meeting Mr Yun asked us to stay back. Great, I thought, more fucking wedding shit. He sat down in front of us.

“So guys, I think you should go out today and buy some rings for your wedding.”

Ha? Rings? Did this gowl fall off the stage at his revival and get a concussion?

“Excuse me?” asked herself.

Mr Yun chuckled “We can’t have a wedding without rings!”

I’d had enough of this bullshit. We were almost stone broke, in a strange land on the other side of the world, sitting in front of a smiling maniac who was suggesting that we buy rings for a wedding that we hadn’t fucking agreed to. If I had ever been exposed to a high concentration of gamma radiation as a child, it would be at this point that I’d have turned my purple trousers into rags with my exploding green muscles.

I put a hand up. “Listen Mr Yun, we are not spending money on rings for this so called wedding. We haven’t agreed to this. This entire suggestion is beyond ridiculous.”

Mr Yun inhaled, smiled, and turned around to herself.

“So, Mrs Joy has found a wedding dress for you and some nice shoes. Do you have time today to try it on?”

Herself blanched.

“A wedding dress? No, I do not have time to try on a dress. Please furnish us with our contracts and stop asking us to get married. It is not going to happen.”

Yun considered this. He took a step back and reloaded his brainwash shotgun with some guilt pellets.

“Bust everyone is invited. All the children are excited. All the teachers have prepared. You will get married before school and then teach your classes for the rest of the day.”

Wow. Way to upsell.

“You should not have invited anyone to a wedding or any event that we haven’t given consent to. You can go back to all these people and tell them it isn’t happening.” I roared.

The prick completely ignored me again and spoke directly to herself. It was an impressive technique to be fair. Don’t even acknowledge something that goes against your views. A proper fundamentalist.

“Your apartment will be ready tomorrow.”

Ah, he was using shock and awe tactics now. Clever.

“Mrs Joy will meet you in the morning and take you there.”

“And what about our contracts?” asked herself.

Yun waved his hand, “Talk to Mrs Joy about that, she looks after contracts.”

He turned to me.

“You look upset. What is wrong?”

Was this guy a fucking idiot, or just acting the bollox? I got up out of my seat to leave.

“I’ve work to do.” I walked out of the room and went straight to my classroom. It probably made me look like a petulant child, but I had to get out of there. I had such a strong urge to punch that man in the face. Give him a proper haymaker.

Herself followed me in to the room, locked the door and drew the blinds.

We had to hash this out immediately. Things had really gotten out of hand.

Next time: Crisis Talks

I Almost Worked for a Cult 17

Something resembling normality

Mr Park and Mr Yun walked on with hope in their hearts, while myself and herself walked through a storm in to our shitty classrooms. We had to begin our lesson plans.

I’d pretty much reached my quota of crazy for the year, so rather than doing actual work, I spent the first two hours building forts with the textbooks on my desk.

My desk was a piece of shit rickety table that was scarred with the frustrated carvings of its previous owner. He was either in to heavy metal, or a proponent of population control; Hatebreed was scrawled in a number of places deep in the pine. They weren’t in the Christian rock genre, so I suppose they were ok as far as the school were concerned.

We had lunch with the staff at 1pm. This time it was a traditional Korean dish, bibimbap, I think. ‘Twas grand, but it was no fillet of beef, I tell thee.

Mr Boyle joined myself and herself at our table. He was such a nice man, but an incredibly messy eater. His shirt was covered in most of his meal by the time he had finished. I’m a bit squeamish around messy eaters. I always imagine a bit of their meal falling out of their mouths and landing on my plate, and I’ll accidentally eat it and catch some kind of debilitating disease. This then ruins my appetite, and I love eating. Eating is great craic.

The rest of the day passed fairly uneventfully.

Wednesday and Thursday were spent familiarizing ourselves with planners, work schedules and exam preparation techniques. My general peace was interrupted every now and then with a distant operatic blast of You’ll Never Walk Alone coming from the music room down the hall.

It was the only reminder of the potential wedding. Mr Yun hadn’t been in the school for the past two days, so we assumed that maybe he had forgotten about it – the wedding, not the school.

Mrs Joy hadn’t been knocking about either. I assumed that she and her modified car gang were probably at some drifting event in the mountains. Maybe they’d fallen out with Vin Diesel again over something.

Her absence meant that we still had not been furnished with an official contract of employment. I suppose basic office admin was difficult to carry out when you were doing handbrakes in your Honda Integra.

It was great being able to focus on actual work and not being constantly distracted by Mr Yun’s shotgun wedding. We were both really looking forward to the kids starting on Monday. Our new careers as teachers were about to begin!

Sure, we were only qualified to teach English as a foreign language, and not specific subjects like we were now doing, but that was the most exciting part of it! I’ve always loved history and English. Being able to classify myself as an English and history teacher really instilled a sense of pride in me for some reason. Maybe it was because I had some good teachers for those subjects back in Saint Pat’s, lads that I respected and wanted to emulate. I don’t know. Anyway, I wasn’t qualified, I was probably about to ruin these kid’s lives. Finish off the job the cult had started.

I was really looking forward to getting cracking on Monday, making shite of the children’s futures.

The next two days events would drastically change this outlook.

Next time: Better put a ring on it

I Almost Worked for a Cult 16

You’ll Never Walk Alone

That afternoon was spent cleaning up and organizing our classrooms. There was a lot of work to do, so we didn’t really get to speak to each other until walking to the train that evening.

She asked me how I felt about everything. I decided that I wouldn’t just focus on the negatives.

Here’s a breakdown of my summations:

 The whole bible debacle and morning prayer routine were bizarre.

 Lunch was great.

 The fact that we were teaching creationism was ridiculous.

 Lunch was fantastic.

 Teaching kids that James Joyce was burning in hell was outrageous.

 Lunch was wonderful.

We purposefully avoided talking about our impending (doom) nuptials until disembarking from the train.

“A wedding girl. What the fuck was that all about?”

“I don’t know boy! It isn’t happening though. It’s really fucking mad!”

We were in quite the pickle. If we flat out refused to go through with this crack-pot Jesus freak’s idea of a wedding, he may renege on the job offer, but if we kept schtum and didn’t outwardly commit to anything, maybe we could sign our contract and then have a reasonable conversation regarding our opposition to forced marriages.

Our final decision was to say nothing till you hear more. Bury our heads in the sand. The Irish way of dealing with horrific circumstances. We assumed that honest hard-working church folk would be level-headed, flexible and open to negotiation.

Nope.

Not a chance.

Day two started as day one had with another passive aggressive prayer session. Mr Boyle asked Father God to help Mr Yun make the right decisions for the school. He asked Jesus to guide Mr Yun’s hand while planning for the year ahead.

These guys were using Jesus as a wall to hide behind while throwing insults at each other. Maybe I could ask Jesus to cancel the wedding. Or perhaps I could tell Mr Yun that Jesus came to me in a dream and said that the wedding was a bad idea, and for Mr Yun to get the fuck out of our personal lives. Perhaps he would respond to a request being made in the language that he was most used to.

Mr Yun asked us to stay behind again after the bible session. The bible session that we still had no bible for. A young Korean male teacher stayed back with us. Mr Yun introduced him as Mr Park (fake name of course). Mr Park was the music teacher. He was wearing a Spurs jersey, they were well supported in Korea because of the success of Son Heung-min.

Mr Park spoke with a perfect American accent. Apparently he had lived there for most of his life, returning to Korea as a teenager with his parents.

“I understand you’re a soccer fan?” he smiled.

I answered that I liked it just fine. Mr Yun’s presence was draining my enthusiasm for the game. The cunt was beaming, he had the satisfied look of a successful matchmaker on his face. A face that I would gladly have punched.

Mr Yun proclaimed “Mr Park is a very talented opera singer. He will be singing a song at your wedding on Monday.”

For fuck sake. The cunt now had the band booked. Jesus Christ. Was he going to surprise us with an organized lock-in for the second day next?

I turned to herself, and for the first time since landing did something that I considered previously to be quite rude; I spoke to her in Irish. I asked her why the fuck was this guy assuming that the wedding was going ahead like we had agreed to it. We hadn’t! She shrugged and said to wait until after to talk to Mr Yun. This really confused the lads. Park was giving Yun a “What’s this shit?” look, whereas Yun had a bemused look on his face.

Mr Park repeated “I understand you like soccer. I will sing the Liverpool song at your wedding, by Gerry and the Pacemakers.”

He then proceeded to blast out a deep, rich, operatic version of You’ll Never Walk Alone.

I was stunned. First of all for being accused of being a Liverpool fan, secondly, the man’s talent just blew me away. Mainly though, and most importantly, Mr Yun had casually mentioned that the wedding was going ahead.

Nope.

Not a chance.

Next time: Something resembling normality