Monday, October 08, 2007

Ebony and Ivory (Brown and Yellow Remix)

Via our Mexiphiliac friends in Korea comes this Washington Post article to give us hope that, under the right conditions, Koreans and Mexicans can live together in perfect harmony...or at least set aside their differences long enough to sell groceries to white Southerners:

Korean Corner grocery in Silver Spring holds Spanish lessons each Tuesday night for its Korean staff. The store's owner hopes the lessons will help Korean employees work more efficiently with their Spanish co-workers.

In order to communicate with his staff, James "Jaime" Han, whose cleaning business employs 62 Hispanic workers at $7 an hour, took two years of Spanish lessons from Young Kil Cho, a pastor and member of the Good Spoon. It is a religious group based in Northern Virginia whose mission has become to bridge the cultural divide between Korean employers and their Hispanic workers.

On a recent scorching Tuesday afternoon, day laborers gathered at an industrial intersection of south Arlington in paint-splattered jeans and work boots, listening to Cho teach expressions the laborers could use to get a job.

"Yo cualquier trabajo!" (I do anything!)" the men, immigrants from Central and South America, repeat after their teacher.

They repeat the phrase again, this time in Korean.

"Muo-dun-ji he-yo!" they say slowly in a chorus with near-perfect pronunciation.

As it happens, we just this evening witnessed a large group of Korean executives (we're guessing they're with Samsung) carousing with their Mexican hosts in the midst of what passes for a pub crawl around here. Man, you get a couple tequilas in these boys and they start to remind you of that Asian kid from Sixteen Candles.

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