For the Busy Business-Parent

Whimsical Bedtime Stories for Children of All Ages

The Great Eel Race

Elementary School Field Day is fun for some kids, but others might wish they were doing something else. (After all, not everybody is wild about running in races and playing tug-of-war.) That's probably the case in your own school, and it's the same in the country of South Korea, as well. This is the honest to goodness real story of one young student's Field Day experience in Busan, South Korea. The student's name is Aeran. She's a pretty smart kid. We think you're going to like her story.

Ten year old Aeran dreaded Field Day at Seong Nam Elementary School in Busan, South Korea. She wasn't fast, and the other kids teased her awkward stance and the way she flapped her arms when she ran.

Aeran thought she would much rather be inside painting a picture or doing math problems.

Throughout the warm October afternoon, Aeran hobbled through the relay race, panted through the long distance course, and was dragged along the ground in a hard fought tug of war match.

"Students, line up for the next contest!" the teachers called. "For this race, you will run 25 meters (about 82 feet) to the buckets in the field. Pick up the item you find there, then run the remaining 75 meters (about 246 feet) to the finish line. The first one to cross with the object is the winner."

The children took their places on the starting line. Aeran adjusted her gym uniform and stepped in beside the others with a sigh. She waited only a few seconds before the starter pistol echoed in her ears. Aeran did her best, but she still trailed at the very back of the pack.

She knew something strange was happening when the first runners to reach the buckets squealed and yelped. Other kids hopped backwards and pointed.

Swimming in the buckets were 6" long, live, slimy, baby eels! A few of the braver kids reached in to catch the swimming creatures, but the eels wiggled out of their hands and plopped back into the containers.

Arms and eels flew everywhere, and children bumped into each other in the confusion.

By the time Aeran reached her bucket, she had a plan. She cupped her hands and scooped out an elver (a young eel).

Instead of grasping it tightly, she placed it gently onto the ground and sprinkled dirt on top of it. The dirt stuck to the slippery eel's mucus covered skin, allowing her to pick it up without slipping out of her hands.

As fast as she could, Aeran raced towards the finish line. Some kids tried to follow, but the slippery eels popped out of their hands, slowing them down.

The finish line drew close. Teachers and classmates cheered her on. Three more steps, and... Aeran plunked the eel into the finish line bucket!

A cry went out! "Manse! Cham joha, Aeran! (Hooray! That was AWESOME, Aeran!)

First Place in the Eel Race!"

Eels hatch from eggs. Baby (larval) eels are flat and transparent (clear). A young eel is known as an ELVER. Eels have long and narrow bodies like snakes. Eels are a popular food in many countries around the world, but they come with a warning. Eels must ALWAYS be served cooked, not raw. That's because eels' blood is poisonous, which discourages other creatures of the sea from eating them. A very small amount of eel blood is enough to kill somebody. It can actually stop a person's heart from beating, so that's the reason why eels should never ever be eaten raw. On the other hand, cooked eels are thought of as a very tasty treat and they are frequently served either grilled or barbequed. The bowl of cooked elvers shown below looks a bit like a bowl of spaghetti, doesn't it?



Korea, "Land of the Morning Calm," combines ancient Oriental tradition with modern technology. Seoul, (pronounced Sole) the capital of South Korea, is a sprawling metropolis where hyper-modern skyscrapers, high-tech subways and pop culture meet 5000 year old Buddhist temples, palaces and street markets. Most people prefer Western clothes like suits and jeans, but traditional clothing is worn by many during national holidays. In Korean culture, education is the key to success in life. To many Korean parents, the education of their children outweighs all other considerations, and they will make tremendous sacrifices to make sure that their children get the best education possible. Rice is the staple of the Korean diet and appears at almost all meals. A typical meal includes rice, some type of soup, sometimes a main dish of meat or pork or poultry, and various side dishes. Nowadays, many people eat more and more Western, Japanese, and Chinese food, and pizza has become popular among the younger generation.

The Great Eel Race
Tina Holt
Copyright 2016 - All Rights Reserved

About the Author:
In Tina Holt's story, The Great Eel Race, she recounts her friend's elementary school Field Day experience in Busan, South Korea, circa 1975. Tina describes herself as a children's writer, stay-at-home mother, cat-wrangling, nature-loving, cheese enthusiast. She tells us she has a particular fondness for invertebrates. Tina's greatest wish is to see an octopus in the wild. Tina lives with her husband and three daughters in a 110 year old Dutch Colonial house that's probably not haunted. Drop Tina Holt a line and tell her how much you enjoyed her story!

The Octopus is an Intertebrate
(Invertebrates are a group of animals that have no backbone,
unlike animals such as reptiles, amphibians, fish,
birds and mammals who all have a backbone.)

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