Blog 22: Field Trip to the DMZ

May 14, 2009 at 3:24 am (Uncategorized)

A field trip to the DMZ would always be a gloomy trip.  The sad reality of our split country is strongly felt there. 

Even I, who has almost no personal connection with North Korea itself, feels uncomfortable and sad   at the fact that what used to be whole is not anymore.  We are the only country left that is split in the world, after Germany’s recent reunition.  I find it a shame that we only weakly attempt to reunite, and some don’t wish to reunite at all.  As the last generation that remembers our family members in the North die out, and the 21st century holds more and more superficial ideals, it becomes more and more difficult to reunite.

I find it hard to related to the North Korean refugee students, as I was born in a normal South Korean family without any significant financial problems.  I was never seperated from my family for a long time, and when I was seperated, I always had a way to contact them.  Hence I can only imagine their pain.  To not be able to meet family members is bad enough, but to not even know if they are alive or not!  That idea is almost to big to grasp. 

I think I would rather not visit the DMZ if I was a North Korean refugee, only because I would not like to be painfully reminded that I cannot see my family.  And the closeness of North Korea would make me frustrated and want to simply run across the useless border.


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April 9, 2009 at 11:29 am (Uncategorized)

Distortion of the human figure

Distortion of the human figure

Bolgen- Denmark

Bolgen- Denmark

E. E. Cummings

The first, the famous grasshopper poem, visually and verbally scrambles the letters of the grasshopper’s name in three different ways, turning a common insect into three exotic beasts.

                      a)s w(e loo)k
                    S                                         a
                      rIvInG                   .gRrEaPsPhOs)




Breaks tradition with geometric shapes

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Hagwons next to Colleges, and the Loss of Ethics

December 12, 2008 at 12:45 pm (Uncategorized)

I was always scared of the idea of college, but that first article just managed to give my fear a harder push.  It is not necessarily that I am afraid of not being able to communicate in English; English is my first language and shouldn’t be a problem.  What I am more afraid about is the amount of challenging work we receive in college, but having no one around to help me with it.  Going to hagwon is the norm in Korea, and not being able to attend those hagwons may make me a bit nervous.  Hagwon has now become a psychological comfort to me; if I didn’t understand something, I would be able to easily ask a hagwon teacher for help.  Some may argue that I could ask for help from friends, family, and professors, but honestly, it feels so much more comfortable to pay someone to help you.  Friends would probably be busy doing their own homework, family members would probably not know half the things explained to them, and professors might be busy grading.  It really is sad to realize that we have all become more and more dependant on hagwons, to the point that nearly half of the Korean students are dropping out.  Not only is it a waste of time and money on their part, it is also a bad representation of other students who DO deserve to get into college, thus lowering our chances of receiving a good higher education.  

Cheating is a very dangerous habit to pick up, because like drugs, it can lead to an addiction.  It works in a cycle.  You cheat on a test because you had no idea what the questions were asking, and get a good grade for it.  You feel good about it, and then forget about the test.  The next test date rolls around, and you take the test but you realize you don’t know even more answers to questions because you cheated off the previous ones.  So then the circle spirals in intensity, and before you know it you hit rock bottom.  This is the same with lying; when you lie you have to tell another lie to fit that lie, which leads to other lies that you have to remember whilst making up even more new lies.  It is surprising to hear that these habits are being increasingly picked up; you would think that students would learn to live honestly if they saw a fellow peer get busted once in a while.  Apparently not.  Perhaps the reason the lying rate is soaring is because of the lack of morals teens seem to have these days.  Or perhaps it is because of the declining religious beliefs, be it Buddhism, Christianity, or any other religion with a set of morals.

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The Warrior Tradition

December 9, 2008 at 12:13 pm (Uncategorized)

  1. What are some elements of the “warrior tradition”?

Some elements of the “warrior tradition” have been used over and over again they are now stereotyped.  Many warriors, very much like in woman warrior, always fight to avenge loved ones.  Fa Mulan in woman warrior is trained as a young child to avenge her family from rich corrupted Barons.  Similarly, in The House of Flying Daggers, the main woman character is driven to kill a man to avenge her Flying Daggers clan.  The idea of revenge is deep set in Asian culture.  The craziest revenge movie I’ve seen was Kill Bill hands down. 

2.      How is the natural world depicted in relation to martial arts?

The natural world is depicted as part of the warrior in relation to martial arts.  Most prominent in China, the idea of chi rules the methods and techniques of combat.  The warrior uses chi to fight his opponent, it can be seen as energy flowing through his veins.  Chi can be collected through meditation and deep concentration. 

3.      How are gender roles important to the scenes we watched?

Gender roles are extremely important to most stories, but they seems to play a bigger part in the scenes we watched in class.  In The House of Flying Daggers, the blind woman at first works at a high-class whore house, entertaining rich men.  In this scene the gender roles become prominent.  The one man in the room dominates all the other women in the room.  All of their attention is focused on his entertainment and well-being.  When he tells them something they listen attentively, and obey every word he says.  This seen portrays the higher worth of the man that everyone simply accepts.  In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon gender roles and stereotypes are spotted when the woman is dressed as a burglar, but everyone chasing after her assumes she obviously is a man. Women are expected to be quiet and at home.  They are to have no part in manly rituals.

4.    What else caught your eye or is worth noting?

I thought the most entertaining and interesting parts of the scenes we watched were the total annihilation of the rules of physics.  Beans could be bounced to and fro multiple times, bamboo shoots would sway and bend, momentum out of whack.  Chinese martial arts movies are always interesting because the women always possess super powers.  

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The Woman Warrior at 30

December 6, 2008 at 9:52 am (Uncategorized)

The Woman Warrior surprised me very much; I’ve never read a book like that in my life.  As the article pointed out, it was hard for me to determine what type of story this book was.  Is it even possible to categorize this book into a singular genre?  Shouldn’t it just be called a mixture of a biography, fiction, and memoir?  

Maxime Hong obviously was not that much concerned about technicalities, she wrote what she desired as she saw fit.  In the first two chapters readers can tell that she is very imaginative.  It can be understood by the readers that many elements in her book are from her own experiences and others from the stories she had heard through her own very Chinese mother.  Every chapter is like a breath of fresh air, because it turns to a new motif.  She jumps from different points of views, letting her readers feel exactly as we wants us to.

Although many people criticize The Woman Warrior for having no specific genre, I feel that is only because we sometimes fail to think outside the box.  While I read the book I realized that even if most of it was fiction, the content was still very real.  Being imaginative does not make something fake.

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Korean Ivy League Students Quit

December 4, 2008 at 3:57 pm (Uncategorized)

Prompt questions:
1. What does Kim say is the most likely explanation for the high dropout rate among Koreans?

2. How does the dropout rate among Koreans compare to the dropout rate among other groups?

3. What are you currently doing to increase your own college readiness? Is there anything you think you should do before you graduate from high school to be better prepared for university?

4. What else do you think about this article?


1.    The main reason Kim believes is the cause for such a high dropout rate in Korean students is the pressure applied by the parents to study instead of engaging in extracurricular activities. Quote “largely attributable to Korean parents forcing their children to study rather than participate in extracurricular activities”.

2. The statistics show that Korean students are far more likely to drop out of Ivy League Schools than students of other ethnic groups. Korea is 10% ahead of number two on the list, the United States of America.

3. Currently I am not doing much to prepare for college.  I honestly do now know what I have to do in order to grow more “prepared.”  I think no matter what I do it will still feel like I am not ready.  Perhaps it’s just me though; the thought of leaving home and living alone is terrifying.  Everyone tells me that college is the best that you get to be an independent person.  Perhaps before I graduate high school I should learn to cook more various dishes so I don’t have to eat the same things over and over again.

4. Simply put I believe that the majority of students from Korea are not prepared for the differences that colleges and universities bring to a student’s life. Shifting from 24/7 studying at school and hagwons to organizing their free time into extracurricular activities besides “extra study” is a rather difficult change for the generic Korean student. Many Korean students have never experienced the lifestyle of Americans, or rather American students (high school – college); instead they have simply viewed it from a very impersonal perspective which causes them to believe that they too, can fit in to the role of a successful and happy college student. Ivy League schools are not just branded Ivy League for the hockey league developed a century ago or so, they are prestigious schools best known for their high level of education and opportunity provided to students. Korean students cannot simply bring what they learned in Korea, and connect it with the education of the Ivy League Schools. As Kim said, students have to open up and face uncomfortable changes, and if they don’t? Flip a coin, heads you stay, tails you leave.



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December 2, 2008 at 3:30 pm (Uncategorized)


Remember to review the major institutions and “contact points” that worked as change agents in Things Fall Apart:

·     Churches

·     Courts

·     Schools

·     Markets

·     Hospitals

·     Military

Consider the idea of change – how did the Ibo people change in reaction to the forces above? In what ways were changes positive or negative?

The Ibo people throughout the whole novel were at a disadvantage.  They were never exposed to anything other than what they knew all their lives, which was the Ibo way of living.  The concept of change was not familiar to them at all.  But when the Europeans came along, they built their church, courts, schools, and etc.  These changes brought about much confusion and anger.  The land they owned was taken from them to create things they couldn’t care less about.  However the real uproar was caused when some younger generation Ibo people started to accept these changes and conforming to them.  Most of the changes were negative because they were all too sudden, most of the people reacted violently to the changes that caused different problems everywhere.  

Consider the major contact points and change agents that impact the Korean-American Diaspora. What are they? To what extent do they create change?

A major contact point in Korean-American Diaspora would be Itaewon.  Itaewon is right next to the American Army base, which made it one of the most exotic places in Korea over time.  Because Americans are always there, naturally the Koreans there changed to be able to communicate and provide.  Itaewon has many shops, nearly all labeled in the English language.  Girls that attend Base or International schools can easily find dresses for dances at school, something that Korea cannot provide easily elsewhere.  


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The Second Coming

December 1, 2008 at 3:03 pm (Uncategorized)

·  What is the meaning of the phrase “Things Fall Apart” within Yeats’ poem?

As many literary pieces do, the poem, “Things Fall Apart” refers to the biblical apocalypse. The “beast” seems to be a figure similar in the Bible. Like many authors, Yeats seems to have been inspired in some way by the Bible.  The meaning in the phrase “Things Fall Apart” in his poem seems to be a warning or a dirge for the lost world.  .

·  What does the Second Coming refer to in general?

The Second Coming in general seems to refer to the second coming of Jesus Christ.  Revelations in the Bible describes what God showed the apostle John through a dream: the end of the world. Jesus is killed and resurrected. And the world survives loving God and worshipping him.  

·  What does the Second Coming refer to in Yeats’ poem?

The Second Coming in Yeats’ poem obviously contains some Biblical influence.  “The Second Coming is surely at hand.” shows that the Second Coming is an event that everyone knows about.  The spirits of the world being summoned is surely a reference to the Bible. 

As you read Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, note how the novel both takes up and changes Yeats’ version of the Second Coming. Who or what in the novel represents a “rough beast” that “slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?”

As I read “Things Fall Apart” I noticed the novel, even if it is inspired by the Bible, it still changes the meaning of the Second coming.  The beast are represented by the Europeans in the novel. The “rough beast slouches toward Bethlehem to be born.” The beast goes to Bethlehem to cause more evil.  The Ibo, the Europeans come unwelcomed to the hometown of the Ibo people and cause things to fall apart.

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The Strangest Bite I’ve Ever Bitten

November 30, 2008 at 2:13 pm (Uncategorized)

  Although I was born and raised in the United States, most food did not surprise me even after I moved to Korea because I was exposed to Korean cuisine all my life.  Rice and an assortment of banchan was my daily meal;  I laughed as my blonde friends ogled at the pickled cabbages and spiced fish in our fridge.  But I was quickly humbled in fourth grade when my parents took me for a trip down in MokpoMokpo is right next to the ocean, and hosts a thriving fish market.  From all directions Ajummas and Ajushis yelled orders at each other whilst rushing about with buckets of fish, others waved black vinyl bags of freshly cut fish and haggled loudly with customers.

  It was at this fish market that I discovered people could eat the strangest things.  I marveled at sea cucumbers and slithering eels, wondering how my ancestors came to the conclusion that they should actually capture and consume these ugly creatures.     But the most disgustingly fascinating of them all was the nakji (octopus minor).   I couldn’t take my eyes off them as they slithered in the tank, oozing about with their pale tentacles.  Just when I was starting to lose interest, suddenly the ajumma expertly dunked her hand into the tank and yanked one out.  I stared in horror as it desperately tripped to wriggle out of her grip; it flailed its tentacles and wrapped itself around her outstretched arm.  My father excitedly exclaimed to me in rapid Korean, “Saehaya! You must try this! It’s called sannakji; I know you’ll love it.”  I never rejected octopi when it was placed in front of me at the dinner table, but I never really embraced it either.  So I just silently nodded at my father’s suggestion, intimidated.  But as soon as I decided to be brave, the ajumma plunked the poor octopus minor onto her chopping block and deftly severed its eight legs into sixteen, then thirty two pieces.  She scooped the wriggling pieces onto a plate and lightly seasoned them with sesame oil.  She placed the plate in front of us and gave me a wide smile.  My father started snickering when he caught my expression, and then his laugh turned to hysterics when I whimpered.  My father picked his wooden chopsticks up and smacked his lips.  He caught a squirming leg and held it out to me.  I shook my head, feeling sick to my stomach.  My father sighed, “I can’t believe you’re letting me down like this, Saehaya.  Every Korean should try sannakji at least once in their life.”   Whether it was simply because I didn’t want to disappoint him, or because he implied that I was not a true Korean if I didn’t eat it, somehow what he said struck a nerve.  I gazed at the glistening piece of sannakji and winced, sourly opened my mouth, and dreaded the squirming leg to enter. 



It wriggled in my mouth and stuck to my tongue.  I ripped it off my tongue and started to chew.  It was chewy, too chewy.  I was expecting a bitter, gross taste, but to my surprise it didn’t taste like much; it was a bit salty, with the faint flavor of sesame oil.   But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t any less a strange experience. 

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Young and Restless in China

November 24, 2008 at 4:40 pm (Uncategorized)

Young and Restless in China
    China is not only the most heavily populated country in the world; it is also the most rapidly changing.  Soon after the Cultural Revolution, China adopted capitalism, which stimulated Chinese citizens to create a whole new world. Much to the government’s pleasure, the rapid changes brought positive effects to China’s economy.  Creativity burst forth in all directions and new business ideas wrung money in fast.   But this rapid development also brought confusion with it.  Unlike the mindsets of the people before the Cultural Revolution, more and more people desire luxuries they did not have in the past, and the pressure to become rich rises.  So here exists a troubling paradox for Chinese citizens: Should they follow the glamorous, but dangerously soaring, social changes? Or should they stick to the normal, initial conservative ideals of the past? 
1. Why do you think Miranda Hong describes her generation of Chinese as “confused”?

    I think Miranda Hong describes her generation of Chinese as “confused” because she recognizes the abrupt changes in her society.  As the title of the documentary suggests, her generation of Chinese citizens really are “Young and Restless.”  The Cultural Revolution and the following adoption of capitalism brought rapid changes that both excites and frighten the Chinese.  The elimination of rations represents China’s shedding of leftist practices; now the Chinese can eat anything in any amount (as long as they can afford it).  This idea abandons the initial, conservative ideals of the past: to serve your country.  Because the culture in China is transforming so quickly before its eyes, the younger generation would have no other choice but to be perplexed.  The rules their parents followed are abandoned, so they are left with no model to follow.  Because they are allowed to create as they go, the Chinese are left new to everything.  A large number of Chinese also travel overseas for their education.  When they come back they bring a whole new foreign set of rules and regulations.  They come back with different ethical ideals and morals which confuse the Chinese even more.  Even the entrepreneurs themselves are confused.  They go through an identity crisis that leaves them questioning everything. 
2. Why do you think the Chinese government has nicknamed the young people coming home from abroad “returning turtles?”

    I think the Chinese government has nicknamed the young people coming home from abroad “returning turtles” because the Chinese coming back in to China with new worldly knowledge.  The citizens that have left home come back with seeds of future growth that will make China even stronger.  The young generation’s work or educational experiences abroad must have affected their ambitions in China a great deal.  The Chinese go overseas to learn things China cannot provide.  For example, the American and Chinese environment is very different.  Because America is so democratic the Chinese there experience opportunities that they otherwise could not have experienced. The Chinese that are abroad learn to think relatively outside the box contrary to the citizens back home. In a country where everyone is equal, the possibilities are endless.  Because the Chinese that stayed abroad are used to democracy, they bring home these ideals and desire to change China into a more free country.  These fresh and ambitious young people maybe have returned to China to help Globalize their country.  Or perhaps they know that the new techniques they have learned overseas will help them become wealthy fast in a country that has not yet been exposed to these rush of novel business proposals.  Money is worth more in China, and because living expenses are cheap the Chinese that were once middle class in the states find themselves in the upper-middle class.
3. In what ways do you think Ben Wu, the entrepreneur launching the Internet cafe, is representative of the “new” China?

    I think Ben Wu, the entrepreneur launching the Internet café, is representative of the “new” China in many ways.  Firstly, Ben Wu launches his own private business.  After the change of communism to capitalism, businesses have been booming all over the country.  The fact that a man could decide to create his own company and give himself a job is a fairly new idea in China.  Ben Wu is also part of the ever growing group of entrepreneurs that studied overseas, that soaked in the American democratic environment and observed blooming businesses.  The Chinese that travel overseas to get an education represent China’s desire to become a bigger part of the world.  By globalization China advertises itself and develops.  The Internet Café is a big success in China, foreign companies and investors show interest in this new cultural niche.  The Café itself also advertises China, as the internet is the most effective form of promotion of globalization.  With the Internet China becomes more involved in most anything.  The “new” China follows trends and new ideas to globalize itself.

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