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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