Archive for the 'news' Category

Finally, a Korean protest I agree with…

Now, Koreans have a reputation for volatility and protests.  In fact, there have been articles published to this effect in the US, referring to Korea’s “culture of protest“.  This spring it was the Mad Cow protests, which drew quite a bit of international press, but believe me, there are protests here all the time that don’t draw quite so much attention (for instance, the Dokdo debate).  Usually, these protests garner a reaction from me (and other expats here) that ranges from eye-rolling to outright anger.

But, finally, this time they seem to be striking about something that I actually agree with.

Korea’s education system revolves almost entirely around a series of national standardized tests.  There is tremendous pressure put on students to do well on these tests, and around the time that they are taken, Korea’s suicide rate spikes heavily(in fact, there was a suicide here in Jindo during the mid-terms this semester that the other foreigners discovered, but I won’t go into that).  The tests are stressful for elementary students, and by the time they reach high school, it reaches almost absurd proportions.  It is such a big deal culturally, in fact, that on the day of the high school exam, police ferry students who are running late to their testing site, and fellow students who are not testing that day wait outside the schools to cheer on their friends.

There have been student protests before, but this is the first time, to my knowledge, that the teachers themselves have had a protest/strike (well, the second, I suppose, if you count the original incident which led to this current demonstration).  Now, I am actually a fan of civil disobedience (I was somewhat of a troublemaker in high school and especially college, and hell, I date a Frenchman), when done properly (nobody is hurt and property is not damaged) and for a good cause , and this, to me, qualifies.

Personally, my favourite is the teacher who decided to hold his class outside.  Props to the guy and students who decided to brave the cold of Korean winter to make a point.  Kind of like instead of a teach-in, it was a teach-out!

Korea to replace TOEFL, SAT tests…

From Brian in Jeollanamdo:

If you were the Minister of Education and your country consistently ranked among the worst at English standardized tests in the world, in spite of students spending thousands of dollars each for years or decades studying exclusively for them, what would you do? You’d scrap the test, of course. 

Man, talk about shooting yourself in both feet.  Way to go, Korea, way to go.  Good luck getting your kids into schools abroad.  Oh, wait, maybe that’s not such a great idea anyway, considering that almost half of them quit/flunk out of schools abroad anyway.  Maybe you should just stick with buying residency in foreign countries or having your children adopted by American families, both so that you can qualify to send them to an international school in Korea.  For a country that puts so much emphasis on preparing for tests, it amazes me that they do so abysmally.

Oh man, it just keeps getting better.

*sigh*

Because, you know, I’d want to work at this job if I spoke Turkish!  I particularly love the “ps: hurry up please” remark.

God, how insulting. Almost as insulting as the fact that the teacher who they have hired to replace our previous English Town teacher has been delayed because, once immigration saw in her photo that she is Asian, despite the fact that she was born and raised in the US, they have insisted that she has to go to the nearest Korean consulate to have an interview, “to confirm that her English is native”. This is not, by any means, the first time I have heard of that happening.

Oh Korea, your institutionalized racism is so entertaining. Only, not.

Surreal News

 

So, rumors abound that Kim Jong-il has had a serious stroke (this one seems pretty confirmed), or perhaps is even dead and has been replaced by body-doubles.

Things could get very interesting here, very soon.

Reunification, if it were to happen, while ultimately eventually a good thing, could seriously cripple South Korea for a very long time, and, consequently, have a major effect on Asia and the world in general, as well. Though, seeing the end of the last Stalinist state in the world could be very, very interesting.

Twitter?

Are any of you readers on twitter?  If so, let me know and I’ll add you.  I’m over there as driftingfocus.

Mostly for Marc

Seoul to introduce new rifle-launcher as personal weapon in 2009

Man, why do they get all the cool shit?

Pacifist though I may be, I still am fascinated by firearms.


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