Archive for October 2008

Recently, The Korea Times reported a shocking result from Samuel S. Kim’s doctoral dissertation “First and Second Generation Conflict in Education of the Asian American Community.” It’s been researched that 44% of Korean Ivy League students give up their courses halfway. This is the highest percentage among all of the students, including American students.

After I read this article, I discussed about the problem with my parents and thought about the 4 prompts on Mr. Jones’ blog.


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

Kim says that the primary problem is Korean mindset regarding education. Korean parents force their children to study rather than participate in extracurricular activities, which is considered as important as studying in America. Because Korean students spend too much time on studying, they are isolated from the local communities. Their lack of participation and interaction with others cause failures.

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

Korean dropout rate is 44%, which far exceeds 34% of American, 25% of Chinese and 21% of Indian students. It is obvious that Korean dropout rate is extraordinarily high. Korean students are No.1 dropout country in Ivy League!

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?

I’m involved in many extracurricular activities so that I have more experience in a variety of fields before I get into college. Participating in extracurricular activities is, as Kim said, important to lead a quality life in college. I am also studying on my own instead of attending hagwons because I will need to become independent in college. Nobody is there to work for me in college; it’s all about my effort and time management.

I think I need to read many books befor I graduate from high school so that I become comfortable with reading fast in English. English is not my first language, so sometimes it is challenging for me to read at the same pace as others. I have been warned that college is full of massive reading materials, so I better practice reading faster before I sit among piles of documents and books!

4. What else do you think about this article?

The first thought that came into my mind after looking at the title of this articles was ‘This article will definietly not work in favor of Korean students.’ As a Korean student working on college application these days, I am sensitive about how college administrations view Korean students. I know international students like me are categorized as U.S. citizens, but a bad news about Korean students would still influence colleges’ view on all ethnically Korean students. If many Koreans read this article and become motivated to change their mindset regarding education, that would be great. However, unless Korean students show some excellent work very soon, colleges might not want to admit Korean students anymore. I mean, who would want to pick student from an ethnic group with No.1 dropout rate?


Ibo Diaspora

Ibo people were influenced by the new institutions such as school, market, church and court that were established by the white people. These institutions were designed to serve one purpose: to convert Ibo people into Christians. It was a deliberate work of missionaries to change the Ibo culture and assimilate African Americans into white culture.

In the beginning of missionary establishments, not many Ibos were interested in Christianity. Many of them did not understand the concept of one God, and thought Christian church will not last long. However, as time passed, a few people began, especially the those who weren’t welcomed by the Ibo society, to convert to Christian. Later on, even the men of titles began to believe in Chrstian God.

As the number of converts increased, conflicts arose between Ibo people who sticked to their tradition and the converts who changed their view. Some converts were openly shouting out that Ibo Gods were not real. In response, Ibo people excluded the converts from their community. In the end, the conflicts worsened and there were bloodshed involved.

These changes in Ibo people were negative because traditional Ibo culture was lost. Peaceful society was interrupted by white missionary and ended up being separated into two conflicting group. The assimilation to new ideas and religion was too abrupt and forceful; it was not a beneficial process for Ibo people.

This is  the reason why the novel is called Things Fall Apart. Umuofia was in chaos because of the clash between new ideas and old beliefs of Ibo culture. As people began to convert to new belief system, the Ibo laws and traditions were losing its power. The social structure and organization were breaking down and things were falling apart. This idea relates to the poem Second Coming, which is where the title Things Fall Apart originates from. In this poem, there are two conflicting forces that break the peace and bring chaos, just like Ibo culture and Christian culture clashed in the novel. Chinua Achebe chose Things Fall Apart as the title of the book to portray the fall of traditional African society, organizations, beliefs, and rules (everything the African culture was based on) as they clashed with the new western culture that came with white missionary.

Korean-American Diaspora

Korean-American diaspora is happening very fast these days as there are more communication between the two countries.  There are many ways that Koreans contact with American culture:

1. Internet

Internet is probably the easiest ways to contact another culture. People just type any country and off they go into a whole new culture. Through internet, Koreans, especially teenagers, listen to American songs, look at pictures of American celebrities and read English news papers. They are affected by American culture, and you can often see Korean teenagers dressed up like an American celebrity on the street, listening to pop songs.

2. International Schools

The number of international Schools is increasing as more students plan to study in the States and learn English to ‘survive’ in a global world. International Schools provide environment that is very similar to American schools; everything is in English, and students learn about American history and culture. Most of the students are affected by the diverse culture of America and tend to be more open-minded than non-international Korean students. They listen to American songs, watch hollywood movies, dress up like American celebrities, and discuss about hot issues in the States.

3. Shops

Probably more than one-third of clothes in shops and department stores are American brands. There are pictures of western models posted up here and there. As the number of American brands increase, more Koreans are trying western styled clothes. Now days you can spot many Koreans wearing similar clothes to American celebrities and trying out new styles that were once considered ‘too extreme’ in Korean culture.

There are more contact points of Korean and American cultures such as TVs, news papers and movie theaters. Though some might say Korean-American diaspora is causing traditional Korean culture to fade away and lose identity, I think it is good that people are communicating with a different culture and taking in new ideas. It is a global world, and it wouldn’t be good if Koreans only stick to traditional culture instead of exploring western culture. It is a positive change that Koreans are starting to open their mind to diversity of ideas and perspectives.

Choi Jin-Sil, a famous Korean actress recently commited suicide because of false rumors and malicious comments that spread through internet

Choi Jin-Sil, a famous Korean actress recently commited suicide because of false rumors and malicious comments that spread through internet

Recently, A Korean top actress, Choi Jin-Sil commited suicide. This news came as a horrible shock to Koreans, who enjoyed many movies and dramas that Choi Jin-Sil had participated in before her death. It has been investigated that she died because she couldn’t stand the false rumors and hurtful comments that spread online. There has been a rumor that she was related to recent suicide of another actor who died of huge debt that he couldn’t pay.

After this sudden death of a famous actress, Korean government is discussing lawful actions to prevent anymore of these disasters resulting from false rumors and cyber slanders. There is a heated debate on whether government should regulate internet replies.

Pro-regulation side is insisting that internet users should identify their real names before writing any comments. This is to prevent people using virtual identity and IDs to write down comments that hurt any other people. Furthermore, pro-regulation side proposed that cyber slanderers could be punished by law without the victim’s accusation. In fact, the police already mobilized more than 900 cyber investigators to arrest cyber slanderers. (More details in Chosun Ilbo)

However, there are people who are concerned about such government regulation. Restricting certain comments is against the freedom of speech, which means it is undemocratic. Some also raised concern that people would not be able to stand up for what they believe is true or right if they have to use their real identity. This would become a serious problem if it comes to politics, because government might restrict comments that are not favorable to it.

Listening to radio talks and news, I speculated on what the government should do about cyber slandering. Certainly there should be some effort to reduce malicioius messages online. However, the laws should be established after a long discussion and thoughts about the effect of enforcing those laws. Unless there is a clear criterion for deciding what is considered ‘malicious’ or ‘unacceptable’ message, these regulations might end up violating citizen’s rights to say what they believe in.

The Second Coming of Christ

The Second Coming of Christ

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

I think the phrase “Things Fall Apart” means that people begi to fight with each other and thus are no more united. When two opposing groups clash, there is no more cooperation among people to live together. Instead, violence and selfish minds take over the world and divide the union. Violence usually results in the collapse of law, belief and the basis on which the organization stands upon. The later part of the poem shows that there is a darkness approaching to create instability, which will result in things falling apart.
What does the Second Coming refer to in general?
I didn’t really know about Christian beliefs about Christ, so I had no idea what the Second Coming was. Through some research, I found out the Second Coming refers to the return of Christ at the end of the world. Christians believe that the Bible proves the promise of Jesus to come back to save the believers/Christians from the evil. There are some quotes from the Bible that people think are the proofs of the Second Coming.
What does the Second Coming refer to in Yeats’ poem?
I think Yeats expanded the meaning of Second Coming from the return of Christ on doomsday to a mean a big conflict among people. This big conflict among the ‘civilized West’ and the ‘uncivilized savages’ means that darkness is coming to seize the world. This conflict could mean World War I, because this was one of the major conflicts among people that Yeats had gone through. It brought bloodshed and chaos, which resembles the doomsday that the Christ is supposed to come. We can infer from the last 5 lines of the poem that Yeats used the idea of Second Coming of Jesus in the Bible. The last 5 lines depict a beast threatening Bethlehem, which is the birth place of Jesus. This beast is also mentioned in the Bible as the threatening creature that appears on the doomsday.

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?”

     In the novel Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe expressed the conflict between African natives (Umuofians) and the Western missionaries using Yeats’ version of the Second Coming. As the title Things Fall Apart reflects, Achebe takes up the idea of the fall of order, law and tradition expressed in Yeats’ poem. He shows the process of Umuofian people dividing among themselves because of new religious belief introduced by the white missionaries. In the end, Umuofians lose order and got into conflicts leading to death of many people. These conflicts are similar to those in Yeats’ poem; the two forces (gyres) destructing one another. 
     Although the concept of conflict in the novel and the poem is similar, there is one big difference between the two writings. In Yeats’ poem, those who are not Christians are considered the evil of the world, or the rough beast the slouches towards Bethlehem to be born. We could infer this because Bethlehem is a holy place where Jesus was born, and the poem describes the beast as a figure threatening the holy place. Contrasting to the poem, the novel depicts Christian missionaries as the antagonists who ruin innocent native people in Africa. In other words, forceful missionaries are the rough beast who threatened the innocent village in Nigeria.


  • Alice: Very insightful. I shall take your advice :]
  • Mr WordPress: Hi, this is a comment.To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts' comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.