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Archive for December, 2008

Hagwons in U.S.

NEW YORK – Increasing numbers of Korean students who successfully enter prestigious universities in the United States are dropping out or turning to private institutes for help in meeting the rigorous academic standards. The difficulties Korean students face can be mainly attributed to poor English skills and educational differences between Korea and the U.S., experts say.

In Flushing, New York – one of the major Korea towns in the Eastern United States – more than 300 hagwon have sprung up, largely due to the Korean zeal for education. Bell Boulevard stretches 3.5 kilometers (2.1 miles) through the district, crowded with 60 private schools targeting Korean students. The area looks just like a street in Daechi-dong, a popular hagwon district in southern Seoul.
– Hagwon in U.S. cash in on Korean undergrads (JoongAng Daily)

As I have already posted on the previous post, Korean students tend to rely hugely on helps from hagwons. Hagwon is a big and successful industry in Korea as most of the Korean parents send their children to hagwons for academic enhancements. These hagwons help hugely on raising students’ grades on GPA and SAT’s; yet there is a huge consequence that follows along. As students become more accustomed to hagwons, they lose their self-study skills and become much more dependent on hagwons. This is one of the biggest reasons to why Korean students tend to drop out most from the Ivy League schools. Not only do their English skills lack, but they lack experience of studying by themselves without hagwons. In order to help these students, hagwon industry was developed even in the United States. As the article presents, the hagwon industry is very popular even in the states, prevailing the Korean students’ huge dependence on hagwons. It is extremely surprising how within a decade numbers of hagwons in the United States increased dramatically. The popular boom of going to schools in America made more and more students to apply for American colleges.

Building full of hagwons in Dae-Chi Dong

Building full of hagwons in Dae-Chi Dong

LOS ANGELES (AFP) — American teenagers lie, steal and cheat more at “alarming rates,” a study of nearly 30,000 high school students concluded Monday.

The attitudes and conduct of some 29,760 high school students across the United States “doesn’t bode well for the future when these youngsters become the next generation’s politicians and parents, cops and corporate executives, and journalists and generals,” the non-profit Josephson Institute said.

In its 2008 Report Card on the Ethics of American Youth, the Los Angeles-based organization said the teenagers’ responses to questions about lying, stealing and cheating “reveals entrenched habits of dishonesty for the workforce of the future.”

Boys were found to lie and steal more than girls.
American teens lie, steal, cheat at ‘alarming’ rates: study (Google News)

Students cheating during their test

Students cheating during their test

The above article is very interesting. As the article presents, the number of students convicting cheating and other sorts of behaviors breaking academic integrity is increasing in a dramatic rate. The primary explanation for such increase would be the increase of pressure to strive academically for future careers. Today’s society values education, especially which college the person is from, very much. It is extremely difficult to get a high price job with low ranked college graduate certificate. Korean society strongly rejects people from bad colleges and it is very difficult to get a job with such resume. As society functions in this way, students are more pressured to get higher grades to raise GPA, which counts hugely for college application. I have seen numerous incidents of cheating personally within the school; even I have been having thoughts of cheating. This was all because of pressures to get high grades. As competition for colleges increase more dramatically, such pressure becomes bigger by the day. The part about boys cheating more than girls, I think, is very true. I personally have seen much more boys cheating, lieing, and stealing than girls. Even if we look at TV’s and movie films, it is mostly boys who do such immoral behaviors. Girls are expected to be much more calm than boys. I believe the pressure to get good grades is the biggest reason to why students tend to cheat more.

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The Warrior Tradition

The above film is a fight scene between two main female characters of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. From the scene, the viewers are very likely to catch some of the female warrior traits. First of all, the movement of the Invincible Sword Goddess is very flexible and fast. If we look at action films, we notice men’s movements are very heavy and strong, whereas, the fight movements of the two female characters of this film are very soft, adroit, and flexible. The strength of these two women are also not represented through muscle or big body. Rambo’s picture below demonstrates how male warrior’s strength are represented through muscles. The gender difference between female and male warrior is also very significant. Throughout the society, women are believed and expected to be weak and men are expected to be the ones who fight; thus the society rejects female warrior. If we look at the Disney film, The Mulan, we can notice how Mulan tied her hair like a man and acted like a man, so that she wouldn’t be looked down upon. Even in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Invincible Sword Goddess dresses and acts like a man, so that her foes are fear her. From the Woman Warrior, we also see how women are believed to be weak and how the society rejected female warriors.

Rambo displays his strength through his muscular body

Rambo displays his strength through his muscular body

Mulan cuts her hair to look like a man, which cleary demonstrates the gender expectation as warriors

Mulan cuts her hair to look like a man, which cleary demonstrates the gender expectation as warriorsThe two female warriors from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon do not look strong physically; however these two characters display their strength through flexibility and adroitness

Two female warriors from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon do not look strong physically; yet they display their strength through flexibility and adroitness

Two female warriors from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon do not look strong physically; yet they display their strength through flexibility and adroitness

The film below is a fight scene between two men from Fist of Legend:
The film displays much more powerful fight compared to the scene from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

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Yet the most remarkable, and often overlooked, quality of The Woman Warrior is that it is a book without a genre. At various times it has been described as a memoir, an autobiography, a novel, a manifesto; yet anyone who spends 10 minutes with it understands that none of these labels really apply. Not because Kingston sets out to exaggerate the “facts” of her own experience, à la James Frey, but because she deliberately acknowledges that to write autobiography is to stand at the borderline between memory and invention. Like the “ghosts” in its subtitle (the word refers to the white Americans around whom Kingston grew up in Sacramento), The Woman Warrior stubbornly refuses to be either entirely fictive or entirely real. Perhaps the second most remarkable thing about the book is that in its wake, the American literary world still seems to regard the tissue-thin boundary between memoir and fiction as absolute and inviolable.
The Woman Warrior at 30

412yd43p1klAs I was reading The Woman Warrior, by Maxime Hong Kingston, I found Kingston’s writing style very confusing and weird. First of all, the book, as it was described, is a book that summarizes Kingston’s childhood life as a Chinese American. This fact would obviously make it an autobiography as she is writing about her story; The Woman Warrior is also classified as autobiography in certain places. Yet if anyone reads the book by first two chapters, he/she would easily recognize that the story isn’t like all other autobiography. In fact, it is exaggerated so that it no longer seems like fact. Thing that is making the novel more like a fiction is that Kingston is telling the stories as if she was the one who was taking the actions, in a very specific manner. Even in chapter 4, Kingston describes the scene where Brave Orchid, Moon Orchid, and Kingston’s brother had a conversation in the car. It is very clear that she wasn’t there when they were talking in the car; yet when we read the scene it is written very specifically as if Kingston was really there. Kingston making up scenarios for how her no nam aunt got pregnant proves the fact that the story is exaggerated and opinionated, whereas autobiography must contain only the truth. Kingston’s writing style is also very unique as she talks in the novel as if she was the people who she describes through the story. Moreover, when the book was descrbied as the story that will describe Kingston’s life, it is more like Kingston describing her family through exaggerated stories. Read more about her writing style at http://www.slate.com/id/2162276/.

Picture of Maxine Hong Kingston

Picture of Maxine Hong Kingston

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Forty-four percent of Korean students at top American universities give up their studies halfway through.
This data is contained in Samuel S. Kim’s doctoral dissertation “First and Second Generation Conflict in Education of the Asian American Community” delivered at Columbia University Friday.
The drop out rate is much higher than 34 percent of American, 25 percent of Chinese and 21 percent of Indian students.
Article from Korean Times

       Koreans are extremely crazy about education and college ranks. Korean mothers think only the top 25 schools are good schools and believe other ones are just bad schools. This may sound really immature and stupid, but this is the reality among Korean society. Korean students would do anything to get good grades and SAT’s to get into Ivy League Schools.  Hagwon until 12 o’clock isn’t a rare incident among Korean students. They would study and study even when they nose bleed from tiredness. And they would finally go to Ivy League Schools (of course not everyone) as they dreamed. However, what happens after they attend their dream schools?
         A news article from The Korean Times states that 44% of Korean students in Ivy League Schools give up their studies by the halfway of their college. If they are going to drop out, why would they try so hard from the first? There are some valid reasons that explain the cause for drop outs. First of all, after Korean students go to college, there are no more hagwons to help out with their academics. In Korea, almost all students go to hagwons to study and learn whereas American students have always studied by themselves. As I have heard from people around, college is all about studying by yourself. For Korean students who had always relied on hagwons, college life would be obviously difficult, causing them to drop out. Korean students will also feel no more pressure for study as they have already entered college. Korean parents had always pressured their children to study to go to college, but once they are in, all those pressures are gone. Lack of pressure would loosen the students and would make them lazy, which could lead them not to study, causing drop outs. I think these are two very strong and valid reasons that could explain the 44% of Ivy League drop outs.

Image of Harvard University, the most wanted college among Korean parents

Image of Harvard University, the most wanted college among Korean parents

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