Friday, March 11, 2011

Bits and Pieces

The Korea Herald has an article about mental health services for expats.

You won't see me disagreeing with this.

The Joongang Ilbo had an interesting article the other day about
a Gangnam cram school, or hagwon, which has expanded into the burgeoning business of tutoring kids who want to win school elections.

“Leaving a strong impression with your performance is more important than campaign pledges or self-introductions,” lectures his teacher, who is surnamed Yang. He shows Kim how to deliver the line in the manner of Hyun Bin for the election. The two have been practicing vocalization and gesticulations for a full month.

On the same day, a student council election is taking place at another elementary school in Gangnam, and seven candidates are in the ring.

“If I become a president, I’ll make sure there’s no violence on school grounds,” promises a female sixth-grader surnamed Uhm, who has a third-degree black belt in Taekwondo. Uhm holds up a wooden board with the word “violence” painted on it. She smashes the board with a karate chop. Uhm gets the second-highest number of votes, becoming vice president.

“Being elected as either president or vice president of the student council will help me get admitted to an international middle school,” said Uhm. “My hagwon taught me how to write a speech and worked with me on my pronunciation.”

The wave of prepubescent politicians is powered by fierce competition to get into international middle schools and special-purpose high schools, where admission offices pay a lot of attention to students’ extracurricular activities.
It's always interesting seeing what niches hagwons will rush to fill.

The Chosun Ilbo reports that a great, great grandson of Ito Hirobumi has been appointed Japan's foreign minister, and notes that this could ruffle Korean feathers, adding that "Matsumoto is aware of the fact and has apparently asked whether it would be better for him to admit that he is related to Hirobumi when meeting Korean government officials."

I don't imagine the way to broach that would be to say, "Well, y'know, there is a link to Korea in my family's past - my great, great grandfather was murdered by a Korean."

The Joongang Ilbo has an article about Misari, the spot along the Han River east of Seoul where folk singers popular in the 1970s and 1980s perform. A coworker took me there in 2001 to see Song Chang-sik, but as it turned out he wasn't playing that night, and we ended up seeing a few other performers instead (including, I think, the Seoul Family). I think that was actually the first 'concert' I saw in Korea, a few weeks before the Samzzi Sound festival (which was more to my taste).


Darth Babaganoosh said...

Misari was still quite popular in the mid-90's as a "date spot". I remember traveling there with my then-girlfriend several times, and it was always packed with uni students and younger couples on date weekends. Finding a place to stay for the night was always a nightmare.

Reminding me of the place makes me wonder what it's like now... might have to take the current-girlfriend up for a look-see.

kushibo said...

I went out to Misari once or twice. Those isolated areas far enough outside the main city are popular because they make for good anonymity when two people enter a nearby motel for their tryst.

BTW, on my Mac I couldn't open the KT link. What was it supposed to be?

matt said...

An opinion piece by an SNU prof - it's cached here.