Hagwons in U.S.

December 11, 2008

1st Article

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.

“There are a number of Korean students who withdraw from prestigious universities after they find it extremely difficult to catch up with their peers in English writing and in logical reasoning – which is fundamental to studying in Western classrooms,” said the head of another hagwon, also identified only by the surname Kim.

“Most Korean students accustomed to a cramming style of education are generally weak in logical reasoning on their own. Therefore, apart from poor English skills, they find it particularly difficult to write an essay in the ‘Western’ way, which calls for creative thinking,” said the chief of an institute for Korean students in Flushing, who gave the last name Sohn.

“Many Korean students still write cut-and-paste essays, which is considered to be plagiarism here in the U.S.,” said Dr. Kim.

Used to more lenient Korean standards when it comes to copying the work of others, many Korean students find it hard to get used to strict Western academic standards, under which copying just a few sentences without identifying the source is considered plagiarism.

As a Korean who spent most of my life in the United States, I was really interested by this article. I didn’t know that there were many hagwons in the U.S. I never attended one in Texas my whole life. However, when I got here, I went to tons of hagwons for help in my academics. It definitely helps my studies but I wonder if it is for the better. In college, students have to be responsible and do their own work and be creative. In Korea, hagwon teachers and tutors sometimes do the work or do almost all the work for the students in exchange for payment. This is leading students who spend most of their lives in Korea to struggle in universities in America because they don’t have any help. I think these hagwons for college students is a good idea so the students won’t completely drop out. However, I think it is crucial for these hagwons to not be like the ones in Korea. Hagwons should be there to help the students by guiding them, not doing the work for them. I think if all hagwons have the attitude of guiding the students instead of doing the work for the students, Korean students will be better prepared for college studies and events in the future.

2nd Article

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.

An overwhelming majority, 83 percent, of public school and private religious school students admitted to lying to their parents about something significant, compared to 78 percent for those attending independent non-religious schools.

“Despite these high levels of dishonesty, these same kids have a high self-image when it comes to ethics.”

It is evident that students are cheating more and more at a rapid rate. The reason for this is because students receive so much pressure to do well academically that they are willing to risk their futures just on one test or exam. What students don’t realize is that a few failed tests does not ruin ones future. Getting caught cheating will ruin one’s future. I admit that it is very tempting to cheat and do well on a test but in the end, I realize that it’s not worth it to cheat on a few tests. I don’t blame the students for falling into the trap. Sometimes, the pressure is too high and some peoples’ wills aren’t as strong as others. However, every person who gets caught should be punished orderly so they can learn from this mistake and never commit this crime again. If they don’t get punished, they’ll do worse things and keep doing them. In Korea especially, the pressure is at a maximum. Students commit suicide during high school if they do not receive perfect scores. It’s ridiculous how much stress parents put on the students. When I read the part where boys tend to cheat more than girls, I completely agreed with this quote. In Korea, there is a tradition of the parent to put pressure on the eldest son to succeed to set a good example for their younger siblings. This leads to additional pressure.

Students pass notes around when the teacher isn't looking.

Students pass notes around when the teacher isn't looking.Students cheat during an exam.

Students cheat during an exam.

Students cheat during an exam.


The Warrior Tradition

December 11, 2008


This video is a clip from the classic movie, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. In this clip, two women who are very skilled with the sword and martial arts unleash their anger towards one another. It is a very unique scene because their is a lot of footwork and dodging in their match. Before this scene in the movie, there is a scene where a bunch of men only carry big weapons and try to use sheer power to defeat Zizi Zhang. This is contradictory to the way women fight, which is a style of quickness, agility, and anticipation of the opponent. Even Jade Fox, who is a evil woman that is haunted by her past because of abuse from her husband, is quick and agile. This is an example that sheer power does not win out in the end, which is what most men believe in.

 This is another part of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Zizi Zhang steals the Green Destiny and is chased after by Michelle Yeoh. This is another aspect of a warrior, which is to rid the world of thieves like Zhang. The two women display excellent feetwork and parry in order to defeat each other but both show great endurance and speed. This is another example that pure strength cannot win. You don’t see muscle built in the bodies of the women. They appear skinny but they are strong in heart and strength.

The roles of women at the time was to obey everything the man says. Jade Fox could not accept this tradition as she was abused by her husband. Driven by her anger, she trained and became a warrior. She goes against the tradition, just like in the book. They dress up like men and when Zizi asks Michelle for help, Michelle tells Zizi not to dress like a man because it’s not traditional to dress up like a man.

One interesting point from this movie was that even though it displays a great deal of women fighting each other and how skilled they are, it showed that the man is stil stronger. Li Mu Bai is the greatest warrior alive and he tries to change Zizi Zhang and her ways of thievery. He dies in the end trying to do so but succeeds as Zizi realizes that she is doing wrong.

Jade Fox goes against the tradition of house-keeping women and becomes a warrior because of abuse from her husband.

Jade Fox goes against the tradition of house-keeping women and becomes a warrior because of abuse from her husband.

Mulan cuts her hair so she can look like man in order to join the army.

Mulan cuts her hair so she can look like man in order to join the army.

The Woman Warrior at age 30

December 11, 2008

In this article on slate.com, the author objectively analyzes The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston. When he states that The Woman Warrior is a book without a genre, I completely agree. First of all, even authors have trouble sorting this out. In one version of the book, it is labeled as a fiction book. However, in a different woman-warriorversion of the book with the same exact text, it is labeled as a non-fiction book. So this raises the question of, “Which genre does The Woman Warrior belong in”? This book is described as a memoir, autobiography, novel, manifesto, and etc. I think that the book should be characterized as a non-fiction book. The main argument against the book being labeled non fiction is that Kingston tells the story of her aunt based on her imaginations and overexaggerating the “ghosts” they see when the family lives in the United States. However, this story of Maxine Hong Kingston is a book written from what she experiences and it is a fact that she imagined those situations about her aunt and none of them were lies on the part of Kingston. She said the truth of what she thought and imagined. Also, the term “ghosts” is symbolically used to represent the people in America, not literal ghosts floating on the ground. So from my point of view, I think this book should be represented as a non-fiction book.

In the first chapter of the Woman Warrior, it started off in a 3rd person point of view. The story was real vague because the narrator, who is Kingston herself, does not know the story of her aunt. Then all of a sudden in chapter 2, the point of view becomes 1st person point of view. I thought this was important to point out because in the first chapter, Kingston has no validation that her imaginations about her aunt was true so she many different situations pictured in her mind. Also, like I said in the first paragraph, this book is hard to classify which genre this belonged in.