22. Field trip to the DMZ

This post refers to the video about a 20-year old North Korean refugee.

The “Koreas” are the only nations who are officially “divided.” As a student who lives in one of the Koreas, specifically the South, I often experience some quirky yet disturbing situations regarding this issue about Korea being divided. For instance, when I went to a summer camp in one of the schools in California, after I introduced myself saying I am from Korea, about three other students (Americans) asked simultaneously asked, “which one?”

As I encounter these circumstances, I unconsciously ask myself over and over again, ‘what is the difference?’

According to the video, there are about

15,000 North Korean defectors who have made it to South Korea…

How are these “defectors” doing in the South? Well the most obvious difference between North and South Korea is the government and the amount of freedom each individual obtains. North Korea is known for its one of the most stringent Communism,  while South Korea is exponentially developing both economically and culturally.

Ergo, one of the biggest problems that the North Korean refugees face is the culture shock.

They experience severe culture shock transitioning from one of the world’s most isolated Communist states to one of the most technologically and economically advanced societies.

South Korea nowadays is full of Western stores, restaurants, and cultures. For example, Apku-Jeong is the center of Westernized Korea.

Apku Rodeo Street

Apku Rodeo Street

Now look at the North Koreans’ daily lives.

These differences of environment inexorably make the lives of North Korean refugees tough, just like Haejung’s.

Another factor that makes the refugees’ lives is the separation from their families. Majority of North Koreans come to South through the DMZ, or Demilitarized Zone.

DMZ

DMZ

When they come to South, it is most likely that they won’t be able to go back to their homes (they will be punished severely in the North, while South tries to protect the refugees).

As a student who went to Korean school and met some of the refugee students myself through academic programs, I have great empathy for them. I sometimes imagine what would happen if I were in that situation, or on the other hand South Korea becomes the relatively “poorer” nation.

In this sense, I hope the two Koreas become one nation.

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21. Modernism

These are the four examples of Modernism that I found, from James Wagner’s blog.

Modernism, by definition, is

a term that refers to artistic works produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s through the 1970s, and denotes the style and philosophy of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the traditions of the past have been thrown aside in a spirit of experimentation.

Retard Riot

Retard Riot: This art piece by Lyon Noah is very unconventional and "weird" in a sense that there aren't many art pieces this simple yet straight-forward. The title itself explains the theme of the display: stupidity. With just simple colors and roughly-outlined sketch, Lyon Noah shows some unconventional patterns of the new art.

Other parts of “Retard Riot”…

Retard Riot 2

Retard Riot 2

Retard Riot 3

Retard Riot 3

Another example I found was:

Modernist Building Abandoned

Modernist Building Abandoned: This piece is unconventional and modernistic in many perspectives. First, the building drawn on canvas itself is very unconventional, in that it doesn't have the geometric symmetry or pattern. Also, the setting of the exhibition is very awkward. It is displayed in the middle of Metropolitan Avenue near BQV. In these senses, the piece is very "modernistic."

The third example I found was also by Noah Lyon.

Jennifer Steinkamp and Noah Lyon

Jennifer Steinkamp and Noah Lyon: This piece is also very unconventional in that it doesn't have the sense of "permanent" art. Most of the conventional art pieces are permanent, whether they are sculptures or paintings. This, however, with the help of technology, is only a projection of light patterns and a mannequin standing in front of the rays. Nonetheless the patterns looks gorgeous and shows some "unconventional" and modernistic smell of art.

The last modernistic example I found was a furniture.

Modernistic Chair

Modernistic Chair: This chair breaks the conventional image of a furniture: geometric, straight-lined and edged, wooded, and most importantly, mundane and boring. This chair is round and gives the sitter a sense of privacy, which was never found in the normal chair's exposed environment. Also the color red is very exotic and eye-catching for a furniture.

20. Cormac McCarthy

This post is referring to the article from New York Times.

Cormac McCarthy is well known for his smooth, plot-driven writing style as well as blunt inclusions of violence and details in his pieces. Although Cormac McCarthy is said to be the pioneer of the style, he was greatly influenced by William Faulkner, as

Cormac McCarthy must be acknowledged as a talent equal to William Faulkner.

Cormac McCarthy’s unique writing style shines again when he describes the landscapes and animals in his famous novel, All the Pretty Horses. Just from the book’s title, the author focuses more on the environment’s details, rather than the main character, John Grady Cole.

In his sleep he could hear the horses stepping among the rocks and he could hear them drink from the shallow pools in the dark where the rocks lay smooth and rectilinear as the stones of ancient ruins and the water from their muzzles dripped and rang like water dripping in a well and in his sleep he dreamt of horses and the horses in his dream moved gravely among the tilted stones like horses come upon an antique site where some ordering of the world had failed and if anything had been written on the stones the weathers had taken it away again and the horses were wary and moved with great circumspection carrying in their blood as they did the recollection of this and other places where horses once had been and would be again. Finally what he saw in his dream was that the order in the horse’s heart was more durable for it was written in a place where no rain could erase it.

From the quote above, the readers can tell that the author has a really high affinity towards horses.

Another thing about Cormac McCarthy that has to be mentioned is his diction and dialogue. He rarely uses insignificant punctuations; when the characters converse, he omits the quotation marks, sometimes even question marks when asking questions. The words used in dialogues are simple as they could be, without any fancy words, but with the voice of the natural dialect and taste.

Just like he said in the interview, Cormac McCarthy never writes about a place he did not visit. He revives even the tiniest details in his pieces, leading the readers into the actual scenes.

cormac mccarthy

19. Growing Up Online

This post refers to the video Growing Up Online by Frontline.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the advent of Internet brought many consequences, some negative and some positive. This video deals both with the advantageous and disadvantageous side-effects of Internet overuse, such as lack of sociability.

The video made me wonder: what would happen to our lives if I “unplug” ourselves from all media sources? Let’s assume that I avoided all medias. For a teenage boy like me who uses the computer for more than three hours per day, I would be insecure because I would feel like I’m missing some “good stuffs” that everyone else is viewing, participating in, or planning online. To dodge these addictive worries, I would have to find another activity to focus on. For example, I would spend more time on the drums and guitars to distract myself from looking at the computer screen. Another possible solution to disconnect from media is engaging myself in outdoor activities. Although the weather these days are freezing, at least I won’t think about Internet while it’s out of reach. As one of the wall posts in the Frontline discussion, a stereotypical image of a computer geek is

anti-social, swallow-skinned codester.

internet-addictI guess this stereotype holds some validity because when anyone uses the computer, they hardly move or use any muscles. By actually using muscles and moving around, we can prevent computer addition to some extent.

Why do people use Internet? One of the main reasons is the networking sites. In Internet, there are numerous websites, networks, and clubs that anyone can join and converse with other people. By doing this, people feel “included.” Also for people who are less social than others in real life, these networking sites work as another path for them to develop socially. Websites like Facebook and MySpace give opportunities and invisible confidence for even the most non-social people.

web_pornographySo what are the disadvantages of Internet exposure? What parents worry about the most is the children’s “accessibility” towards viral marketings, pornographies, violences, and/or vulgar and instantaneous languages. Online kidnappers and terrorists are emerging. Careless online messages are “distorting” the English language. As one of the people discussed on the discussion board,

Basically everyone knows abbreviations like “LOL”. The advent of internet/text messaging typography is nearly pandemic in the majority of young writers. I’ve peer-reviewed college papers where the author didn’t write out the full word “you”, and so on. For years I’ve wanted to make a research project over the further (rapid) evolution of ‘internet language’, as it seems to be a driving force in the next new change in the English language.

There are clear benefits and losses of Internet usage. Whether or not they are used in a “good” way lies under individual user’s responsibility.

*The above video features an interesting debate, discussing whether individual privacy is more important than catching criminals.

18. Hagwon in U.S. cash in and U.S. teens cheat

This post refers to two of the articles, one about increasing number of Hakwon in America, and one about increasing number of academic integrity violations.

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.

hakwonAccording to the articles, the number of after-school academies, commonly known as Hakwon in Korea, in the United States is dramatically increasing. As the number of students studying in the states increases, the Korean system of education has also traveled with the students. The after-school academic programs, known as “Sa Gyu Yook” in Korea, i s a serious issue. Almost all the parents believe that this extra education is mandatory for students to get accepted into prestigious colleges, in and out of Korea. Are the parents unreasonably obsessed?

I believe for the most part the parents are correct. Korean public education lacks focus and passionate teachers. Since the government cannot pay them well, why would they want to teach? More and more talented teachers take steps closer to private-educational-systems, such as Hakwon and tutors, to earn more money. Ergo, Hakwons become increasingly expensive, while they also become a requirement.

According to the survey done by ITStats, more than 54% of the Korean high schoolers go to Hakwon. Surprisingly, even more number of kindergarteners attend Hakwons (over 92.5%). This represents the seriousenss of Korean obsession. StatisticsThe bad news is that US is getting affected, too. More and more Hakwons are literally “immigrating” into the states. Myriads of Hakwons are settling into spaces now. How would this affect the US education system? How would the American government react to this? I believe US colleges, which all put significant amount of weight on individuality and personal growth, would strongly oppose to the Hakwon system. I think it should, too.

17. Young and Restless in China

This blog refers to the film from Frontline.

I’ve answered few of the questions that our class has discussed about.

Question 3: What do you think Ben Wu, the entrepreneur launching the Internet café, is representative of the “new” China?

One of the factors that make Ben Wu a good representative of the “new” China is his educational achievements and purpose. In the beginning of the film, the narrator mentions that many Chinese people come back from United States after pursuing their educations.  They choose to come back for entrepreneurial opportunities that Western-educated people can succeed in. Ben Wu, after studying in New York, also comes back to China to start his Internet café business. Another way Ben Wu resembles nowadays China is his family issues. Majority of the Chinese businessmen, businesswomen, and workers face trouble dealing with both their family lives and works. Ben had to live separately from his wife because he had to stay in China to regulate his café, while his wife was studying in New York. Similarly, another character from the film, Zhang Jingjing, a public lawyer, lost her fiancé because she tied herself to her job.

Lawyer Jingjing

Lawyer Jingjing

She admitted that she was focused too much on her work, which eventually led to her breakup. The “new” China is a developing nation that is transforming into a center of international and entrepreneurial events, and unfortunately experiencing conflicts between personal lives and business lives.   

 

 

Question 6: Lu Dong likens Chinese ambition to a poor kid going into a candy store and grabbing too much candy because he has been hungry for so long.

        Is this an apt analogy about China?

        Propose another analogy to describe Chinese ambition.

 

As we have seen from the video, most of the people who are having successful businesses have once suffered poor lives. China has been one of the poorest nations in the 20th century. It has suffered through disastrous poverty and communism. The “new” China is, however, developing economically in an uncontrollable speed. The citizens are getting education from America, myriads of independent businesses are blossoming, and the nation is getting richer. Because the Chinese people have witnessed and experienced the hardships, their main goal is to have peaceful lives. And for them to enjoy their lives, they need money.

money

money

China since has become the money-driven nation. As Lu Dong said, the common Chinese Dream nowadays became

 “Get rich as fast as you can and enjoy the rest of life.”

The “poor kid” analogy perfectly fits the circumstance that China is currently experiencing. The people have been economically deprived and hungry, and they want to reverse their lives as quickly as possible.

Another possible analogy that can describe the Chinese ambition is the Burmese Pythons. In 2005, a 13-foot Burmese python tried to swallow an indigenous 6-foot alligator in Everglades National Park. However, the alligator was too big that python’s stomach ripped open. Later on, the biologists and ecologists figured out that the python was starving for days. This also is an apt analogy that represents the Chinese ambition: desires overwhelming the reasonable consciousness.

burmese python

burmese python

 

 

 

 

 

Question 9: Why do you think FRONTLINE producers named this program Young & Restless in China?

        Do you think this is an appropriate title? Why or why not?

        What other titles would aptly describe this program?

 

China is a newly developing country. Compared to its status from the 20th century, it went through tremendous alteration and economical improvements. The improvements, however, could not have happened without the citizens. The new and young generation of arduous workers is slowly yet affectively transforming the nation. Just like each of the nine characters introduced in the video, the Chinese people work hard and continuously. The young people who received education from United States are coming back to China. They are restless. They are the ones who are changing China. The film’s title Young and Restless thereby clearly represents the current Chinese trend; young people working restlessly to make China more prosperous and worldly known.

Another possible title that fits the purpose of the video is Chinese Python. (Just kidding). If the negative sides of Chinese workers being money-blind and money-driven are to be emphasized, then I think a good title would be Indifference or Blindness. This title specifically targets the audiences to think about what the obsessions have resulted in and where they originated from. If the titles were to be a little more optimistic, a good title would be Evolution of China.

16. The Warrior Tradition

What are some of the universal requirements of becoming a warrior?

According to Wikipedia,

Warrior codes often have common features and usually value honour in the forms of faith, loyalty and courage. Examples include the medieval knights‘ code of chivalry, the Kshatriya code of Dharma in India or Japan’s samurai class which uses a warrior code known as Bushido (The Way Of The Warrior).

However, there are some features that Wikipedia has missed out. From our class discussions about various warrior-related films, books, and articles, I have narrowed down the Warrior Tradition into three main categories.

The first one is gender stereotype. For many centuries, and even nowadays, a warrior is considered a true warrior only if the warrior is a male.

Spaniard from Gladiator

Spaniard from Gladiator

The above video is a scene from Crouching Tiger. When the thief (played by Zhāng Zǐyí) appears, we can quickly realize that she is dressed up as a man. When the villagers yell out, “The thief has stolen the Green Destiny!” they automatically assume the thief to be a “he.” Indeed, most of the warrior movies star male warrior, like Gladiator, Conan the Barbarian, and Skywalkers from Star Wars.

The second noticeable characteristic of being a warrior is “Qi” (or Ch’i).

In traditional Chinese culture, qi () is an active principle forming part of any living thing. It is frequently translated as “energy flow”, and is often compared to Western notions of energeia or élan vital (vitalism) as well as the yogic notion of prana. The literal translation is “air”, “breath”, or “gas” (compare the original meaning of Latin spiritus “breathing”; or the Common Greek πνεῦμα, meaning “air,” “breath,” or “spirit”; and the Sanskrit term prana, “breath” ).

The “warriors” from the Eastern cultures, such as Bruce Lee, have definite composures and poises. They are able to express their inner potential energies and control their minds. Some Western movies, such as Star Wars, includes this theme of Qi. The universally-beloved cliche, “May the force be with you,” is an example of Westernized interpretation of Qi.

Last but not least, the warrior tradition embeds some supernatural elements, animalistic features, and the idea of origin, master, and “respect.” In the first two chapters of Woman Warrior, the readers can find numerous supernatural and animalistic insinuations in the warrior life. When Fa Mu Lan gets the training from the old couple, she learns the movements of animals.

Every creature has a hiding skill and a fighting skill a warrior can use. (Pg.23)

She learns how to run with the deers, leap like a monkey, and be wary like the birds.

The idea of “respect” becomes evident in the film Crouching Tigers. No one ever dies (except for the one poor man). The goal of the warrior is not to kill, but to be respected and force the submissions from the losers. Also, in the film, the characters are able to identify the origin of the enemy by observing their moves. Their moves represent their masters.

Overall, the Eastern idea of warrior tradition focuses more on the themes of respect, supernatural, animals, gender role, and masters.