Extra! Korea

June 30, 2009

Unhappy young Koreans

Filed under: education, youth — extrakorea @ 1:55 pm

We already knew that young Koreans were the unhappiest in the OECD. Now we can add a developing country, China, to the list of countries with teens that are happier than Korea’s.

In related news, you can read about a book about Koreans in their 20s, written by an author who is in that age cohort.

Also, there is an exhibition of photo focusing on Korean teens. Teachers in Korea will have probably seen something similar to “Sleeping in the classroom.”


Looking for ethnic restaurants? Here you go!

Filed under: drinking, food — extrakorea @ 12:10 pm

If you’re looking for ethnic restaurants, the Korea Herald has made a nice chart.

I also recommend the following pages from the website Galbijim.

—> Restaurants

—> Ethnic Restaurants

—> Ethnic Restaurants in Seoul

Just go to a link that appeals to you and navigate your way around.

Another excellent resource is this map that Roboseyo made.

Was BoA’s performance at SF Pride well-received?

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 7:38 am

According to All K Pop and the Korea Times, BoA’s performance at SF Pride was well-received. You can judge for yourself by watching fan-cam footage: One, Two, and Three. (You can also trawl through the Search results.)

She had something, I’m not sure what, on the side of her face. Oh well, gays are known for their good fashion sense, so if they liked it …


By the way, those who dismiss this as a negligible gig should keep in mind that last year, SF Pride featured Lady Gaga, who is now a star.

Jang Ja-yeon’s former manager to be deported to Korea Friday

Filed under: actors/actresses, celebrities, crime, gender equality, suicide — extrakorea @ 6:46 am

Kim Sung-hoon, the former head of late actress Jang Ja-yeon’s management agency, is to be deported to Korea this Friday.
If you’d like to throw eggs at this piece of human filth, he’ll arrive at Incheon International Airport at 3:20 p.m., on Korean Air flight KE702.

Guess who sponsored the Canadian texting championships?

Filed under: technology — extrakorea @ 6:37 am

Toronto’s 16-year-old Kathy Spence won the Canadian texting championship and took the prize of $25,000 Canadian. Guess who the sponsor was?

a. LG Electronics
b. Motorola
c. Nokia
d. Samsung
e. Sony Ericsson

Answer is, like, here, dude.

A review of the Wonder Girls’ performance in Portland

Filed under: music — extrakorea @ 6:12 am

As you are probably aware, the Wonder Girls are currently on tour as an opening act for the Jonas Brothers. Here is a review of their first performance, in Portland.

Following Honor Society was a unique all-girl band from South Korea called Wonder Girls. Dressed in 60’s chic (think The Supremes), Wonder Girls is an odd infusion of retro cool and bubble gum pop. I don’t think that the audience for the Jonas Brothers really knew what to make of them. Their first set, a single song, was so short it was hard to get a real sense of them. Wonder Girls performed a second number after Jordin Sparks’s set and an introduction by Paul Jonas (the Jonas Brother’s father) called Nobody. The song itself was pretty catchy but the dance that went along with it could only be described as odd. It’ll be interesting to see if this Asian super group will find traction with American audiences. It could go either way.

Unfortunately, that reminds of when I used to write report cards for students. If I had difficulty thinking of something positive, I would write, “Has potential.” At least their tune was described as “pretty catchy.” They can fix their costumes and/or dancing after some feedback. So how were the other opening acts received?

First to meet this adoring crowd was the relatively new Honor Society, a band who described themselves as a ‘Myspace Band’ (or a band that built its following initially from myspace). While Honor Society only played a handful of songs, the audience responded exceptionally well to them. The final song from Honor Society, ‘See U in The Dark’, was the clear favorite of their set. The song snapped and popped like a good pop anthem, noticeably elevated from the rest of their set and is sure to become a hit. I was surprised at how short the set was; I would have expected them to do another song or two especially considering how well they were received.

[ snip ]

Jordin Sparks, who I had seen a few years back, performed a much stronger set than the last time I saw her. Sparks had a much higher level of comfort on stage and seemed to connect well with the audience. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough of spark in her performance and even her signature single “No Air” didn’t have the punch that it should have. The highlight of Sparks’s set was a rendition of Pretty Young Thing (PYT) in tribute to Michael Jackson, which Sparks performed with more energy and spunk than the rest of her set. Sparks seems constantly on the brink of breaking out and I think a lot of the raw goods are there, but she seems to be lacking the right material to bring her to the next level.

If you’d like to see how they did for yourselves, you can check out some fan-made videos (one, two, and three) courtesy of Pop Seoul.

June 29, 2009

Korean English teachers study English at institutes to prepare for English-only classes

Filed under: education, languages — extrakorea @ 2:21 am

The Korean government plans to have English classes in public schools to be taught entirely in English by the year 2012. In preparation, some Korean English teachers are taking English classes at “hogwons” (education institutes).

Yonsei University professor wants another ex-president to commit suicide

Filed under: education, North Korea, politics, suicide — extrakorea @ 2:12 am

Kim Dong-gil, a professor at Yonsei University, is evidently going two-for-two, as far as progressive ex-presidents go. Earlier, he wrote that Roh Moo-hyun should commit suicide over a bribery investigation. Days later, ex-president Roh jumped off a cliff to his death.
Now professor Kim want Kim Dae-jung to kill himself because he believes that it’s the ex-president’s failed Sunshine Policy that has enabled North Korea to arm itself with nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The cherry on top of the icing on the cake is the way he phrased it: He told Kim Dae-jung “to throw himself off from the nearest cliff.” Very sensitive and empathetic.
I guess he doesn’t like progressives. One down (no pun intended), one to go, I suppose.

June 27, 2009

Would you want these students to become your doctor or pharmacist?

Filed under: education, health, idiots — extrakorea @ 3:33 am

Korea Beat has reported that a group of pharmacology students at Seoul National University were caught cheating on an exam, and that this follows a similar incident last year in which pre-med students were also caught cheating. Their punishment? The medical students were given “various punishments including demotion,” whatever that means. A Korea Herald article on the same topic stated that, “The school only issued warnings to the students.” Either way, it’s clear that the students received extremely light punishment, especially in light of the fact that, in the future, they will be making life-or-death decisions based upon their “knowledge.” Certainly, something harsher was merited.
And the pharmacology students?

The cheating was brought to light after a student posted an article on the SNU Intranet that some pharmacy college students cheated in exams.

In their reply to the article, some cheaters responded, “So what?”

That’s a nice attitude to have, since faulty knowledge on a pharmacist’s part could lead to a patient’s death. And their punishment?

“We will look into the case and those who were involved will get zero scores,” said Seo Young-geo, dean of the college.

What a joke. Anyone who teaches at a Korean university knows that the only way to fail is through excessive absences. A score of zero is still a pass, albeit a grade of D. But students can always take the course over again, and the old mark is expunged from their record as if it had never existed.

This is one reason why Korea is not a good place to get sick or injured in. You can never be sure that a doctor or pharmacist legitimately passed their medical exams. If you can, get a second opinion, but be surreptitious about it. Korean doctors become offended if they learn that you’re gotten a second opinion, seeing it as an affront on their authority. The way I see it, if they don’t want their competence challenged, they they should pass their medical exams fair-and-square, and lobby their universities to adhere to strict standards. Every cheater is an albatross around the neck of every alumni.

By the way, cheating on tests is referred to in Korea as “cunning,” and is only seen as negative if you are caught. It’s negative because you were stupid enough to get caught, not because what you did was morally or ethically wrong. If you successfully cheat, then it’s actually seen as positive, because it demonstrates how clever you are (thus, “cunning”).

I give up trying to guess about North Korean succession

Filed under: Kim Jong-il, North Korea — extrakorea @ 1:49 am

Not too long ago, I posted about how there might, finally, be some concrete evidence that Kim Jong-il’s third and youngest son, Jong-un, might be being groomed to be his heir. Now I might have to eat crow. I wrote:

The Rodong Sinmun, the North’s main newspaper published by the Workers’ Party, on Tuesday quoted Kim [Jong-il] as recently saying, “A revolutionary tradition created by our founding leader (Kim Il-sung) is the strong root of our party and its revolution. Our revolution has been successful because the blood of juche (self-reliance) has been inherited by successive generations.” (emphasis mine)

But now:

The North Korean press frequently used terms such as “bloodline to revolutionary ancestors,” “successor to the revolution,” or “let’s succeed to the cause of juche (self-reliance) revolution.” But experts point out that it is hard to link these phrases specifically to Kim Jong-un, given that they were used in the past too.

Brilliant Comrade“? Never heard of him.

In a telephone conversation with a North Korean refugee, a driver for a senior party official in Hoeryong, North Hamgyong Province said he had never heard the name Kim Jong-un before, and few North Koreans know about him. A former soldier who recently fled North Korea said, “Neither Kim Jong-un nor the succession have ever been mentioned in lectures around military camps.”

[ snip ]

A former North Korean historian who studied the history of the North Korean revolution said, “It was beyond imagination how much effort North Korea made to establish the Kim Jong-il succession.” If Kim Jong-un becomes the heir apparent and power is to be handed down to a third generation of the Kim family, a new idol worship, a mixture of “bloodline” and the image of the “warrior of the leader,” would have been created, he said, but so far there has been no propaganda to that effect.

I give up.

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