Extra! Korea

November 2, 2010

Korean Christians intruded into Buddhist temples in Myanmar too

Filed under: Buddhism, idiots, multicultural society, rapid cultural change — extrakorea @ 10:11 am

You might remember this story, which described how Korean Christians had entered Buddhist temples in Seoul and Daegu and behaved disrespectfully.

It turns out that Korean Christians had intruded into Buddhist temples in Myanmar as well.

Korean Internet users quickly revealed another online video clip in which some Christian groups sing hymns inside a temple in Myanmar while Buddhist monks are present.

October 28, 2010

More on the Christians who held ceremonies in Buddhist temples

Filed under: Buddhism, idiots, multicultural society, religion — extrakorea @ 8:59 am

This has been mentioned before, but the Korea Times now has a more complete translation and story.

Some young Christians uploaded a video of themselves going to a Buddhist temple and being disrespectful of the premises and of the beliefs that they were built for.

The video [entitled “Conquering Bongeun Temple”] shows several students of a “Praise Academy” pledging their “mission” to get into the temple in southern Seoul, sing Christian hymns inside the sanctuary and speak out about their doctrine. The participants, whose faces were unidentifiable, said prayers out loud and criticized the temple facilities.

The clip showed one saying, “I was devastated to see the scenery of idolatry and idols. They are all useless and harmful.” Another said, “I proclaim that the place belongs to God. I believe that I was sent to reclaim God’s territory.”

[ snip ]

Rev. Choi Ji-ho, who leads AS37, the group that runs the academy, visited the leaders of the temple and the order with those who appeared in the video clip on Wednesday and apologized for their actions.

“They were given the task to sing on large roads, near Gangnam Metro Station. I don’t know why they chose the temple, but it was a terrible and offensive thing to do,” he said. “I didn’t know what they did and moreover, that they would make it so public by releasing video clips. It was ignorant and disrespectful.”

Ven. Myeongjin [who heads Bongeun Temple] said he would accept the apology for the peace and harmony among religions.

Observers said the incident is just one example of outrageous actions performed by some Protestants these days under the name of their “mission.”

Apparently, another group in Daegu has done something similar.

The clip also contains scenes of Protestants giving praise inside the temple. The group also claimed in their video that they are doing whatever they can to resist the government’s support for the Buddhist templestays program and the establishment of a Buddhist theme park.

I think that all Koreans, whether Buddhist or not, should realize that a lot of their heritage is expressed through Buddhist things like temples, statues, etc. Moreover, these are the kinds of things that foreigners come for, and if they truly value their tourism industry, they’ll think about that. The Egyptians, even though they are now Muslim, realize the value of things like the Sphinx and the pyramids, even though they are pagan artifacts.

October 8, 2010

Incident in Itaewon: One article says two foreigners, others says one

Filed under: crime, expatriates, idiots, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 11:31 am

Korea Beat has translated a Korean-language articles that says:

Controversy is spreading after a video showing two young foreigners assaulting a white-haired elderly man began spreading on the internet.

(Emphasis mine.)

The entire article repeatedly states that there were two foreigners involved:

The 1:43 video … two foreigners … The two foreigners … they … the foreign men …

This seems to be the same incident described in other articles (which were translated at the Marmot’s Hole) which clearly stated that there was only one foreigner.

So which account was correct? If you watch the video (below), you can see for yourself that there was only one assailant. Clearly, the people at cbs.co.kr are a bunch of morons. Or too lazy to even watch the video footage in question. Or too stupid and lazy to watch said footage.

(Caution: Video contains foul language and violence against the elderly.)

October 7, 2010

MC Mong formally charged with trying to avoid military service, is still a douche

Filed under: celebrities, crime, idiots — extrakorea @ 8:47 am

Remember the rumours that MC Mong had pulled out healthy teeth in order to avoid doing his mandatory military service? He has been indicted and will go on trail. Frankly, I’m happy. In addition to the fact that Mong is a plagiarizer and makes ignorant music videos, this also means that there will be one less buffoon on Korean TV. If only there were some way to get Kang Ho-dong permanently off the air.

September 15, 2010

Kang Shin-who is at it again

Filed under: (lack of) journalistic integrity, idiots, media irresponsibility — extrakorea @ 5:41 am

You know him. You love him. (Well, maybe not.) He’s the two-time Journalist of the Month, Kang Shin-who, and you’ll never guess whom he’s trained his cross-hairs on this time. Go on, guess. Foreign teachers! I bet you never saw that coming, since he’s never done that before.

The government has made efforts to set up more foreign schools as a means to create an environment friendly to foreign investors. However, these schools?accounting [sic] and other operations have not been supervised by the authorities.

Actually, the article does bring up some points that are valid discussion topics. For example:

“Teaching without a license could be problematic, but we cannot intervene in the matter as it should be handled by the education ministry,” said an immigration official.

“We, as a law enforcement agency, are just checking drug and criminal records of teachers.”

At the same time, experts say the turnover rate for teachers is very high compared to those of Singapore and other nations. In the case of Singapore, many teachers at international schools stay for more than 10 years on average, but it comes down to two to five years for teachers at foreign schools here.

However, there are just a few problems with the article.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, so we don’t know if the information is accurate.  He has been outright wrong with his facts before.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, so we don’t know if the quotes are accurate.  If the quotes are not to his liking, he’ll just make them up.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, a member of the hate group Anti-English Spectrum.  He claims that he became a registered member only for the purpose of gathering information. I’m sure that we can trust that 100%.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, who, in the past, has both used his own, personal definitions of “unqualified” as well as shifted from the term “unqualified” to “ineligible” to “inadequate” so as to make sure that the umbrella term is large enough to put whomever you want under it.

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, who in the past has conflated two different, unrelated topics (e.g. “unqualified” teachers and sex crimes against minors; “unqualified” teachers and consensual sex between Koreans and foreigners).

– It’s written by Kang Shin-who, and so some people will, after seeing the author’s name, not want to read it.

September 12, 2010

Did the big mouth on “Korea’s Paris Hilton” get her family tax audited?

Filed under: celebrities, idiots — extrakorea @ 1:51 pm

To the long list of “Korea’s _______ ” (e.g. Rain is “Korea’s Usher,” but he’s also “Korea’s Justin Timberlake”), we can now add “Korea’s Paris Hilton,” Kim Kyeong-ah. If you don’t know who she is, read about her here and here.

Like any celebrity in Korea, she attracted the criticism of netizens. Unlike other Korean celebrities, some of whom will commit suicide after receiving cheap shots from these keyboard warriors, she defiantly struck back.

“Keep yapping away. I’m going to go play at Roppongi Hills tomorrow. No matter how inferior you feel, I won’t blink an eye.”

That may have been a mistake. Netizens will fight tooth-and-nail to have the last word, even though they will only do such “fighting” behind a keyboard, safely behind a veil of anonymity. They contacted the National Tax Service regarding the luxurious gifts that she says she receives from her parents.

Up to 30 million WON is nontaxable if given to an adult son or daughter, and up to 15 million WON for minors.

The director of the National Tax Service had this to say:

“Once we confirm Kim’s personal information and the truth of her claims on broadcast, we will be taking strict action against her.”

A congressman, Lee Yong-seop, weighed in:

“As Kim Kyeonga-ssi earns more fame, a lot of citizens have been feeling deprived. The truth must be investigated and proper action must be taken.”

Furthermore, it looks like the tax audit would target not only her, but her parents as well.

Now Kim is claiming that she was playing a role, and that the show was scripted:

“I read the script the broadcasters prepared for me. The majority of the broadcast is different from reality.”

Apparently, some concrete discrepancies between the televised image, and the real Kim, have already surfaced:

According to the authorities who set out to confirm Kim’s situation after the whole “Korean Paris Hilton” controversy, Kim’s parents are not wealthy enough to be able to provide Kim with billions of KRW (approx. millions of USD) as pocket money. Also, Kim, who was introduced as an unmarried woman on-air, has been revealed to be married to a husband working a white-collar job, meaning that her husband is not extremely wealthy either.

Kim, according to sources familiar with the matter, does live in Non Hyeon Dong (an expensive neighborhood), but the townhouse, registered in the name of her husband, is far from luxurious. Furthermore, the luxurious car worth 300 million KRW (approx. $300,000) does not appear to be real either.

[ snip ]

Even if it turns out that the producers of “Tent in the City” were deceived by Kim, and not the other way around, the producers will still be criticized for not checking the authenticity of the content in advance.

Kim is currently in Japan (remember Roppongi Hills?), and says that she will return to Korea, whereupon she will reveal the truth.

July 13, 2010

Konglish-teaching robot is an epic FAIL

Filed under: education, idiots, languages, technology — extrakorea @ 9:35 am

The New York Times brings us the story of Engkey, a robot with a Konglish name.

Enter Engkey, a teacher with exacting standards and a silken voice. She is just a little penguin-shaped robot, but both symbolically and practically, she stands for progress, achievement and national pride.

She won’t stand for progress or achievement if she’s a failure.

“Not good this time!” Engkey admonished a sixth grader as he stooped awkwardly over her. “You need to focus more on your accent. Let’s try again.”

“Accent”? We all have an accent; which one depends upon where we’re from. While “accent” can also mean “stress” (as in syllable, not syllable), the word “stress” is used more often, especially in pronunciation text books. And also, what is the student saying wrong? A good teacher should be able to give feedback so that the student knows what they’re doing wrong and can self-correct.

Engkey, a contraction of English jockey (as in disc jockey), is the great hope of Choi Mun-taek, a team leader at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology’s Center for Intelligent Robotics.

So that’s why the robot has a Konglish name.

“How can I help you today?” Engkey said.

“Do you have any fruits on sale?” the student said.

“Wow! Very good!” Engkey exulted. She sounded a fanfare, spun and raised her left arm for a high-five. A screen on her chest showed stars grading the student.

Uh, Engkey? How about actually answering the student’s question (e.g. “Yes, apples are 20% off today.”)?

Still, Engkey has a long way to go to fulfill her creators’ dream. The robot can help students practice only scripted conversations and is at a loss if a student veers off script, as Yang did during the demonstration.

“I love you,” the boy said to appease Engkey after he was chastised for a bad pronunciation. Engkey would have none of it; it was not in her programmed script.

“You need to work on your accent,” the robot repeated.

So the robot responds to everything that’s not in its programming with the same stock answer? It responds to grammatical errors, incomplete sentences, inappropriate responses, etc., with the same criticism of the student’s pronunciation? That is so inadequate as to be almost criminal.

And anyone who’s worked with kids, or even just has been a kid, can see where this could go.

* * *

Engkey: How can I help you today?

Student: I’m just looking, thanks.

Engkey: You need to work on your accent.

Student: There’s nothing wrong with my accent.

Engkey: You need to work on your accent.

Student: You not a very smart robot, are you?

Engkey: You need to work on your accent.

* * *

Actually, one kid was thinking exactly the same thing as I.

When Yang said, “I don’t like apples” instead of “I love apples,” as he was supposed to, Engkey froze. The boy patted her and said, “Hello, are you alive or dead?”

And look at this public relations spin:

Even though they are little more than fancy toys, experts say, these robots prepare children for a fast-approaching robotic future.

If they “are little more than fancy toys,” as they admit, then how do they prepare children for the future? You prepare kids through education, and toys don’t educate.

Here is the most damning bit:

An independent evaluator of the trial noticed that Engkey required the constant presence of a technical operator.

If it requires the constant presence of a technical operator, then that means that there has to be two people working the classroom, just like now. The only difference is that instead of two teachers, there’s a teacher and a robot operator, which brings me to something earlier in the article:

Over the years, this country has imported thousands of Americans, Canadians, South Africans and others to supplement local teachers of English. But the program has strained the government’s budget, and it is increasingly difficult to get native English speakers to live on islands and other remote areas.

Since you will still need two people who will have to be paid, then how do these robots help ease the supposed strain on the government’s budget? Instead of paying a foreign teacher, you’ll be paying a Korean robot operator. This reminds me of a great quote by a guy (his username was Billybrobby) who used to post on Dave’s esl cafe (before it became pretty much useless).

“It’s no coincidence the Japanese and Koreans are working hard on building robots now. Their aversion to co-existing with people from other countries is so great that they’d rather co-exist with robots.”

Here’s a honest evaluation:

“Engkey has a long way to go if it wants to avoid becoming an expensive yet ignored heap of scrap metal at the corner of the classroom,” said Ban Jae-chun, an education professor at Chungnam National University.

You said it.

Dr. Choi said his team was racing to improve the robot’s ability to recognize students and to discern and respond to a student’s voice amid noise. It is also cramming Engkey with more conversational scenarios.

That’s all? How about programming Konglishbot to respond to not respond to grammatical errors with admonitions about the student’s pronunciation?

This all reminds me of this teacher’s comment:

I’m currently teaching in South Korea (and yes, there are always job openings… though less than usual, with the recession on). I teach at two public elementary schools, one of which is on the extreme outskirts of the city and only has 46 students. For some reason, this tiny school got an English robot called the Cybertalker, which uses voice recognition and some kind of face recognition to tailor pre-made conversations to students. The only time I’ve seen the thing turned on was in the frantic lead up to a school inspection, when my English classes were cancelled in favour of registering all the students in the system and trying to make it perform for the school board officials. Even with days of practice, the students couldn’t make it respond – even the almost fluent teachers couldn’t make it recognize their English. These are the crappiest teaching robots in existence. A Speak and Spell would be more useful.

Read the blog post by Brian that I got this from. It has a lot of information, links, and thought.

This makes me think of a post that I saw over at the ROK Drop blog regarding how to make an efficient army. (What follows is a paraphrase from my recollection, so it could be very inaccurate.). The priorities should be: training, then leadership, then fancy equipment, not the other way around. Give fancy guns to poorly-trained soldiers, and they’ll panic when they’re under fire, rendering the fancy toys almost useless. By contrast, give mediocre guns to well-trained solders, they’ll keep cool under fire, know what to do, and do it. In the same way, give fancy toys to poorly-trained (or untrained) teachers, and they’ll just waste the students’ time in an amusing way with lots of bells and whistles. Give a well-trained teacher something that’s not so sexy (e.g. textbooks), and they’ll be good to go. Unfortunately, the Korean public school system is trying to save money by letting go or hesitating to hire the most-qualified foreign teachers, and keeping, hiring, and seeking the least-qualified foreign teachers. Back-asswards.

June 23, 2010

Isn’t this guy annoying?

Filed under: idiots — extrakorea @ 4:43 am


He’s not there anymore. Huh. Well, I’m not complaining.


Original Post:

Isn’t this guy annoying? Every time I try to read a Korea Times article, he’s impossibly distracting. Oh well, maybe I should be reading a real newspaper anyway.

June 21, 2010

Why schools can’t teach creativity: parents

Filed under: education, idiots — extrakorea @ 3:34 am

Kim Jin-sung was a professor at Korea University until he resigned and became the principal of Hana Academy Seoul, with the grand vision of creating a learning environment that was unique in that it would do more that just emphasize rote-memorization. In addition to normal lessons, the student participate in extracurricular activities (such as learning musical instruments and playing sports) and volunteer work.

“These extracurricular activities are designed to harmonize students’ physical, cultural, ethical and intellectual qualities,” said Kim Jin-sung, principal of Hana, who came to the school after resigning as a professor at Korea University with the vision of establishing an elite institution like Eton in Korea. “The ultimate goal is to make Hana Academy Seoul an outstanding educational institution that does not only focus on college admissions.”

Unfortunately, he’s run into a snag: parents.

“Enhancing creativity is good, but how can our children get into elite universities if they don’t study as much as other high school students?” a parent asked Kim Seung-yu, the founder of Hana Academy Seoul, at a parent-teacher conference held on May 24. “If our children don’t get admissions to prestigious universities from doing too many extracurricular activities, who will be responsible?”

January 17, 2010

Foul-mouthed teacher encapsulates what’s wrong with education here

Filed under: education, idiots — extrakorea @ 1:16 pm

First and foremost, the author of this article is not given, and since it’s a Korea Times article, we should take everything with a big grain of salt, since they have reporters like Kang Shin-who under their employ.

Now, onto the story of an “exceptional” teacher.

Woo Hyung-chul, 46, teaches math at a private institution or hakwon in Seoul that prepares students to get into colleges.

There are many teachers like him in Korea where education is a religion. But Woo stands out among them because his pedagogical approach is different.

“Don’t throw an unrealizable goal to students on the first day.” That’s one of the lessons he shares in an interview with Donga Ilbo on Saturday. “Students will find it beyond their reach and give up.”

Wow, what a revolutionary idea. In all of my years of teacher training and attending teachers’ conferences, I have never seen such “thinking outside of the box.” Amazing.

Most of Woo’s students are “problem kids” by some definition.

No, they are not. He teaches at a hogwon (private education institute), not at a public school. To attend his classes, you have to register, pay money, and go to class in your spare time. B.S.

They don’t do well academically.

How do we know that? Every school kid is dissatisfied with their marks (or at least their parents are).

Their attention span is short.

Thanks to computer games, cell phones, TV, and being spoiled rotten, this describes just about every kid.

But when they come to Yoo, their grades improve. If not, they at least have a good time laughing a lot.[1] And as days go by, these students’ grades also tend to pick up eventually.[2] So, he’s special.[3]

(Numbers are mine.)

1. The students grades improve. Unless they don’t. And if they don’t, at least their parents paid top dollar (or won) for their kids to laugh a lot.

2. Again, their grades tend to improve. Unless they don’t. Gee, that describes just about every teacher except for the most incompetent ones.

3. No, he is not.

Woo believes that when students don’t do well academically, it’s partly the teachers’ fault.

More “blame the teachers.” That’s always popular. No wonder people like him.

“You need to understand the teen culture to motivate them. When you motivate them, they do better academically,” he said.

More revolutionary ideas. I have never met a teacher who tried to learn about, say, Big Bang, to better understand their students. Nope. Never.

The secret of his approach lies in his three-step formula of “first apply sticks, then carrots, and show a vision.”

OK, so what would that vision be?

Being a good deliverer of knowledge isn’t enough, he says. “Students are not a memorizing machine. You should guide them to help find a life goal by meeting them on their terms,” he said. “Creating a common ground of understanding between you and students is critical.”

Wow, this guy has truly opened my eyes. I have never heard teachers criticize the over-emphasis on rote memorization in eduction here. Never. Neither have I ever met a teacher who asked their students about their life goals or tried to foster understanding with their students.

He prepares his lecture by watching a comedy program. He uses the jokes he picked up from the comedy show in “disarming students and opening their hearts.”

I’m all for using humor in the classroom to relax students, but it should be somehow related to the task or topic. Using class time to play a comedy program that’s not related in any way to the lesson? They can watch such comedies in their own time.

He also uses “shock and awe” strategy. This includes intentionally cursing them and an exaggerated gesture of beating them with a shovel.

To be fair, the wording is ambiguous, but suggests that he pretends to beat them with a shovel, and doesn’t actually do it. But even pretending is not cool. And cursing with vulgar language is definitely inappropriate behavior for a teacher.

If it were in the U.S., he would be probably in jail for doing so. But yeah, it’s Korea.

Yeah, and there are reasons for that. Corporal punishment is one thing. Beatings with a shovel are another. And a foul-mouthed American teacher wouldn’t be a teacher for very long.

The chemistry he creates with such non-conventional methods is formidably effective and his income proves it.

Wait a minute. His income proves his effectiveness? His income ?! They admitted above that some of his students have their grades improve, but some do not, just as with most other teachers. But he’s special. Because he plays comedy programs in class.

Sadly, this encapsulates a lot of what’s wrong with education here. People equate popularity with being good, so there’s a race for the lowest common denominator. At the university level, no one demands academic excellence from their students (who are capable of such) because no one wants to be unpopular. Students want to come in hungover, sleep, play with their cell-phones, go on dates, and participate in club activities, and woe to anyone who impedes that with, say, homework. A teacher who taught in Korea and then Japan said in a podcast that (I’m paraphrasing) the Japanese want teachers, while the Koreans want expendable, short-term entertainers. Koreans keep saying that they want qualified teachers, but they don’t really mean it. Actions speak louder than words.

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