7/29/09

What if...

According to both English language papers in Korea: 2 of 3 Men Feel Urge to Flee From Home.

A poll by online recruiter Career said 66 percent of working men in their 30s
and older have felt the urge to flee from their homes and escape today's reality
in the past year due to suffocating economic difficulties. Forty-something men
turned out to have the strongest desire to run away with more than 72 percent of
them saying they wanted to take off, while men in their 30s followed next with
64 percent.

1) What percentage are actually leaving?
2) The survey I want to see is: what percent of their wives would like to see them leave.

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What if....Jon Huer actually made a point?

Regular Korea Times contributor Jon Huer has some haters. I don't count myself among them yet. In the three weeks I have been reading his columns I find myself wondering why (1) he bothered to write (2) I bothered to read.

Writers typically write to motivate readers, to inform them, or to get them to change the way they think. Huer says a lot, but not concisely. The musings don't get to a significant point. He does address many points, but in the way a salesman may approach the door of a potential client and talk without actually knocking on the door.

Today, he writes a "what-if" column about the arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates. I'm not saying an opinion writer should always avoid asking "what-if" questions, but I will say that it is the journalistic equivalent of taking a survey and then reporting on the survey as if it were major news. What-ifing when there is an actual case to be addressed is for children and intellectuals.

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Kim Seong-kon of Seoul National University opines that Korea's public education system has failed.

He quotes and notes:

* public school teachers say they can't control their students.
* private institute teachers are much more responsive, even calling when a child is late or absent for class.
* Koreans are beginning do ask: "Why do we need school when hagwon [private institutes] can do a better job?"

1) This should be another bloom off the rose when it comes to those who hail the success of public education in South Korea.
2) In America, it is said to be a right-wing conspiracy or an attempt to keep people stupid by questioning if public education has failed.

Kim concludes: "Such questioning shows that our public education system has largely failed and been utterly defeated by the more competent hagwon. Our secondary schools, which have degenerated into a battlefield for the college entrance exam and ideological warzone between radical and conservative teachers, are insolvent enterprises that need radical overhauling and restructuring in order to survive.

"Although Obama recently praised Koreans' unusual zeal for education, it is undeniable that our public education system is plagued by chronic problems. Hagwon thrive because people no longer trust public education. But the fever for hagwon is not normal. Hagwon entail many serious problems as their primary purpose is monetary profit, not education. We need to resuscitate our moribund public education system that has gone in the wrong direction for far too long.

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75 ways to make your life better

The papers could have done a public service by actually listing the 75 ways.

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I didn't grow up on a farm so one thing it takes some time getting used to in Korea is seeing the actual bodies of the various food I eat. Here's a photo from a "Buy Korean Food" event in Seoul yesterday.

In a related story, foreign travelers have fewer opportunities to eat Korean food at luxury hotels. Of course, the next complaint would be that foreign travelers skip Korea because they must eat Korean food at luxury hotels.

I guess not every hotel can be the COEX hotel. I went there a week or two ago, they had four menu options at 50,000 won each: Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and...Indian?

CJL