All posts tagged: Education

The legacy of Kim Bo-mi, South Korea’s first openly lesbian student president

  Interview with Kim Bomi, 26 December 2015 Video from HuffPost Korea This is a follow-up post to my previous post on Kim Bo-mi’s election at Seoul National University (November 2015). Kim, the first openly lesbian student president at Seoul National University and in the country, discusses her coming out prior to launching campaign activities as both a symbol of resistance towards the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” atmosphere in South Korean society as well as to be true to herself. Her primary concern before making the decision to come out to the public was on how her family would be impacted by her decision, since everyone, not just her friends and family, would be able to know that she was lesbian. But in the end, Kim decided that it was worth taking the risk. She hoped that her example would encourage those who wanted to be true to themselves, while acknowledging that those who chose to keep their private lives private should have the right to do so – and it seems that she has …

Seoul National University Elects Country’s First-Ever Openly Lesbian Student President

Kim Bomi with HankyorehTV (23 November 2015) Seoul National University (SNU), the mecca of Korean higher education and a source of admiration/grief for many high school students, has been home to QIS (Queen in SNU) since 1995. Their website has a roughly translated English version, and is mobile-friendly. Kim Bo-mi, a 22-year old at the Department of Consumer Science, ran unopposed and was elected with 86.8% of votes on a turnout of 53.3%. Kim has previously served as Vice-President of the Student Council (VP). She came out four days before the voting period (16th- 19th November), to much press coverage and public appraisal.  She and incoming VP Kim Min-seok (Dept. of Political Science and International Relations) campaigned for the following items To ban human rights violations, i.e. sexual assault and harassment To ban Protestant organisations from evangelising inside the campus To promote basic civic knowledge, i.e. CPR To recognise male students’ absences caused by army drills as justifiable Kim Bo-mi campaigned this August and September for the dismissal of two SNU professor accused of inflicting sexual violence on …

There’s a hagwon for that, you know

Featured image: Gangnam Daesung, one of the most “prestigious” hagwons in South Korea. Yes, there are hagwons for passing the bar. Korea is the land of hagwons and private tutoring. If you want to learn something, or more specifically, if you want to pass some exam, you name it, we have it. The following few paragraphs are a reconstruction of the “upper-middle class” Korean mom and daughter as they progress through hagwons – much of this from experience I have teaching at hagwons, as well as supplementary stories from my friends as both students and teachers, and to a large extent, by observing my aunt, who is one of those mums. * * * * * * * * * * It all starts in primary school: Ballet & Piano, then English & Maths. You want your kid to get a sense of art, so you send her off to piano lessons. Then, you hear about all those moms sending kids to English lessons and Maths lessons. You get anxious, because they teach stuff public schools …

Korea University in Photos

Today I visited the university I did my Bachelor’s at  to meet some friends, and took advantage of the beautiful weather to take some photos. There are so many international students on campus in fall, about 1400 this year, which is a lot considering only about 2000 new students are admitted every year. When I got to campus, a welcoming party was en route and a cheering session was planned for the evening. Media Hall, constructed 2013. View from Samsung Centennial Digital Library (Yes, it really is called that) Graduate school library, home to many frustrated doctorate candidates and postdocs who smoke outside the building looking glum. Close-up of one of the towers at graduate school library Basketball court – man pointing his finger is the traffic officer. Students eating Chinese delivery in front of the Main Hall, a designated historical site and administrative building. A group of students were gathering by the staircase for a group photo Posters promoting university societies, clubs, and graduate recruiting events Some of the posters read: “Calling all investors”, “Doosan …

Law Schools: Oh-oh, Here Comes Trouble!

Public prosecutors, including the first batch of Law School graduates, are sworn into office, 2012 Image source: Joongang Daily 2009, the year I entered university, was a remarkable year. It was the  first year Law Schools as 3-year postgraduate programs were introduced (same for Medical Science, but this topic really deserves another post). The goal was to “offer law (and medical) studies to a wider array of students, instead of discouraging them at the high-school level”. As a result, the Gosi System (사법고시, or ‘National Bar Exam’, but I will use the term ‘Gosi’ in order to distinguish it from the National Bar the current Law School graduates have to pass) will end in 2017. Instead, Law School graduates will have to pass the National Bar, a much simpler exam, in order to start practicing. A difference is that one does not need to hold a Bachelor’s degree in Law Studies in order to pass the Gosi, but one does with the new Law School system. In reality, prior to this, many high-scoring students would retake their …

My First Moral Dilemma In Korea

“Samsung Aptitude Test Center for New Recruits” Image source: Etoday News Yes, you read that right. A Moral Dilemma. And no, I’m not talking about political choice or anything fancy like that. Last year, approximately 100,000 graduates applied to take the SSAT, Samsung Aptitude Test. What? There’s a standardized exam to work for a private company? Just for a managerial job? And they rent entire school buildings for it? And people pay up to 200,000 KRW (approx. 200$ for online crash courses? And universities bring in private tutors and provide weeks or months-long courses to prep graduates? Well, actually, this may not have the shock value I was hoping for, since you already know I’m writing about South Korea. But anyway. Despite the booming economy in East Asia (as compared to the US and Western Europe anyway), it’s becoming tougher and tougher to find a job in South Korea, especially if you’re leaving university with only a Bachelor’s degree. What? Isn’t that what BA graduates do, go work in companies, just precisely because they didn’t want …

LGBT Poster vandalized on university campus…yet again!

Korean LGBT folk have it pretty bad. In fact, they’re not too surprised to be targeted, teased, or discriminated. It’s just the way things have been, and continue to be. In fact, a gay friend told me that back in the early 2000s when he was in university, LGBT societies would get student Christian groups gatherings in front of their club room, sprinkle holy water on their door, and sing gospel songs “in order to save those poor souls being led astray by Satan”. This doesn’t happen anymore, maybe due to the fact that since then, LGBT societies would be given “anonymous” club rooms on campuses, disguising their namecards on the door or by merging many of their activities with the women’s rights groups. But university LGBT societies have constantly been unable to even welcome newly admitted students, like many other societies and clubs do – mostly because some crazy individuals acting in the name of the Christian religion keep vandalising their posters and placards. Although this is not the first time such an event has …