SKorea: 80% of foreign kids don’t attend school

December 31st, 2011 · Education and ESL, Foreigners, Surveys and Studies · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A study has found that foreign children who come to Korea for reasons including the remarriage of their parents experience difficulties in school life.

The Seoul Foundation of Women and Family (서울여성가족재단) announced on the 30th the results of its survey of 875 teenagers aged 7 to 18 staying in the country temporarily, finding that just 21.7% of them are attending elementary, middle, or high school.

The survey found that as they grow older they become less likely to attend school. The attendance rate was 56.4% for elementary school but 18.1% for middle school and a mere 3.1% for high school.

The organization said that “teenagers 15 or older staying in the country temporarily face the difficulty of being both in the confusion of puberty and coming from a multicultural family.”

“Educational authorities need to solve this problem with Korean language education, psychological aid, and advice,” it said.

The teenagers came to Korea either because their parents remarried or took Korean citizenship. Typically they have a foreign mother who marries a Korean man, then brings the children from their home country to Korea.

An official with the city said that “recently the Seoul Center for Multicultural Families Education (서울해비치다문화가족교육센터) has been working with the organizations Chung Mong-gu Foundation (현대차 정몽구재단) and the Center for Multiculturalism in Korea (한국다문화센터) and plans to offer Korean language and high school equivalency diploma lessons.”

North Korea cracking down on opposition

December 30th, 2011 · North Korea · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The Daegu human rights organization Good Friends (좋은벗들이) reported on the 29th that North Korea has been punishing the families of defectors by exiling them to the countryside.

The organization’s North Korea research center publishes a report titled “Today’s North Korea News,” according to which “authorities in North Korea are investigating families with a history of moving in and out of the frontier provinces to see if any of them are missing.”

Citizens who are discovered to be illegally crossing the border, secretly using mobile phones, or possessing South Korean products are also targets of the investigation, the report said.

The report said that “the new leadership is seeking to stamp out any opposition by imposing exile on families suspected to contain defectors… however, a bribe equivalent t0 one million South Korean won can get the exile cancelled, so in fact not many families of defectors have been exiled.”

Korea University molestation trial nearing finish

December 29th, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL, Legal news · 0 comments

After the trial ended in convictions in September, the Korea University medical students who molested a classmate brought appeals. Their victim spoke in open court for the first time, although it is not the first time she has spoken publicly.

Original article in Korean is at this link.

The victim in the Korea University medical student molestation case spoke in open court for the first time, tearfully asking the judge for a severe punishment.

On the 23rd the defense made its closing arguments in the trial of three Korea University medical students presided over by Judge Hwang Han-shik of the Seoul High Courts 8th criminal division.  The victim, Ms. A, then took the opportunity to speak which she had requested, saying that “I believe the judge will make a just decision. Please do not make me a victim again.”

Ms. A said that “it has been six months (since the incident) but I am still being hurt by it… (One of the defendants) Mr. Bae (25) considered suicide but I have those thoughts every day and cannot sleep even though I take sleeping pills.”

She added that “I have lost everything because of this. When I think of the pain I have every day and the rumors that Mr. Bae spread about me, these 18 months have been awful.”

Ms. A had previously testified in a closed courtroom, but she now spoke in open court for the first time.

Prosecutors have asked for a 30-month sentence for Mr. Park (23) and an 18-month sentence for Mr. Han (24), and 24 months for Mr. Bae.

Mr. Park and Mr. Han said “we deeply apologize to everyone,” and Mr. Bae said “I did not commit a crime. I am very depressed.”

The three were indicted after Mr. Park and Mr. Han used a mobile phone and a digital camera to videorecord themselves molesting Ms. A after she had passed out as they were drinking together in the city of Gapyeong, Gyeonggi-do, in May.

The sentence will be handed down at 10 am on February 3.

Daegu student suicide investigation is growing

December 28th, 2011 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL · 0 comments

The country is currently in an uproar over the heartbreaking case of a student in Daegu who was cruelly bullied by classmates and ended up committing suicide. Police are now suspecting that many more students than initially thought may have been involved.

Police investigating the suicide of a middle school student in Daegu are expanding their investigation beyond the two students named in the bullied student’s suicide note to include students who had spent time in the student’s home.

The Daegu Police Station announced on the 28th that after analyzing security camera footage of the entrance to the victim’s apartment building, four unidentified students appear to have repeatedly entered the victim’s home.

According to police, one of the students on the videotape is shown laughing with the victim.

However, the other three appear to be shown with the main suspect, B, assaulting and taunting the victim. Police are working to determine their identities.

Accordingly there are now seven students being sought in the investigation, including those named in the suicide note, at least six of whom are known to have bullied the victim.

Police have confirmed that student B logged in 845 times to the online computer game that he made the victim register for in March, and are using IP addresses to confirm how many times the victim logged in.

Also, on June 3rd alone someone purchased seven in-game items worth 70,000 won in total using student B’s ID. The victim’s financial account does not show any corresponding transfers.

Police have said they will not be seeking a search warrant for the game company because it is likely they can find the information through other means.

Once police have ascertained the relationships among the students they plan to confer with prosecutors and bring charges against three more students by this weekend.

Police have also found over 20 posts written about the victim by the accused students on a major internet portal site, raising the possibility of learning the identities of nine of them.

Police are considering punishing students other than those accused for violating communications law by spreading information about strangers.

Also, to prevent further harm, police plan to ask that internet posts be monitored and deleted if they contain information about the case.

Police said that the suicide of a female student at the same school in July may not have been a simple suicide and that student’s parents may have come into possession of related evidence at that time.

Kim Jong-un just keeps crying

December 27th, 2011 · North Korea · 0 comments

North Korean media has released new footage of Kim Jong-un re-visiting his father’s body lying in state. The footage shows him again weeping openly.

Seoul student rights bill disliked by national government

December 27th, 2011 · Education and ESL · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

It appears that the students’ rights ordinance in Seoul will be reconsidered. The Ministry of Science, Education, and Technology plans to ask the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education to reconsider. If the Ministry asks the city Office to reconsider, the Office must send revisions to the City Council.

Oh Seung-gyeol, head of school culture at the Ministry, said on the 23rd that “the government has clearly expressed its view that the students’ rights ordinance should be reconsidered… however, if SMOE does not request the City Countil to take action, we can do nothing.” The Ministry had previously said that “the ordinance did not consider the opinions of those it would affect and revisions to it should be considered.” The ordinance, which went into effect on the 19th, requires schools to permit candlelight vigils on school grounds, bans corporal punishment, allows freedom in hairstyles and dress, and permits homosexuality.

SMOE has said it would comply with a request for reconsideration. An official with SMOE said that “we are considering a request for revisions because we did consider the effect on grades… if the Ministry requests a reconsideration then SMOE will do so.” The Minister of Education has said he will send a request for reconsideration to those provincial and municipal offices of education which have already decided to reconsider.

If the ordinance is reconsidered it is not unlikely that the City Council will reject changes. Two out of three three council members must vote in favor for there to be changes. That means if 54 of the 87 council members vote in favor, it would fail.

Some say that reconsideration would improve the education environment. Jeong Mun-jin, a Grand National Party member of the committee on education, said that “we must consider not only student rights but also the educational environment.”

Most-read articles of the week — December 25, 2011

December 25th, 2011 · Stories of the Day/Week/Year · 0 comments

Top 10 in society.

1. The debate over whether the death of Kim Jong-il will bring more positive or negative change.

2. After a 53-year old woman died suddenly of a stroke, her son learned about the many people she had helped in secret when they came to the funeral.

3. A woman in Seoul who had gotten very drunk at a holiday party was struck and killed by a train.

4. An in-depth interview with the “McDonald’s grandma” who rejects the belief that she is the original doenjang-nyeo.

5. Park Dae-seong, the man accused by the government of being the internet economic critic Minerva, took the stand in his lawsuit in Seoul.

6. A man in Seoul was arrested on charges of drinking over 100 million won worth of booze in a room salon and refusing to pay the bill.

7. A high school student committed suicide, which her parents say is because of unrelenting ostracism at school.

8. Singer Ali revealed that she was sexually abused as a child and met with the father of Na-young, the young girl who was brutally raped and assaulted two years ago.

9. A 27-year old woman in Dongducheon died of extremely high blood pressure after giving birth.

10.A 38-year old woman died after a large amount of ice fell on her as she was photographing it.

Top 10 in politics.

1. The government’s reaction to Kim Jong-il’s death.

2. An initial report of KJI’s death.

3. Another early report.

4. Another early report.

5. Speculation on where Kim Jong-un was when his father died.

6. The first public reveal of KJI’s corpse.

7. A look at how Kim Jong-un may handle  the reins of power.

8. An early report of the dictator’s death.

9. Kim Jong-un will be the leader after 2 years and 3 months of being readied to take power.

10. Another early report of the death.

A Merry Christmas to everyone celebrating. Just to get you in the mood for celebrating, the Herald Kyoungjae reports about the rising cost of, well, everything is making Christmas a more expensive proposition. In particular, Christmas cakes can no longer be had for 10,000 won, typically costing twice that much now for a small one.

TOEIC scores still dominant in Korea

December 24th, 2011 · Education and ESL · 0 comments

Original article in Korean is at this link.

A study has found that university students believe their TOEIC score is the qualification that will matter most to future employers.

The education company Hackers English announced on the 24th the results of its survey of 431 university students and teenagers looking for jobs, finding that the largest number believe TOEIC scores to be the most important qualification.

37.6%, or 162, of the respondents chose TOEIC scores, while 35.7% chose extracurricular abilities. 12.3% chose speaking skills, 7.9% chose language study, and 6.5% chose GPA.

An official at Hackers said that “this the result of applicants being required to put their TOEIC scores on the first stage of paperwork for a job and its continuing importance of it as an objective measure…With companies using English interviews and emphasizing business English ability, scores on English exams are a permanent, important part of applying for a job.”

Kim Jong-il may have died at summer villa

December 23rd, 2011 · North Korea · 0 comments

The English Chosun Ilbo, relying partly on a Japanese news report, says that Japanese intelligence has told Seoul they believe that Kim was actually at his summer villa when he died. The Japanese believe he collapsed on the 15th, not the 17th, and may have died then, making the delay of the announcement actually four days. A progressive Korean politician says he has received similar information. So perhaps the speculation over where Kim Jong-il died is justified.

Reports of Kim’s death in North Korean media may not be very accurate, but they’re certainly a lot more entertaining than what we’ve got going over here.

South Korea’s newspapers react to Kim Jong-il death

December 23rd, 2011 · North Korea · 0 comments

Working from Naver’s archive of editorials on the death of Kim Jong-il, I’ve put together the following summary of how the major South Korean newspapers reacted to the event.

1. The Kyunghyang Shinmun looked forward to possible improvements in the relationship between North Korea and South Korea.

2. The Kukmin Ilbo called for the government to prevent a financial panic.

3. The Dong-A Ilbo looked back over the disastrous history of North Korea and Kim Jong-il.

4. The Maeil Kyoungjae criticized South Korean intelligence for failing to detect that Kim had died until the belated announcement was made on North Korean television.

5. The Munhwa Ilbo briefly reviewed the history of Kim Jong-il’s reign and what his death could mean for the future. It believes that Kim Jong-un may order some small attacks on the South to shore up his support, similar to the attacks on the Cheonan and Yeongpyenong-do, which the paper blames him for.

6. The Seoul Shinmun considered the possible outcomes of Kim Jong-un failing to be a strong leader, such as a mass increase in refugees crossing the border.

7. The Segye Ilbo blamed the collapse of the Kim Jong-il system for the fact that the succession will be fraught with danger, and called security the number one priority right now. The paper is also very concerned about the South’s intelligence failure.

8. The Chosun Ilbo, in the lengthiest and most hanja-heavy editorial of the bunch, looked over Kim Jong-il’s time in power and worried that Kim Jong-un will not be able to hold the country together. The paper also lamented that the 24 million citizens of North Korea were sacrificed to the needs of Kim Jong-il and the North’s desire for nuclear weapons. It said the South’s first priority should be to prevent an increase in their suffering caused by a military build-up; the second should be to achieve nuclear disarmament; and the third should be to relieve the suffering in the North in other ways.

9. The Joongang Ilbo called Kim’s death an opportunity to join the histories of two nations sharing one ethnicity, and that “more than anything” both nations need to treat Kim’s death as a chance to begin a new era.

10. The Hankyoreh called peace the most important thing on the Korean peninsula right now. The paper wants South Korea to work with its allies but also play more of a leading role.

11. The Hankuk Ilbo looked over the Kim Jong-il’s life a bit and said that there will inevitably be large changes in North Korea. It warned against pessimism even though the risks are great.

12. The Korea Economic Daily called for better collaboration with the nation’s allies; the protection of national security and the economy; and direct communication with the North, as well as for everyone in the South to basically work together.