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To Do List, Not To Do List

June 3, 2010

So here I am. Done with the sophomore year. Afraid of Junior year. Looking forward to graduation.

With just about one and a half of school left, I carefully reflect back on my sophomore year. When I was halfway through the year 09-10, I wrote down what I determined to do in the journal called, Good Bye 2009, Greetings 2010! Also, I completed a reflection on the first semester, which was mainly on what I need to learn. This time, it’s about what I’ve learnt. Through English 10 course, I became more familiar with literary terms. While reading Dracula, I obtained a thorough knowledge on Gothic Literature. Gothic Literature has many factors involved in the novel, including architecture, characterization, supernatural, love, and pathetic fallacy. Especially, as I was writing a one-paragraph essay on the elements of gothic, I was given more chances to familiarize myself with them by finding each of them in Dracula.

Another ability I’ve gained is finding themes in novels. I am currently reading Brave New World by Aldoux Huxley and detecting diverse themes in the novel. For example, Aldous Huxley’s message towards necessary sacrifice of individuals stands out in chapter 15. Also, I can now connect these themes to bigger ideas, including relating it to our society. When I was given the theme, ‘individuality is harmful to community,’ I was thinking, ‘Is that true in our society today? Is individuality still harmful to community?’

Literary device is something I learned through class. Before, I didn’t understand juxtaposition, irony, or the difference between metaphor and simile. Now, I can locate where those terms are used in the novel and with what purpose those terms were used for. And because I am now able to incorporate diverse literary devices in my writing, my sentences have become much more interesting. I can deliver my messages more directly and clearly.

Lastly, through Discussion Leaders Activity, I’ve learned how to ‘lead’ a class discussion. It was very difficult to create thoughtful questions and make sure that students come up with appropriate responses. The time management was also quite challenging. It seemed as though the group was always running out of time. I’ve improved on analyzing the key passages in the novel and reporting what I’ve found to the class. As a participant of the discussion, I learned how to answer questions creatively.

So that’s what I learned in a year worth of english course. There were many projects that required some hard work, while there were essays that needed to be written with tremendous amount of research. However, I am satisfied with my work today and proud that I’ve improved this much.

Dystopia? Utopia?…Brave New World?

May 20, 2010

Brave New World is an interesting novel; it describes a world in which people behave differently from those in today’s society. Despite the long time that has passed since current society, the society as delineated in the novel shares many things in common with the current world. The first similarity is the unescapable fact that appearance plays a crucial role when a society is judging an individual. Although many people tend to deny it, it is a proven fact that the current society takes appearance into their consideration when making judgements on an individual, which resulted in numerous people suffering painful plastic surgeries and become attractive. As more significance of appearance as a criteria for judgement is on the rise, the number of people deciding to do plastic surgery is increasing steeply.

Another similar phenomenon that the two worlds share is excessive spending. As one of the popular slogan is “ending is better than mending,” the controllers and the leaders of the society in the novel constantly encourages the public to exercise excessive spending that is so ridiculously close to conspicuous consumption. Many may have heard of the phrase, “the more stitches, the less riches.” Strangely enough, this phrase is not from the novel, but from the current society. Recently, a writer has expressed his concern towards Obama in, pointing out the similarities between President Obama’s economic vision and that in Brave New World. According to Mac Johnson, “Huxley thought the world he foresaw was a nightmare.  Barack Obama thinks it’s a sensible economic plan (and one that already incorporates most of the social planks of the Democrat Party platform).” This is eerie, because if small things from the novel are already becoming true, then it is not so illogical that other things will also do so in the future.

What about differences, then? Oh, there are still many things to yet to come, many changes yet to be made: caste system is one. In Brave New World, after being “decanted” in a building, the babies are “conditioned” as the society wants it to be. Not in our world. There are no Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and Epsilon in our world. Besides, there is no ‘conditioning,’ in the current society, which means no caste system at all. That causes another difference. Not everybody is happy in our world as they are in the society found in Brave New World.

Another conspicuous difference is the sexual openness. While sexual behavior is not openly encouraged in our society, even children tends to be expected to get involved in erotic games. In the novel, it is considered abnormal to avoid sexual contact. Furthermore, they think it ridiculous that current society did not expect children to enjoy erotic play.

So that was a little comparing and contrast for Brave New World and present society. So far, I’m enjoying the novel. It introduces a whole new level of dystopia. And yet, the thought that maybe the world presented in Brave New World is better at some point and the current society progressing towards that state comes up to my mind as I read it. With everybody being happy, with the conformity, with the orderness…maybe that’s what’s better for the world…maybe that’s what we should work to achieve.

Hippie Counterculture

April 26, 2010

Recently during United States History class, I’ve been listening to a lot of music piece related to Hippie Counterculture. Some of them include, “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie, “Okie from Muskogee” by Merle Haggard, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” by the Beatles, and “Imagine” by John Lennon. What I’ve been feeling often lately is that as we enter relatively recent historical age, my father is beginning to realize the subjects. For example, about two days ago, when my father and I were driving outside to dinner, the song “Imagine” came out through the car radio. So I told my father about the song, that I learned about this song during US History class and its purpose is to spread the idea of what it would be like to live in the ‘free’ world. Then, my father replied, “I know this song as well. It was pretty popular in my days.” My favorite song was Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” which was inspired by John Lennon’s son, Julian’s class mate Lucy. This song efficiently describes what one feels like when on drug. Take a look at this music video, and you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Pretty drowsy, huh? There’s even a rumor that the Beatles were on drug when they wrote the song. Really, if you take a look at the lyrics, “tangerine trees and marmalade skies” and “a girl with kaleidoscope eyes,” do urge you to enter a world full of pretty horses and daisies. The title is interesting once you take a look at it, for it stands for LSD, a type of drug. During this era, Hippies who were against the war protested peacefully by believing in ‘sharing the love’ and using drugs. For example, they had Woodstock Festival in 1969 was all about 3 days of peace & love, where people would just gather at a square in New York and ‘share the love’ for three days. Hippies Counterculture was a very interesting topic to study to me. Through these lessons, I’ve learned a lot of things about how people each reacted to the news of war.

Two Different Eyes

April 13, 2010

Last year, our school had to shut down for two days due to heavy snow. So, we had to make-up for one of those two days, where we had around 50 minutes of all seven blocks. On our school’s snow make-up day, english was my first block. I was pretty excited for that block, because we were watching a movie based on the book we are reading as a class currently: Dracula By Bram Stoker. And so, on that day, we brought in snacks, popcorn, chips, and drinks. There were two versions of Dracula; there was the one made considerably recently, in 1992, and one made long, long time ago before my parents were born (perhaps even before my grand parents were born), in 1931. We’ve all wanted to watch the recent one, because it was in color and there was Gary Oldman, who acts as Sirius Black in “Harry Potter”. However, when our teacher watched it prior to class to make sure that it was appropriate for school, she was surprised by the extreme violence and sexuality in the movie. Thus, we ended up watching the older version of Dracula.

The movie was very interesting. (Hey! I didn’t say that the old version was boring) It was very different from what I had expected it to be like. First of all, when Jonathan Harker arrived at the inn, the inn keeper tells Jonathan about everything without much consideration to it. When I read the text, I thought that the inn keeper would be more hesitant about revealing secrets to Jonathan. In addition, the atmosphere around the inn would be dark and mysterious. After all, weather is a very important factor in Gothic Literature. However, the mood was rather friendly and caring. All the villagers, instead of whispering scary words such as “witches” to Jonathan and making crosses at him as stated in the book, were more focused on persuading Jonathan not to go with eyes full of tears. I could slightly note the change in weather as Jonathan hit the road for Castle Dracula as it went darker and as cloud filled the sky. When Jonathan arrived at Castle Dracula, it was surprising that Count Dracula didn’t say, “come in, and come in at your own will.” That is one of the very important parts of the text, because it reveals the fact that vampires cannot force people to come in, except when they come it at their own will.

Also, when Dracula saw Jonathan bleeding, he was extremely calm. His eyes only glared at the blood for few seconds. This was strange, because on the book, it says Dracula “flew” across the room and grabbed tightly on to Jonathan’s neck. Also, Dracula’s wives were calmer than I thought. Moreover, Demeter, which is a boat Dracula takes to go to England, was named Vesta in the movie. What’s more, Renfield was on it  to assist Dracula on the ship. Last but not least, the MOST unexpected thing was the fact that Mina was Dr. Seward’s daughter!! How could this be?! It was just unbelievable travesty of truth.

Overall, it was interesting to see that one could interpret the same text this way. The movie was different from what I had imagined, although it was entertaining.

The Gift of Learning

April 11, 2010

Henry L. Doherty once said, “Get over the idea that only children should spend their time in study. Be a student so long as you still have something to learn, and this will mean all your life.”

Unbelievable,huh? He’s telling us to keep learning till our death! It’s true, thou. There are always something you haven’t learn; you will have loads of things to put into your little heads even if you are at the 80s. But then you might ask, ‘what’s so good about learning?’

Well, I’d like to reply by leaving you guys with few popular quotations regarding education.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” And I full-heartedly agree with him. As a part of evolving society, everyone has the obligation to keep up with the society. No matter at which point you stand at—child or adult, doctor or consultant, student or teacher—you will need to constantly pick up new information or facts. My father is a business consultant, who has been very successful throughout his life. As a popular consultant working at a popular company as a partner at the moment, his face frequently shows up on the newspaper. There is an old joke in Korea that says people who keep a job over 40 are spies, people who keep a job over 50 are ghosts. This reflects the difficulty in keeping a job after the 40th birthday: most people either get fired or choose to retire because they want to rest. At this point, you may be wondering, ‘yeah, man…your father’s awesome…but so what?’ Well, I’m certainly not telling you this mainly to boast around. I shared this with all of you to tell you this: ‘HE STILL STUDIES.’ When I ask him why, he responds to me every time that in order to be able to give advice to his customers as a consultant, he needs to know what’s going on around the world. And when you do give it a thought, keeping pace with the world is vital for all positions and jobs.

Achilles’ Heel

April 7, 2010

“If you sleep now, you will dream. But if you study now, your dream will come true.”

This quote scares me every night. My favorite hobby is sleeping, but every time I remember this quote, it makes me feel uncomfortable and think as if sleeping is a crime. Yes. The biggest weakness I have is sleeping. I LOVE sleeping and can NEVER, EVER give it up. Well, sometimes, I do stay up for the whole night, but that’s only when I have tons up unfinished homework. I always promise that I will wake up early in the morning at the beginning of the year as my goal, and yet, it’s never been kept for over a month so far. I’ve seriously tried almost everything: sleeping extremely early so that I will biologically be waken up, setting the alarm so loud to the point where it could be heard by the neighbors, asking my parents to wake me up. However, none of them have worked so far: sleeping very early and waking up early prevented me from focusing on school work at school because it went against my biological clock; the alarm bell worked for a day or two, but I got used to it and couldn’t hear it in my sleep (hey! I’m a deep sleeper. some people do that) from then; my parents got tired of waking me up, because I scream at them if they wake me up (I get extremely mad at ANYONE who wakes me up in the morning, except when they wake me up after noon).

I’m sure somebody else has these problems as well. As of now, I have absolutely no idea on how to work through this problem. I don’t want to wear out my parents, nor have this problem until college where I will have to be independent.

What do you think? Do you suffer from this type of problem also? Do you have any suggestions for me? If so, feel free to leave any comment!

Korea? Corea!!

April 6, 2010

'Eastern Sea' written on a map

Did you know that the actual name of the country named Korea is ‘Corea’? Did you know that the name has not been changed voluntarily, but by Japanese who just “didn’t like” the fact that ‘C’ of Corea came before ‘J’ and so decided to change the ‘C’ to ‘K’, which happens to be right after the ‘J’? Japan has recently receiving loads of criticism for manipulating history and teaching it to their young. Since elementary school, Japanese kids are brainwashed to think that Japan is the center of the world.

What else have the almighty Japanese changed? I’m sure that those of you who paid attention to the tension between Corea and Japan will have heard of the East Sea. The name ‘East Sea’, which points to the sea that lies between Corea and Japan, has been altered to Sea of Japan starting from the 19th century. Considering the fact that the name ‘East Sea’ has been used for more than 2,000 years, the new name ‘Sea of Japan’ is nothing but unacceptable.

Even the Japanese once used the name 'Sea of Joseon (Corea)'

One thing is known for sure: no such name existed prior to the mid-19th century even in Japan. However, when Japan annexed Corea, Japanese forcibly prohibited the use of Corean language, Hangul. Then, they started using the name ‘Sea of Japan.’

Since 1991, the government of Corea has steadily raised awareness of this problem at UN Conferences and has made an effort to regain the proper name. We, the Coreans, sincerely hope the name ‘Sea of Japan’ will not be accepted and will constantly inform the world of the name ‘East Sea,’ with historical background regarding the matter.