Thursday, October 25, 2012

Over $11 Billion Spent on Hagwon

A woman from Seoul's wealthy Gangnam district who spent over $11 billion on a hagwon education for her son says she now regrets the expenditure, despite the prestige it bought her with her neighbors at the time.

Kim, 53, said she began paying for extra English classes 22 years ago when her child reached the Korean age of 1, just after being born. She admits that at the time there was little understanding of foreign English teachers in Korea, so even though the fees were expensive for the rare commodity, she was hopeful that within a year her son would be fully bilingual, and possibly even have lighter skin.

However, despite an arduous program of hagwon study which later included private lessons at home with a foreigner - even though it meant having to let him into her husband's apartment - she said that by the time her son was 2 year's old he was still taking several hours to complete homework assignments that should have taken minutes, despite the beatings.

Deciding that more intensive and expensive study was needed, she sought out the most exclusive of teachers at the hagwon, and within a few years the combined cost of the fees, special English language textbooks written in Korean, and exclusive hagwon branded-clothing designed to maximize a child's English language potential had risen to almost $50,000 per day, which fortunately her husband – the CEO of a construction company undertaking government contracts – was able to afford.

Kim – who speaks no English herself – was assured that her eldest son was making good progress after he won the Seoul Inter-Hagwon Muck-UN for five years in a row with a series of rousing 20 word or less speeches, but she now thinks that the gifts she gave the hagwon judges to ensure her son received favorable consideration not only helped him win, but also hid the fact that he still couldn't really speak the language.

Her son eventually went to the prestigious Seoul International University after a gift to the institution, but the downturn in the construction industry meant that her subsequent hopes for him becoming a doctor or a judge had to be set aside for the only remaining career that offered the hope of making the $11 billion back – becoming a politician.

While a health issue resulted in her son being exempted from mandatory military service, it has at least enabled him to take the first steps in his planned public career, by taking a position arranged for him by his father at The Korea Times as an intern. But Kim says that she is now bitter about being forced to spend so much on private education, and wants the government to crack down on poor-quality teaching by foreign English teachers.

Related Links
Over $11 billion spent on hagwon
Is Your English Instructor Really English?
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Disclaimer: Please note the links above are generated automatically by our software and may not always be directly related to the news article.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Psy Wins Korean Grand Prix

Global Korean rap sensation, who has taken the world by storm with his hit song "Gangnam Style", won today's Korean Grand Prix in a sensational result that promises to raise the profile of Korea and establish an entirely new approach to the sport.

A so-called 'Formula One' race is traditionally won by the first person to pass a black and white patchwork flag which represents the history of the sport – checkered. However, there has never been a Korean participant in the race because of its anti-Korean rule which requires drivers to wear tightly enclosed helmets – a fact that obviously puts anyone who eats kimchi before wearing one at a considerable disadvantage due to fog buildup and attendant health risks. Drivers are also not allowed to drink alcohol before entering their vehicles in Formula 1, potentially negating years of driving experience a domestic competitor would have gained on the streets of Seoul.

But the coordinated attempt by these other countries to prevent a Korean victory backfired spectacularly today when Psy was invited to wave the checkered flag at the end of the race, and in doing so became the first person to actually pass it as he waved it around, narrowly beating Sebastian Vettel, who is not Korean.

Formula One teams reacted angrily to the surprise result, but replays from Korean television clearly showed Psy - who everyone knows has more horsepower - passing the checkered flag before the nosecone of Vettel's slow European car. As such, the rules of the sport clearly define Psy as the winner.

It is believed to be the first time a Korean has won a Formula One race, although records on the sport only go back three years because before this there was no race held within the country so it wasn't worth bothering with.

Related Links
Psy to Wave Checkered Flag at F1 Korean Grand Prix
S. Korean sensation Psy to perform at F1 Korean Grand Prix
Korea's Second F1 Grand Prix Declared a Success
Crowds Wait in Vain For Korean Formula One Driver to Lap Circuit
F1 Driver Denied Entry to Korea Under Tough New Visa Restrictions

Disclaimer: Please note the links above are generated automatically by our software and may not always be directly related to the news article.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Military Criticized for Trying to Cover Up North Korean Invasion

South Korea's military has come under fire after a trying to cover up a North Korean invasion which it has been revealed took place on Tuesday last week.

The invasion by a North Korean soldier was originally said to have been seen as he crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) which divides the country - and he was then forced to surrender. However, after gaps in the story wider than those in the border emerged, investigators discovered that the North Korean invader was not detected until he knocked on the door at a guard outpost and the South Korean soldiers inside took him into custody, after going to the bathroom.

The investigation team disclosed that the 22-year-old North Korean soldier had crossed the heavily-guarded border in uniform, climbed barbed wire fences, hitched a ride to Seoul with a group of soldiers who had just been relieved, went sight-seeing around the Blue House and traveled around the Seoul subway system before finally making his way back to the border where he declared his intention to defect.

Questions are now being asked as to how the North Korean soldier evaded detection for so long. A surveillance camera is installed at the outpost to monitor activity in the DMZ, but according to unconfirmed reports it was not recording the border crossing at the time as it was pointed inside the outpost to discourage bullying among soldiers.

However, the military have attempted to play down the case, saying that the outpost was on a heightened state of alert at the time following the reported sighting of a North Korean submarine in the East Sea earlier in the day, so the soldiers were hiding in line with standard operating procedure.

Although defections across the land border are rare, two other soldiers from the isolated Koreanist nation have made their way across the heavily-armed border this year alone, sparking allegations of lax security. In one of the incidents, the defector even drove to safety having apparently spent several months building a road to another South Korean outpost.

Related Links
Military criticized for lying about NK soldier's defection

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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Japanese Finally Sobering Up After Dokdo Rage?

Drunken Pirate Rampage to End?
There are signs today that the Japanese people are finally sobering up after their decades-long drunken rampage over the Korean Dokdo islands, which are Korean, not Japanese.

Korea's largest maker of distilled liquor soju and beer, Hite, has reported that sales in Japan fell in August for the first time since 1988, ending 24 years of growth in the dubious colonialist country. However, the company has stressed to its shareholders that the fall is nothing to do with worsening relations between Korea and its enemy, but instead the reason is that Japanese consumers do not drink as much as they used to due to public health awareness.

Experts agree that if Japan wants to stay healthy, it has to sober up and stop provoking its neighbors in alcohol-fueled rages which have dangerously destabilized Asia in the last few months.

On Tuesday the Seoul Northern District Court sentenced a habitual drunk surnamed Lee to two years in prison for repeated violence against his neighbors. After the ruling, some argued that legal precedent should now allow South Korea to take the Dokdo issue to the International Court of Justice, as the Seoul case is very similar to Japan's over Dokdo.

The government has played down rumors that the popularity of Korean products has plummeted in Japan after Seoul issued a series of threats against the declining nation and after the Korean media was bizarrely accused by Tokyo of inciting nationalistic tensions against the notorious height-challenged ninja war criminals, despite a complete lack of evidence.

According to the Ministry of Unification in Seoul, the popularity of Korean singers has declined in Japan due to atmospheric conditions which make their voices sound 'slightly whiny', food sales are down because of the large number of two-for-one deals offered last month, and the fall in Japanese tourists to Korea is due to the new iPhone maps, which are directing them to China when they search for Korea.

Related Links
Dokdo row hurts biz with Japan
Heavy drinker gets 2 years fro repeated violence
Urgent! Samurai Warriors Coming to Dokdo!
Apple chief Tim Cook apologises over iPhone Maps app

Disclaimer: Please note the links above are generated automatically by our software and may not always be directly related to the news article.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Researchers Prove Sex with Korean Women Reduces Lifespans

A study of eunuchs in Korea's royal court during the Chosun Dynasty suggests that Korean men without testicles live longer than other males, apparently proving the long-standing theory that forming sexual relationships with Korean women reduces male lifespans.

Historically eunuchs had important roles in Korean society, such as managing food and national security within the palace, where a lack of testicles is often still prized today. Researchers found the men's castration and general distance from women allowed them to live to an average age of 70 at a time when the average life of kings - who according to historical records were knee-deep in queens - was just 47.

Some eunuchs chose to part with their testicles in order to enjoy a relatively comfortable woman-free life, although according to one early writer, others were victims of accidents caused by dogs who were a little too zealous in cleaning naked children who had been to the bathroom in the streets.

Korean eunuchs were supposedly above being tainted by the degenerative physical effects of female interests and passions, but according to William Franklin Sands, an American who started working as an 'advisor' to the Chosun court in the late 19th century, they were not only "restless, eternally dissatisfied and greedy" but also "warped and suspicious by nature, jealous, moody and prone to sudden anger and vindictive hatred" with "one all-absorbing passion" – money. Some researchers however have taken issue with his descriptions, saying they were not meant to be specifically about eunuchs.

Today, Korean society is largely split between those who identify themselves as being real men and who regularly attempt to prove the existence of their testicles by beating their wives, and males who seek a less masculine look, but who definitely aren't gay because homosexuality is something foreigners get, not Koreans. 'Male longevity surgery' still remains a niche; while it has long been known in Korea that castration before puberty prevents the shift from boy to man, a fact that several entertainment agencies have utilized to increase the lifespan of their boy bands, these boy bands only account for approximately 10% of the under-25 male population.

However, health workers fear neither group is trying to reduce their exposure to women in Korea, with 'real men' seeking multiple simultaneous relationships and males with the boyish 'castrated look' often said to be adopting it to appeal to girls with abusive fathers, who see them as less of a threat.

Lee Myung-bak, the youthful-looking 71-year-old outgoing Korean president, said he was intrigued by the research, but refused to answer questions.

Related Links
Korean Eunuchs Lived Long And Prospered
Eunuchs reveal clues to why women live longer than men
Did you know that... (52) Not all there

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Monday, October 1, 2012

[Oppa-Ed] How Much Psy is Not Enough?

Today is the fortieth day in a row that the print edition of The Dokdo Times has given Psy front page treatment. Even in a newsroom driven by the kind of purist absence of ethical and professional standards that would make journalists at The Chosun Ilbo blush, some may complain about overexposure or worry about readers' reactions.

But we in the news business know that some news keeps coming, making us feel as if it has a life of its own. In fact, in his 1976 book 'The Selfish Gene' Richard Dawkins termed such phenomena 'memes', likening them to self-replicating life-forms which spread from person to person. Memes are even believed to be the cause of the so-called Kim Yu-na Virus outbreak, named after a Korean sportswoman who was apparently once famous. Of course , morally, in principle – theoretically speaking - it's wrong to murder something that has a life of its own, so at The Dokdo Times we recognize that we must not kill the Psy story, and so we continued.

In the Friday edition, for example, the decision was made to place news about the chubby singer's song rising to No. 2 on the Billboard Chart on the front page, but then just before the deadline, photos of Psy jamming Gangnam Style with Eric Schmidt - Google's Executive Chairman - became available, forcing us to print the edition with a specially widened page and drop a story about a serious radiation leak at the Gori nuclear plant which occurred in the early hours of Wednesday morning, along with another piece about 'Gangnam Style' now becoming Korea's all-time most popular Internet search term shockingly beating the sexually-charged 'Lee Hyori naked', and 'Ahn Cheol-soo room salon".

Over the last forty days other stories have also suffered, and The Dokdo Times has featured virtually no coverage of the impending alien invasion from the planet Gootan, which will wipe out humanity in December this year. Some argue that the story is a joke, because humanity was wiped out long before the Gootan invasion fleet even left the planet Gootan decades ago. But even if the destruction of Earth isn't worth mentioning, many other serious stories have undoubtedly not received attention because of the 'Gangnam Style' coverage, and we know because we are the ones that deliberately didn't cover them.

Some have argued that it is difficult to accept that a satire of Korean society should only serve to strengthen it by so wholly becoming a part of it, and we journalists have to carefully consider our responsibility in pulling people back from the brink of this Anipang style madness rather than playing to it by trying to cheat our way to a high score in order to impress our friends and Google's search engine rankings. Therefore we think it is time to inject some quality back into Korean journalism.

Consequently the photo in today's paper lives up to the Psy spirit of defying conventional wisdom, by showing him hanging upside down above a picture of actress Jo Yeo-jeong lying naked on her back from the uncut trailer for the movie 'Royal Concubine', which depicts the dangers of having sex with Korean women (NSFW). It is suggestive of the way in which we journalists are all ultimately concubines – a polite term for cheap publicity seeking whores – to the public opinion which drives us, while playfully suggesting it is our readers who are really the whores while we bravely try to maintain some semblance of distance in the face of their relentless immorality.

In the background of the photo you clearly see our offices, suggesting that Psy has visited Dokdo to personally endorse The Dokdo Times and appear in a photo-shoot we commissioned because we covered him so much. We are neither confirming or denying the suggestion that Psy has visited The Dokdo Times to endorse us, and we leave it to our readers to decide whether they believe the clear photographic evidence in front of them, and the route he traveled marked on ancient maps of Dokdo.

Can we stop covering Psy after his endorsement of The Dokdo Times? No, because we still have not heard Psy say "Enough is enough", and until he does we have no choice but to continue despite our strong desire not to. So in these troubled times, at least until Earth is destroyed by the Gootan aliens in December, we ask our readers for their understanding and to remember the blame for any loss of integrity on our part is Psy's and Psy's alone.

Related Links
'Enough is not enough'
Jo Yeo-jeong Naked on Her Back in Uncut Trailer for 'Royal Concubine'
Animal rights group claims Anipang is animal abuse
Nuclear Workers to be Banned From Restaurants After Nuclear Accident
Korea Times Says Alien Invaders From Planet Gootan Arrive November

This piece originally appeared as part of an oppa-ed column in the print edition of The Dokdo Times. Disclaimer: Please note the links above are generated automatically by our software and may not always be directly related to the news article.