After seeing many films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the House of Flying Daggers, I have learned many aspects of true warrior tradition. Warrior tradition is strongly related with spiritual beliefs and emotions. According to these videos we’ve seen in school, it was a commonly accepted fact in China that warriors are often men and women were expected to stay at their homes and become housewives. However, the videos deal with a women in a particular Chinese society trying to break the stereotype that only men can be warriors. In the films, the women warrior often times beats up another men in various fights and shows how warrior tradition, or the elements of becoming a warrior do not limit women from becoming ones.

Movements of Martial Arts

Movements of Martial Arts

       Also, from the fact that many warriors name themselves wit h an animal, I realized that many traditional art, such as Kungfu is related with animal movements. For example, in the House of Flying Daggers, the main character names various movements before she attacks, which always had a animal’s name in them. The attack movement also correlated with how those animals usually move. This implies how martial arts especially in China are related with nature. Furthermore, we learn about a spiritual energy called “chi.” Chi is usually referred to  a personal god in which warriors need to concentrate this energy flow inside their bodies to take a pose before they attack and find the most effective way to defeat the enemy.

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       When I first read the article, The Woman Warrior at 30, I pretty much agreed with what the writer has written. I believe that ‘Woman Warrior’ is one of the most interesting books that deals with gender issues. The book, Woman Warriorr, really go against the old western stereotype that women are always inferior towards men and Asians are small and weak. Not only does the book deal with gender issues, but also it works with the old genereations’ culture and tradition. The book describes vividly about the ghosts and the old ways of curing people. The narrator’s mother is a doctor who uses traditional methods to cure patients. She believes in ‘Chi,’ the spiritual personal god, will protect and help people from fighting of diseases. Overall, the book generally talks about interesting differences between the east and the west in many perspectives.

Woman Warrior

Woman Warrior

        Personally, I do not believe in eastern ways of curing people in terms of science. However, I cannot disagree with the fact that it does help cure diseases. I think the western traditional ways uses mental feelings to cure patients instead of actual physical drugs that will cure patients directly.

Maxine Kingston

Maxine Kingston

       I believe that the writing style of Maxine Hong Kinston is very different and unique from many other book writers in America. First of all, it is hard to classify one of Kingston’s remarkable work, The Women Warriorinto one genre. Kingston uses many different writing style from one that is personal to others that is completely not related. For example, in the first chapter of the book, Kingston describes a story about her “no-named aunt,” who has made an unacceptable crime in relationship with other men. However, in chapter 3, Kingston describes about a woman warrior named Fa Mul Lan and how she became a woman warrior and won the great battle. Often her particular writing style really gives the audiences hard time effectively understanding the core meaning of the book.

Asian Woman Warrior

Asian Woman Warrior

       Also, many times, the time frame of this book changes rapidly, which sometimes confuses the reader about what the author is saying. Kingston changes her stories within the book from her present life to her past, which can be confusing, but can help readers effectively understand Kingston’s background life and her inspirations.

       Lastly, the Woman Warrior has great literary merit in that the book discusses about the relationship between genders, old vs. new generation, and adapting to new society. Coining all these various kinds of themes within the book, I’d say that Woman Warrior may be one of the most educational, yet insightful book to read in high school.

       The documentary, “Young and Restless in China” depicts various different young generations in China struggling through harsh living conditions to earn more money and become successful in life. This video focuses on the “new” China where technological development is very rapid and shows how more people are going abroad to get education and adopting new values into China from other developed nations.

The Documentary, "Young and Restless in China"

The Documentary "Young and Restless in China"

Below are three questions selected from the Discussion Questions.

2. Why do you think the Chinese government has nicknamed the young people coming home from abroad “returning turtles?”
   o How do you think their work or educational experiences abroad have affected their ambitions in China?
   o Why do you think these young people have returned to China?
         I believe “returning turtles” successfully describe the ambitious new young generations in China. According to research, turtles spend most of their times under water and only crawls out on dry land to lay eggs. Just like how turtles spend their times underwater searching for mates, the young Chinese men and women travel abroad for educational experiences, especially to America. I think that Chinese people can adopt and learn new concepts and technology from developed countries if young people go abroad to study. Currently, though China is now more open towards the idea of democracy, it still has many social obligations and limited thinking due to lack of freedom and its governmental system. The new China is growing at very fast rate in terms of economy and science technology. As Chinese people experience this new world, it is likely that people will gain more interest towards modernization and modern values. According to the documentary, “Young and Restless in China,” Chinese nowadays value money more than ever. As a result, it is a norm in China for men with more money to be treated with greater honor and reputation. Men with more educational experience aboard will tend to have better experiences and knowledge and conclusively have better chance of adopting better ideas and technology into China. By doing such, people will be able to earn more money and live a better life in China. Also, just like how turtles lay eggs on dry land because of better environmental condition, the young Chinese have returned to China because of opportunities. China is a country where many improvements and developments can be made fast and easily. After returning from abroad, Chinese people can easily adopt new ideas from developed nations such as the Internet café.

3. In what ways do you think Ben Wu, the entrepreneur launching the Internet cafe, is representative of the “new” China?
         I believe that Ben Wu is one great representative of the “new” China. Historically, China is known for having adopted communist values and communist governmental systems throughout many generations in the past. Nowadays, Chinese people are slowly starting to understand democratic values and their benefits on their daily lives. The Internet café that Ben Wu started to create in China strongly assists China in adopting new values by spreading the use of internet around the country. Internet represents freedom and destroys any obligations that China had in terms of adopting new ideas. Internet promotes long distance communication; therefore, as more Chinese people use internet to communicate with outsiders, more people can experience new culture of different nations and perhaps adopt their social or economic values. For example, from “Young and Restless in China,” we see a part in the documentary where Wang Xiaolei, the rapper, sends money to this Chinese girl he met through the internet. According to the girl’s picture that was uploaded, the girl seemed very westernized and seemed to value the western aspects of beauty. As the part of the documentary shows, the introduction of Internet in China promoted many people to accept new ideas and perspectives of other developed nations around the world. This rapidly changing society really represents the “new” China.

9. Why do you think FRONTLINE producers named this program Young & Restless In China?
    o Do you think this is an appropriate title? Why or why not? 
    o What other titles would aptly describe this program? 
         I think the frontline producers named this program as “Young & Restless” because the documentary dealt on depicting various different young Chinese people nowadays struggling to survive through harsh conditions. The title appropriately represents the whole document since young new generations in China are searching for new opportunities to learn and make money. As Xiaolei has said in the documentary, money is the most important in China and people with no money are treated without respect. As a result, many young generations in China are working and living just to make money, while not much people are living up to their dreams. One successful way of making money that is represented in the video is going aboard to get education. As a result of going abroad and experiencing new culture and ideas, China became more open and westernized. Ironically, even though the new Chinese generations became freer and live with less social obligations, it seems as if their lives are still restricted. For instance, the Chinese people seem to be adopting new ideas just to make more money, not because they like the new idea. The need for money seems to force the people to adopt new ideas while not many people do what they want to do in life. Perhaps the word “Restless” represents this particular idea in the film. Some other titles that might aptly describe this program might be “Development and Chaos” or “The Rich and the Poor.” “Development and Chaos” represents that China is going through rapid development, but along with technological development, there is social chaos because many young generations in China is suffering from lack of money. “The Rich and the Poor” also greatly represent the documentary since it shows how dramatically different lives of the rich and the poor are in China. People with no money in China are treated without any respect, while the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing.

Sung Justin Kim
Critique on “Of Mice and Men,” a stellar book to read

Book Cover of "Of Mice and Men"

Book Cover of OF MICE AND MEN

Rating:
1. Synopsis
       The book, ‘Of Mice and Men’ starts out by describing two migrant workers traveling to a new ranch to work. One man named George is depicted as somewhat small and dark, but has sharp and strong features. The other was completely opposite; Lennie was tall, but had “shapeless” face. Within few pages of the book, it comes clear that Lennie has a mild mental disorder. Lennie almost drowns while trying to drink water from a pool. George and Lennie have run away from their old ranch because Lennie was accused of rape. George had took care of Lennie to keep him out of trouble. During their travel, Lennie had been carrying and stroking a dead mouse,which it gets thrown away by George later. Lennie makes a comment about how he likes to touch and pet soft things. George and Lennie also talks about their future goals of owning land to farm and keep rabbits. George advises Lennie not to talk when they get to the new ranch and demands him to hide at the pool of the Salinas River if he gets into any trouble. Finally, the two companions reach the new ranch a day later than expected. George lies to the boss that Lennie is his cousin and that he is “not bright” because a horse kicked his head when he was young. The two workers get hired. They first meet a handyman named Candy, who is old, but very skilled. They learn from Candy that Curley, the boss’s son, is a person very hard to get along with. George feared that something bad might happen between Lennie and Curley because Candy likes to pick fights with people who were bigger than him. George and Lennie also saw Curley’s wife, whom Lennie seemed to be attracted by her appearance. Days into the new ranch, Candy eventually joins with George and Lennie to accomplish their planned future goals. Also, as George predicted, Curley picks a fight with Lennie to relieve his anger from Slim, the so-called prince of the ranch; Lennie wins the fight. Towards the end of the book, Curley’s wife flirts with Lennie, saying that life with Curley was a disappointment. Lennie also tells the wife that he likes petting soft things. The wife allows Lennie to touch her hair, but when Lennie grabs it too tightly, the wife screams. Trying to silence the wife, Lennie accidentally breaks her neck. Lennie flees to the designated place where George told him to hide. Later George finds Lennie, but shoots him from the back to end all trouble.

2. Personal Reader’s Response
       This book was very interesting to read. Actually, I really liked this book. I chose the read this book because this was book SIS students had to read in 9th grade. (I wasn’t here during my freshmen year.) I had an urge to complete full four years of SIS literature courses. Also, many of my friends commented that this book was one of the most fun books that they’ve ever read. I thought that independent reading should be a time to enjoy books and find reading fun, rather than investigate and study though pages of thick books and complex words. Adding on, I am very slow reader, so I preferred shorter and interesting books. Lastly, the book was used by the school, which I was assured that the book was academic enough for high school students to read. Again, I really found the book very easy to read along. The story was well connected in chronological order and the context was mostly composed of discussions between characters. The best part was that there was an unexpected ending! It really added some enthusiasm while I was finishing the book. The dialect itself was fairly direct. There were no hidden meanings that I had to search through. This book really reminded me of an old Korean proverb, “You get your foot smacked by a trusted axe.” This proverb means that you get harmed by the one you trust. Therefore, you should always watch your back. Apparently, in the book, Lennie had been killed by his most trusted friend, George. Personally, I really felt bad for Lennie not only because he was hated by many people without any reason, but also because he did not have any special assistance or treatment for his mental disorder, except that George sort of looked over him in the beginning. If I shall comment on one bad aspect of the book, it would be word choice. There were many swear words within the character’s quotes, with at least one on each page. John Steinbeck (author) really shouldn’t have used that much swear words, even though their sole purpose was to make the book more realistic. Overall, the book was full of adventure and it really met my first initial expectations. I usually hate reading books and have hard time interpreting hidden themes and meanings within context, but this book was really few of the books I found enjoyment in reading.

3. Non-personal Response
       After I read the book, I realized that the book was very “light.” In other words, the book was not only short, but also had direct meaning out of context. The story was mainly driven by characters’ discussions, and it was easy to figure out what was happening inside the book. Within the characters’ discussions, there was some dialect. The dialect worked very well to make the story seem more lively and real because it gave readers a sense of how ranch workers talk, while it wasn’t too hard to read through the dialects. Also, the story was composed in simple chronological order, which made the readers easier to understand the plot. The book was in 3rd person’s view and the story progressed by introducing conflicts and relationships between different characters within the book. Therefore, it was easier for readers to understand the book more intricately by going beyond investigating through only individual characters. Lastly, I thought that the book was very worthwhile in terms of themes and lessons. The book presented the readers with theme of human nature. Human nature was able to be seen in many aspects of the book including the fight between Lennie and Curley, Lennie’s attraction towards petting soft things and Curley’s wife, and George’s betrayal of Lennie. All these events in the book show that in any emergent circumstances, human nature is shown; men wants to show that they are strong, men are attracted to women, and humans can do anything for their own survival. This book teaches the readers a great lesson that we all need to watch our backs at all times. Also, this book gives readers a sense about the unmerciful nature of “survival of the fittest.”

4. Author Information
       John Steinbeck was born in February 27, 1902 and died December 20, 1968. He was one of the most famous writers of the 20th century; he published about twenty-five books. His most famous books were the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath” and “Of Mice and Men.” He grew up in Salinas Valley region of California, where he experienced diverse place of migratory history. His younger experiences there imparted “a life of immigrants” flavor to his later books. Also, he worked as a reporter in the United States, researching history. Therefore, Steinbeck was able to combine factual data with his younger experiences to blend accurate information with his authentic voice in his books.

The schools where many Korean students struggle to get accepted

Ivy League Pennants: The schools where many Korean students struggle to get accepted

        I was very shocked when I first read the title of the article, “44% of Korean Ivy League Students Quit.” The first thing I wondered was why would anyone quit going to Ivy League schools when so many Korean students nowadays barely sleep 3 hours a day to prepare to go to prestigious U.S. colleges. According to the article, it seemed as if Koreans had the highest drop out rates of 44% after 34% of Americans, 25% of Chinese, and 21% of Indian students. The most likely reason for the high drop out rates for Korean students was that Korean students tend to focus much more on studying rather than going out and socializing in college. As a result, Korean students have harder time adapting into the new American society. Often you can see many Koreans isolated from the local American mainstream. The Koreans’ style of concentrating way too much in studying is not an effective way to succeed in college and need to find more leisure time and socialize with fellow students of the school. Sometimes Korean students might have to give up following the same style of living they had in Korea and adapt to the new world as quickly as they could. Personally, I am currently practicing swimming to use athletics as a way to get closer with other foreign students. I believe that finding a common ground to interact with new people is the easiest and the best way. I think that this article does a great job of warning many Korean students going aboard to study the importance of adapting to the society and socializing. I hope that this article will help many Korean students from not dropping out of American colleges.

Harvard Campus

Harvard Campus

       Currently, there is a popular TV show in the hot spot in Korea called “Infinity Challenge.” This program deals with six TV stars (comedians) being assigned with random tasks, which often seems very hard and unusual, that they have to complete. And in the process of completing these tasks, the TV stars tries to incorporate humor into the show, raising the popularity rating. This program had high popularity rating as far as over 30% of the Korean TV viewers have watched one of the TV series.

Six TV Stars on "Unlimited Challenge"

Six TV Stars on "Infinity Challenge"

       However, I found that “Infinity Challenge” sometimes go over the limit of appropriateness in their shows. For example, the TV stars often wear outfits that seems very embarrassing and inappropriate for other people to look at. And these TV stars also go around famous places in Seoul, such as Apkujong Rodeo and act inappropriately towards some citizens just for the fun of the program. Furthermore, some particular TV stars try to enhance their own reputation by creating their own unique dances or costumes that seems inappropriatefor young children to watch. The worst part is that this TV show also film outside of Korea and in countries such as America and Europe. And the TV stars also act very inappropriately and disturbing in other countries, which can potentially influence how foreigners think of Korea. Below is a part of the serious that I thought was inappropriate.

       I understand that sometimes excess humor is needed to raise popularity of the TV shows, but I believe that these shows should not exceed the limit of appropriateness just to raise their popularity ratings.

       Personally, I do not know if I have experienced Diaspora in my life that may seem very evident. However, as a Korean American, I can explain some changes that I’ve experienced. To start off, according to Wikipedia, diaspora refers to the following.

The term Diaspora (in Greek, διασπορά – “a scattering or sowing of seeds“) refers to the movement of any population sharing common ethnic identity who were either forced to leave or voluntarily left their settled territory, and became residents in areas often far removed from the former.

       I would say Diaspora related to the spread of any common beliefs with in a particular group or a change within the particular people.

       Korea Americans often experience diaspora as they intermingle between two distinct cultures- Korean and American. One institution that Korean Americans face is hakwons. Hakwons in Korea spread conceptual ideas that are uncommon in America culture. They spread the idea that people can live better when they go to American instead of living in their familiar native lands. Also, hakwons spread the idea that grades are the most important and parents should force students to go just for the grades. Many Korean Americans attending international schools in Korea go to hakwons. Almost all of the international students plan to go America in their futures and attend hakwons everyday to receive better SAT grades. However, once they go to America, considerable number of students do not adapt to American culture and perform badly in American educational systems. Americans have different beliefs that grades are not the most important thing.

A person paying for hakwon in front desk

A person paying for hakwon in front desk

       Another diaspora we can see may be the Internet. Korea is one of the nations which have fastest Internet connection. As a Korean American who can speak and read English, I often visit American websites and comment on my own opinions that might seem “Korean” or foreign to other Americans. Internet may be the fastest way that anyone can spread information through the media.

Internet Connections

Internet Connections

       Often times, when I use English with my friends out on the streets or inside the public bus, people always stare at us and some old men even criticize us for speaking English even though we are in Korea. I think this is a great change between same Koreans having different beliefs.

Place where I don't use English anymore

Place where I don't use English anymore

       This so called diaspora can be seen in the book in that Ibo people face break down of their society after white missionaries come into their towns and change many beliefs that the Ibo people used to have since the past. Ibo culture has completely fallen apart as more people were converted into Christianity and unity of Ibo culture has been destroyed.

Representation of Ibo Culture

Representation of Ibo Culture

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats

        After reading William Butler Yeat‘s “The Second Coming,” and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, I realized the word “Second Coming” and “Things Fall Apart” can refer to several different meanings.

        Second Coming in general means the return of Christ on the end of the world to perhaps save the world.

  1. “Second Coming refers to the promised return of Christ on Doomsday, the end of the world; but in Revelation 13 Doomsday is also marked by the appearance of a monstrous beast.” (http://adambenjones.wordpress.com/)
  2. “The Second Coming is the anticipated return of Jesus Christ from heaven to earth, an event that will fulfill aspects of Messianic prophecy, such as the general resurrection of the dead, the last judgment of the dead and the living and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth (also called the “Reign of God”), including the Messianic Age.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Coming)

        However, considering that Yeat’s poem is written before the World War II, we can infer from the context that the “Second Coming” refers to World War II in Yeat’s poem. Yeat described the World War II as the Second Coming because he thought that the world will fall apart and lose control because of the war. The Second World War might lead to the end of human civilization.

Things Fall Apart Book Cover

Things Fall Apart Book Cover

       Interestingly, Yeat connects the idea of Second Coming with things fall apart. The phrase “Things Fall Apart” within Yeat’s poem means that sometimes society breaks apart because of men. According to the poem, World War I has just ended and World War II is approaching. World War II will demolish human society and and the society will eventually fall apart.
Things Fall Apart represents the conflict between Ibo culture and Western culture and how different cultures can lead to one nation’s demolition and how a nation can break down in terms of tradition. In both cases, the world is falling apart and coming to an end.

Little bug foods

Little bug foods

To see the original source click on the link: http://adambenjones.wordpress.com/

After having read Mr. Jone’ s post about strange foods, the first thing that came across my mind was why do people have so many stereotypes about foods that seem uncommon to them. Personally, I’ve tried one of these foods that are “strange.” Bun-dae-gi is a snack food in Korea, which is usually considered very disgusting and strange to foreigners. Bun-dae-gi is pupa boiled in water, which does not smell good, but tastes okay. I usually enjoy eating these little pieces of pupa as snacks when I go to vacations in Korea.  Bun-dae-gis are perfect to consume in the car or bus and fill up empty stomach. Before I tried this “strange food” I always have thought that the food was very disgusting as well as the people who eat them. I had a stereotype that all people who enjoyed eating Bun-dae-gi was weird and disgusting. Unfortunately, this is how many others think about strange foods and people who eat them. Without even trying the strange food, people make wrong assumptions about people who eat strange foods. For instance, there are very unusual types of food in China, including cockroaches, mice, and mosquito eyes. Chinese people enjoy eating these types of food in regular day bases. However, because Chinese people eat these kinds of foods, many Koreans consider Chinese as very dirty and uncivilized.

bug food

chapulines: bug food

Unfortunately, people easily develop stereotypes that are hard to break when they see things that are very uncommon in their society. However, it will be important to actually experience the uncommon and avoid making judgments merely based on inference. If all people would try to take a step closer to strange things before making judgements, many stereotypes in the world may be broken. Adding on, people might also gain unexpected benefits. For example, in the case of bun-dae-gi, people will realize that the little pupas are actually very high protein foods with little fat, which is very healthy for the body. Consuming these little snacks will provide people with great energy to work, without concentrating fat into people’s bodies. In fact, bun-dae-gis will be very good replacements for unhealthy fast foods that are now very common in our societies.

Bun-dae-gi food

Bun-dae-gi food

Strange Japanese Food

Killing the Earth

September 12, 2008

Hurricane Ike

Hurricane Ike

To read the article, click on this link: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/13/us/13ike.html?hp

Recently, I have came across a serious article about the Hurricane Ike nearing Texas. People in the Galveston Island were issued about the life threatening hurricane approaching their houses. If people remained in their houses, they had to face death. Mandatory evacuation was ordered and thousands of people fled the island, even though few remained believing that there will be no harm. From reading this article, I thought to myself how dirty the earth has become since the first civilization of mankind. Technology has developed significantly, but humans destroyed environment in earth considerably. Many countries around the world now suffer from air and water pollution. Also, the earth is going through global warming. Because of the destroyed environments, much more unexpected natural disasters occur currently compared to the past; sudden changes in climate, water flow, etc contributed strongly to the occurrence of such natural disasters. We have to understand that pollution starts from individual people. Pollution occurs the moment you throw away a piece of tissue on the ground. To stop these natural disasters, though it is not proved that environmental destruction was the factor that specifically instigated Hurricane Ike, individuals need to change their little habits and throw away trash in the garbage can and always recycle the wastes. Even though it seems like a small thing, if everyone in the world change their daily attitudes, then the world will change. A simple change in individuals’ life will ensure safety for thousands in the future.

destruction by hurricane

destruction by hurricane

Hurricane Destruction Video