North and South Korea Agree to Family Reunions in October

Decades of separation, but never once did they lose hope.

Thousands of Korean families have been torn apart for more than six decades since the Korean war. Although there have been numerous attempts at holding reunions, cooperation between the two sister countries was difficult.

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South Korean Cho Il Woong, 81, shows his family photo in North Korea (Lee Jin-man/AP)

But for the second time in five years, there is one more chance for another heartbreaking, tearful reunion.

After the recent artillery fights across the border due to the land mine explosions that wounded two South Korean soldiers last month, the North and South have negotiated to ease tensions between the neighboring countries. The result is an agreement to hold a reunion for 100 individuals from each country from October 20th to 26th at Mount Kumgang, a resort located on the North’s east coast.  

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North Korean delegate, Park Yong-il, and South Korean delegate, Lee Duk-haeng, meets at Panmunjom for talks over family reunion (NY Times)

More than 130,000 South Koreans have registered to the government since 1988 for a hopeful reunion, but only 66,000 are believed to be alive today—more than half are in their 80s and 90s. The majority had already passed away without ever having a chance to hear from their estranged family members across the border.

Unfortunately, the process of being selected to participate in the reunion is based on luck; not all 66,000 can participate in the reunion. On September 15, the South will offer a list of 250 names while the North will offer 200 in order to check whether the people are still alive. Then finally, 500 individuals, randomly chosen by a computer, will be reduced to 200 after going through a series of interviews and medical exams. Then, the final 100 participants will be selected based on the likelihood of finding a surviving family member from the North.

Often being the first or last time the families will ever meet, the encounters are brief and emotional.

North Korean Kim Ho-Sook, right, 83, meets her South Korean brother Kim Ho-Dae in 60 years (CNN News)
North Korean Kim Ho-Sook, right, 83, meets her South Korean brother Kim Ho-Dae in 60 years (CNN News)
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In 2014 South Korean Park Yang-gon reunites with his North Korean brother Park Yang-su (News1/Reuters)

In the last reunion on February 2014, a total of 200 North and South Korean families met over a period of six days. Jang Chun, one of the 100 South Koreans who had made his trip all the way to Mount Kumgang, met his brother, Jang Hwa Chun, and younger sister, Jang Keum Soon, who were once only children in the North.

In 2014, Jang Chun reunited with his siblings from North Korea
In 2014, Jang Chun reunited with his siblings from North Korea (CNN News)
Jang Chun's letter containing photos of his family in North Korea through the Redcross (CNN News)
Jang Chun’s letter containing photos of his family in North Korea through the Redcross (CNN News)

As a military conscript during the Korean war, Jang was taken prisoner by the United Nations in South Korea, leaving his family in the North.

Then five years ago, Jang received a letter from the Red Cross, containing a black-and-white photo of his brother at a wedding.

“It was shocking,” Jang said. “I didn’t even know they were alive, although I had hoped they were. After reading the letter, I started crying, I was filled with both joy and sorrow” (CNN News).

“Every time a train passes by, I thought (about you), I missed you, older brother,” Jang Keum Soon, sobbing and hugging, told Jang Chun during the reunion.

Jang Chun’s son also promised his North Korean aunt and uncle whom he met for the first time: “I will drive a train and come here. I am a locomotive engineer so I will drive the train and promise to come back. Until then, please stay healthy and live a long life.”

South Korean members were seen bringing small gifts for their families who’d have to return back to North; the most popular gifts were Choco Pies and painkillers (YTN News).

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North Korean families must go back (BBC News)

Although hopes are high, there are still a number of risks. There were times when North Korea would cancel the reunions at the last minute. And currently, there is also the possibility of a long-range missile launch by North Korea under the excuse of celebrating the 70th year anniversary of founding Kim Jung Un’s ruling Worker’s Party in mid-October.

According to the Yonhap News, Cheong Seong-chang, a senior researcher at the Sejong Institute, said, “If North Korea launches a long-range rocket, the international community could impose sanctions against the North, which will likely lead Pyongyang to revoke the family reunions in retaliation.”

Until then, there is little that can be done except to hope for the families’ fateful reunion.

– Sammie Kim (’18)

Featured Image: CNN

5 Apps to an A

Don’t fall back into old habits with these five useful apps.

The best formula to success is produced when two things of different aspects integrate to create an efficient or effective method of doing something. As I have recently found, this goes the same for us, students. Education, which is probably the most important aspect of students’ lives, goes hand-in-hand with the item used most frequently by students: the computer. By combining two important things that students use and consider, education and laptops, success at school is a given.

1. Microsoft OneNote

9to5Mac
(9to5Mac)
WinFuture
(WinFuture)

Microsoft OneNote is one of the best applications I have ever encountered. Not only is it completely free, but also it is an extremely useful organizer and a “smart” notebook. It is available on all electronic devices, including your computer, smartphone, or any other smart device that uses the internet, making it easy for you to access your notes anywhere, anytime. Its useful features that help to organize the notes that you take on the application, or that help with the creation of your to-do lists, are easy to use, and simple to follow. With the assistance of this extraordinary application, your test grades are guaranteed an A.

2. SelfControl

SelfControlApp
(SelfControlApp)

It is a well-known fact that the concentration span of a high school student is not very long. In fact, BBC News claims that “students only have a 10-minute attention span.” The main cause of this lack of focus tends to come largely from distractions, including social media websites or video games. However, with the help of an application called SelfControl, students will be able to use their time more wisely and improve their time management skills. It literally is an effective application that will help you “self-control.” This application will definitely decrease the amount of time you will have for completing your assignments, starting off your projects, and studying in general.

3. TED

Candice Landau
(Candice Landau)

TED is an extremely popular website revolving around speeches and presentations done by well-respected individuals. Speeches hosted by this organization are not only informative and educational, but also intriguing and entertaining. The gargantuan variety of categories for the speeches will certainly intrigue you into learning more and researching deeper into certain topics. The “ideas worth spreading” aspect of this website is something that I completely agree with, given the creativity and information provided by this website.

One speech that is extremely popular and well-known for its informative and poignant content is Sir Ken Robinson’s “Bring on the Learning Revolution!” Although it is a lengthy video of approximately 17 minutes, time goes by so quickly as you will constantly be hooked to the intriguing content of the speech.

4. Khan Academy

National Association for Child Development
(National Association for Child Development)

Khan Academy is another renowned website known for its helpful tutorial videos and practice problems. These highly informative but easy-to-follow video lessons cover a tremendous amount of subjects, from math to science to computer programming. After watching the video tutorials, you can practice and apply those concepts you’ve learned with the practice problems created for you on the website. This website is also recommended by many educators, for being a helpful tool to catch up with your schoolwork.

5. RainyMood

RainyMood
(RainyMood)

RainyMood is a website personally recommended to me by a close friend. The website provides tranquil sounds of rain that helps to improve your concentration when studying or doing your homework.

According to Hope Yoon (‘19),

“It sets you into a calm mood for studying.”

With the help of this website, you can put your sole focus and efforts into the assignment that you’re working on. Instead of listening to pop music with lots of lyrics and a rowdy melody that can grab your attention away from your work, use this website to listen to the calming and peaceful sound of rain.

Using these five useful applications and websites recommended by your fellow peers, your sorry GPA will soon turn into one magnificent 4.0! Start using them in the beginning of the year so that when your schedule gets busier and busier throughout the year, you can use them more efficiently and more effectively.

– Ariel Kim (’19)

Dismaland: The World’s First Bemusement Park

The world’s renown graffiti artist, Banksy, takes his criticism of modern society to the next level in his newest collaborative installation, Dismaland.

On the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare in Somerset, England, thousands of visitors flock to a newly opened “bemusement” park, Dismaland. Called to be “unsuitable for small children”, Bristol-based street artist Banksy’s latest pop-up art installation is the combination of works by 58 artists and Banksy himself. It’s arranged as a dystopian and sinister mock-up of Disneyland, complete with fair games, a carousel, and a towering castle.

http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/20/arts/banksy-dismaland-art-exhibition/
(CNN News)

Graffiti artist Banksy has always been famous for his stencils of irreverent, often satirical images of apes, rats, and cultural icons on streets, walls, and bridges around the world, from Los Angeles to Gaza, to Melbourne, despite the illegality of his actions. He first began as a graffiti and stencil artist in the 1980s with the belief that graffiti was not just a form of low-level dissent, but could be “used to start revolutions and to stop wars.” In his art, Banksy explores social and political themes such as anti-capitalism, anti-war, and anarchism.

For example, in this work depicting a couple embracing, Banksy criticizes how modern society has become so absorbed into technology that to the point where we are blind to our loved ones and the very things right in front of us.

Paul Green Photography
(Paul Green Photography)

In another artwork, Banksy depicts a lady falling with a shopping cart, condemning capitalism and how people have fallen senselessly into the cycle of consumerism.

http://banksyt-shirts.com/new-banksys-in-december-2011/
(Banksy Official Website)

For a month before its opening, the public was unaware of the project. When asked about the mysterious construction, owners of the site claimed that the area had been rented out to a film company called Grey Fox, and that a film set was being built.

When Dismaland officially opened to the public on August 22, crowds swarmed to see what Banksy had in store, and were appalled. Several of the pieces spoke directly to the ideals of modern society and the negative effects of consumerism not only on humanity but also on the environment.

A presumably dead Cinderella hangs out of her crashed coach and is blinded by the flash of the paparazzi’s’ cameras. This is an allusion to the death of Princess Diana of Wales, who died in a car crash after being consistently pursued by the paparazzi. A killer whale jumps out of a toilet and through a hula-hoop, perhaps criticizing the marine life industry and pointing a finger at SeaWorld. In a fountain, several children are huddled into miniature boats with other boats trailing behind them with guns pointed, making a powerful connection to the ongoing migrant crisis. And the Grim Reaper twists and whirls on a bumper car, representing how death can suddenly pick you up and take you away.

PA Photos
(PA Photos)
Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal
(Christopher Jobson for Colossal)
Yui Mok: PA Photos
(Yui Mok for PA Photos)
Alicia Canter for the Guardian
(Alicia Canter for the Guardian)

Overall, the park has proven to be shocking, frightening, and even horrifying, but it serves as an effective eye-opener to the behind story of the glamour of capitalism and modern society. Would you visit Dismaland?

– Seiyeon Park (’17)

Featured Image:

Potato Parcel: A Starchy Profit

Move over emails and text messages, potato parcels are the next big thing.

Potatoes are perfect for a starchy recharge: french fries, mashed potatoes, and even potato chips. However, to this one businessman, a potato was not an ordinary potato.

Craig’s Potato (Mashable.com)

Alex Craig, a Texan entrepreneur, ventures with, what his doubtful girlfriend claims as, “the stupidest idea” and makes over $10,000 a month—a cash cow, most certainly.

While having dinner with his girlfriend, Craig was unexpectedly struck with a simple, yet ridiculous idea of using potatoes – not to be mashed – but to be used as postcards, to send personalized messages on them. His idea was very obviously conceived as foolish, as not only writing on a potato is bizarre, but who uses postcards these days in the first place?

Despite the incessant doubts and criticisms, the crowd’s response was otherwise surprising. On the second day of the launching of his idea, the demand for his potatoes already reached three thousands, and very soon, the potatoes went viral. Twitter and Instagram were spilling with reactions to #potatoparcel, with people amazed by this cute idea of getting a spud mail. Perhaps it was the unconventionality of the idea that caught the crowd’s attention.

It Can’t. (Twitter)
Punny Potato (Instagram)
potato-parcel-II
(Guidelive)

The process is also pretty simple. The user would enter the Potato Parcel website, then choose either to send a large or a medium-sized potato, with each having different prices and word limits. Then, he/she will order by providing the address of the recipient, the user’s email, and most importantly the message. After the order, Craig will hand write messages on the potato, then finally, send it anonymously through the mail to the recipient, whether that be his/her friend or enemy.

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Sweet Potato (Potatoparcel.com)
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Me Too. (Potatoparcel.com)

As an advice from Craig to not only his fellow entrepreneurs, but also to all of us, “The two things that hold everybody back in life is fear and doubt. The fear of failure and the fear of wasting your time, and the doubt that you can achieve something big on a huge scale.” Many people today choose to go with the flow and stay on the safe route, mistaking fear as risk and danger. Opposed to that, Craig showed how such a strange and out-of-the-ordinary idea is not simply dumb, but quite revolutionary.

It is what differentiates Potato Parcel from other enterprises that allows it to deserve all the attention and excitement. Now is the time for your spud-tacular ideas!

 

– Yoo Bin Shin (’18)

Why We Shouldn’t Neglect Posture

We all know that it’s important to sit straight, but do we really know the harms of having bad posture?

Your eyes blur and you fight off a pounding headache as you reread the passage.  Your fingers cramp as you attempt to read the answer choices.  Your brain foggy, you give up, guess, and move on to the next question as the pain in your lower back forces you to twist about in your chair.

You’ve all experienced (or will experience) the discomfort of taking standardized tests.  Yet the culprit may not be just the pressure or the stress level of the tests you’re taking.

(Transformative Health)
(Transformative Health)

See the picture above?  Looks familiar?  Here is a typical posture of any motivated student (or possibly a slacker wasting time on the Internet), one that causes so many problems in our health.  Such posture results in one’s backbone to grow asymmetrical, causing any muscle tissues in the near region to either stretch or shorten.  

Pain in the shoulders, neck, low back, elbows, and wrists are all possible side-effects of poor posture.  Frequent headaches can also result from excessive tensions in the muscles.  Studies have found that it may even worsen depression and stress levels.  And if these symptoms don’t scare you enough to make some changes in your habit, consider this: bad posture immediately reduces oxygen levels in brain cells, interfering your ability to think and focus.  To put it simply, it makes you slightly dumber.  As a student, there can’t be a worse side-effect.

So take a moment and see if you have a bad posture.  Chances are, you do.  To avoid releasing the aforementioned symptoms onto your body, here are some guidelines to improving poor postures.

  1. Make sure your back is fully supported by the back of the chair.
  2. Your spine should maintain a vertical or slightly angled position.
  3. The distance between your knee and the desk should have sufficient room so that you can scoot in closer to the desk.
  4. If you’re using a laptop, place the monitor within the range of your eye level (slightly above or slightly below).
  5. Take regular eye breaks by looking at objects far in distance.
  6. Take study breaks either by standing or walking around.
  7. Take regular stretch breaks to relieve any muscle strains.

 

SittingPosture
(Comprehensive Pain Management Center)

Below are some simple stretching exercises that will help you relieve muscle strains.  Try them.  It may ACTUALLY make you smarter!

(DesignTAXI)
(DesignTAXI)

As much as it’s comfortable to slouch at your desk, make sure to take a break once in a while! Stand up, take a stretch, etc. Better now than never!

 

– Eunice Na (’17)