Are We Underestimating E-scooter Risks?

E-Scooters are rising in popularity across the globe, especially in Korea. But, are the regulations on these electric hybrids too lax?

A common dilemma for people working outside of their homes is transportation. How do you avoid traffic or crowded subways without wasting money on taxis? How do you get there on time while not having to put in the tiring effort of riding a bike? E-Scooters, which are easy-to-use, battery-powered transportation devices, seem to be the perfect solution. 

E-Scooters have had a notable rise in popularity in Korea. According to the Korea Startup Forum and the Shared Personal Mobility Alliance (SPMA), there are now 52,080 E-Scooters in Korea, which is a sharp increase from the 17,130 E-Scooters last year. E-Scooters are an excellent way to get to places on time and are accessible to a wide age range. However, with rising cases of E-Scooters accidents and breaches in public safety guidelines, concerns have been rising over the regulations in place over the use of these machines. According to an article from Yonhap News, certain E-Scooters regulations will become effective in December under Korea’s Road Traffic Act. The regulations include officially categorizing the E-Scooters as a type of bicycle, which allows E-Scooters riders who don’t have driver’s licenses to use bicycle roads. In addition, the age limit for riding an E-Scooter will be decreased from 18 to 13 years old. Additionally, the penalty for not wearing a helmet will no longer be in effect (Kim, 2020). 

Parents, teachers, and other worried citizens have spoken out against these lax regulations, insisting that the authorities must make them more strict. E-Scooters can be very dangerous on roads and sidewalks as people will be navigating through crowds or in front of traffic at speeds of up to 25 kilometres per hour. In addition, many people are seen without helmets on these fast moving vehicles, which poses a safety hazard to the riders. Another problem is that E-Scooter riders are often found riding these machines with two people on a single scooter. There are currently no regulations that address this problem. 

Many citizens have pondered over what would be the best ways to limit E-Scooter accidents. Some suggest having E-Scooter riders pay heavier fines when involved in an accident. Others suggest having a higher age limit (Kim, 2020). However, a solution brought up that I believe is the most effective and logical way is to implement  a separate law for E-Scooters, segways, electric skateboards, and other newly developed transportation machines. 

Perhaps, in the future, a separate road specifically for these types of devices could be created. They function at a different speed range and agility than typical bikes, and should therefore require a different set of rules. A regulation that enforces the use of helmets should most certainly be established, as well as speed limits in certain places (such as a lower limit in school-zones). There should also be several rules in regards to having more than one person on a singular scooter. The age limit of 13 years old is too young, and riders should at least be 18 before being allowed to ride E-Scooters without proper supervision. 

Accidents with E-scooters should be taken more seriously as they can have tragic and irreversible consequences. If you or a family member or friend rides an E-Scooter, make sure to take proper safety precautions, and to think logically about what the right way to handle these machines is. 

With all due respect, just wear a helmet.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: Let’sKick/Unsplash

Truly Away from the Formulaic? An SAT-Less Year of College Admissions

The coronavirus has complicated the standard college admissions process, including standardized tests such as the SAT. However, it seems far-fetched for many students to abandon the tried-and-tested.

For years, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, has been a universal rite of passage for many high school students.

This year, this might not be the case.

The global coronavirus pandemic has interfered in almost all walks of life—with education being no exception. Over 400 colleges and universities preparing to receive applicants from the class of 2021 have modified their application standards: namely, dropping either SAT and ACT score requirements in high school transcripts. While most schools have opted to maintain this test-blind policy for this year only in order to accommodate for a large number of students who are unable to access testing facilities or face a deluge of canceled tests, others colleges have relaxed SAT score-sends for three years or even permanently. To say that this is abnormal is an understatement: this is unprecedented

Some may shrug this off as a one-time incident. But for many, this is bigger— a chance. It is a chance to prove a point to abandon the formulaic. We as students have been told time and time again that standardized tests are not the end-all be-all of college admissions but seldom does it feel that way. Heralded is the test-blind leeway afforded to students this year, lauded as a potential difference-maker for college admissions in future years. For years education experts have asserted that standardized tests like the SAT are poor indicators of student success in higher education. This year could be the catalyst for change as admissions officers are able to look beyond the arbitrary than usual and can substantiate in later years that a (hopefully) four-digit test score shouldn’t be one of the primary indices for classifying a student’s academic merits. 

But we may be squandering a chance for the future, as we woefully ignore an out-of-the-blue chance for change right before us in favour of our personal security. Call me a hypocrite—I’ve taken the SAT twice this year, and I wasn’t planning on stopping until I got my score—but aren’t we all hypocrites? The SAT will continue to be a staple of our admissions process year-in and year-out. According to CollegeBoard data, roughly 2.2 million Class of 2020 students took the SAT, up from the 2.1 million from the previous class. We high schoolers incessantly continue to sign up for the SATs month after month without a second thought even as we all breathe a sigh of relief that scores are no longer mandatory for the 2021 class.

“It might’ve been a great opportunity,” one senior remarked after being asked about numerous UC colleges dropping their obligatory SAT score inclusions, “it could’ve placed more stress on the importance of other aspects of our resumes—extracurriculars, service, and etcetera”. 

But when asked about whether he would send his SAT scores, the senior responded that he would, citing that “a lot of other seniors are planning on sending scores, so why wouldn’t I?”, noting “after all, it’s college admissions culture, all of us want to get a leg up on the competition no matter what it takes.” 

For years, the Scholastic Aptitude Test, better known as the SAT, has been a universal rite of passage for many high school students.

For years, this will continue to be the case. 

Lucas Lee ‘22

Featured Image: CNN

The Uncertainty of Flu Vaccines in Korea

There has been a rise in deaths of citizens who recently received the flu vaccine. It is unlikely that the vaccine was the cause of their death, but what is the right course of action of vaccine-providers to ease public concerns?

With each spike in Coronavirus cases, hospitals have been on the verge of overflowing, without enough equipment or rooms for their patients. Now that the Flu Season is underway, South Korean officials are concerned over whether hospitals can handle the influx of flu patients on top of COVID-19 patients. In order to prevent an overload of patients in hospitals, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) has started a free flu vaccine program for which 19 million people are eligible (BBC News). However, concerns have been growing over the safety of these vaccines as several deaths possibly linked to vaccination were recorded. As of Friday, October 23rd, at least 48 South Korean citizens have died after receiving a flu vaccine (KBS World Radio). The highest recorded number of deaths that occurred after flu vaccination was six deaths in 2005. However, the number of people being vaccinated in 2020 is much higher, which could be the reason for the sudden spike in deaths (The Korea Times). In addition to the deaths, according to Jung Eun-kyeong, the KDCA Chief, there have been 353 cases of abnormal reactions linked to vaccinations this year. 

Although most of the deaths that occurred were among elderly citizens aged 70 or older, a few of which having underlying health conditions, a 17 year old boy died two days after receiving a flu shot. His vaccine was one of around 5 million doses that had been accidentally exposed to room-temperature. This batch of vaccines was re-collected and tested for quality control, however, the testers found no irregularities or toxic substances in the vaccines. The death of such a young person sparked fears amongst parents who were planning on getting their children vaccination as well. Lim Yi-young, the mother of a four year old son, stated that she was “too frightened to get him the vaccine” after hearing of the recent deaths (The Korea Times).

The KDCA has decided to continue with the vaccination program, assuring the public that there is no definite correlation between the casualties and the flu vaccinations. KDCA officials say that it would be difficult to suspend the program at such a critical time, emphasizing the number of deaths caused by the flu itself each year. However, the KDCA also states that the vaccination will be suspended immediately if any issues are found with the vaccines. On the other hand, the Korean Medical Association (KMA) has a contrasting stance, stating that the government should put the program on hold until the cause of the deaths have been confirmed. According to KDCA Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong, confirming the cause of death by conducting autopsies on the bodies would take around two weeks to complete. KMA President, Choi Dae-zip, states that the government should pause the program in order to identify the “cause of the recent deaths and ease the people’s concerns” (The Korea Times). 

Although the beginning of the flu season is a crucial time and the influx of patients could overwhelm hospitals across South Korea, reassuring the public and ensuring public safety is also extremely important. As Jeong Eun-kyeong stated, completing the autopsies and tests would take around two weeks to complete. Following the advice of the KMA, the KDCA should take the time to re-collect the released vaccines and conduct one more quality-control test on all of the vaccines as well as confirm the causes of the deaths. This will ease public panic, allowing more parents and families to feel comfortable getting vaccinated and ultimately having a positive impact on flu cases if completed in a timely manner. 

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: Sam Moqadam/Unsplash

Anti-Government Groups Conflict With Enforcement of COVID-19 Safety Measures

Religious groups in South Korea as well as anti-maskers in the States have protested against the enforcement of Coronavirus safety measures, conflicting with efforts to limit the spread of the disease.

Between September of 1918 and April of 1920, the notorious “Spanish Flu”, or H1N1 influenza A virus, raged across the globe, killing over 50 million people and infecting nearly  500 million. The Philadelphia decided not to cancel the Liberty Loan Parade, a promotional patriotic parade scheduled for September 28th , despite the ongoing pandemic.. On the day of the parade, 200,000 people poured into Broad Street, cheering and celebrating shoulder to shoulder in large crowds. As a result, the cases in Philadelphia nearly doubled in the span of a week. 

Though we’d assume we would learn from our historical mistakes, these unfortunate events have promptly repeated themselves with the unfolding of the COVID-19 outbreak. With skeptical anti-maskers, restless party-goers, and an inadequate government response, the cases in the US have skyrocketed.

South Korea has been able to avoid the tragic situation of the US with a swift and efficient response from the leading health officials. However,with the reopening of schools and several businesses came a sudden upturn of COVID-19 cases. Experts suspect certain church groups who have shown resistance against COVID-19 prevention requirements and have continued to meet in groups that exceed attendance restrictions enforced by the government. Much to the dismay of students and faculty, schools have shut down and resumed online learning. A number of shops that have suffered from virus outbreaks have also closed their doors. 

The Sarang Jeil Church is a right-wing religious group of Christians in South Korea. The group has become a huge topic of controversy with their members packing together in anti-government protests, and even going as far as to believe that the virus could potentially be a communist terrorist attack on their religious group. They claim that the South Korean president Moon Jae-In will turn South Korea into a communist country under his rule. Despite many of the members and even the Pastor, Jun Kwang-Hoon, testing positive for the virus, the members continued to rally in the streets, fueling the rapid ongoing spread of the virus. 

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Don’t the baseless claims of the anti-government Sarang Jeil Church group resemble the baseless claims of many anti-government US citizens? Haven’t the reasonless anti-maskers also fallen victim to the ailment of misinformation and corrupt media? According to Han Hwan-ho, a member of the Sarang Jeil Church, members rushed to unite with their fellow members in order to “to defend [their] country’s alliance with the United States and our freedom of religion”. Similar themes of freedom have surfaced in the United States with anti-maskers claiming that coronavirus safety measures are an infringement upon their personal rights. Protests by anti-maskers in the US, who rally without their masks and ignore social distancing, have contributed greatly to case spikes in several states. Similarly, gatherings of church members who ignore safety measures in Korea have also caused a sizable portion of increases in COVID-19 cases. These are the times in which listening to government authority is critical in preventing the spread of the virus, and citizen must protect each other by following safety guidelines. 

These unfortunate instances of ignorance and mistrust amongst anti-government protesters shine a bright light on the underlying social problems in both the US and South Korea as well as a multitude of other countries. Fake news and leaders who encourage irresponsible and illogical behaviour or beliefs have been shown to undermine attempts to mitigate coronavirus cases and have ultimately cost the world thousands of lives. Perhaps South Korea and the United States have more in common than we thought.

 -Michelle Lee (22′)

Featured Image: Ed Jones/Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Writing Can Make You Happier

Are you happy?

I’d like you to close your eyes and think about this question:

“Are you happy?”

Are you happy in this place, in this time, do you enjoy life? Of course, the most likely answer, would be ‘no’. The majority of my peers have answered ‘no’. Each replied with a laugh and a negative reply.

‘Even a retard couldn’t be happy in this place.’  

Why do we think these things? Why can’t we take the steps to smile, to follow the TED-talks, Youtube tutorials, Quora posts, and silly quizzes on unsecure websites—all telling us how to become happier? We sit here, wondering what happiness is, if we truly desire it, our heads tripping into that summer swing that flies nonchalantly through each vague, time-consuming question:

‘Am I happy?’

PC: MicheleSayers

We have all experienced our own hardships, and no matter how their severity may compare to each other, when it comes to deciding whether or not everyone is the same or completely unique there is one thing that all of humankind shares:

Pain

Happiness seems to be the most effectual way of healing pain; yet, we struggle remarkably to achieve it. Many young writers begin to write because they are dealing with certain pressures and various forms of stress. Writing usually starts from the books, the happiness of these stories and the places they describe draw us in and make us want to live to see them. And sometimes we cannot help but think that ‘One who writes happy things must be happy.’, thus, in our search of happiness, we begin to write.

But, you don’t necessarily have to always write about happy things. In my case, I drafted quick poems about the darkness of my room, the fear, the pain. However, each time I flipped a page, my words became more positive. Writers at the same time, indulge in pleasant imagery about the better memories of our lives. Though the drafts I created as a child were very badly written, each positive sentence of warmth and comfort placed itself so neatly into my head. Writing provides many with a pillow to cushion the stiff, stoic darkness of our thoughts.

Slowly, life becomes lighter.

This idea of self-healing revealed itself to me in the form of poetry, short, thoughtful walks, and more dozing off into space during breaks. Though the thought of these things may seem like ‘a waste of time’, I assure you they provide the exact opposite.

Many students stress excessively over their grades and test scores and are rarely exposed to “true-boredom”. Boredom seems like the ultimate waste of time, yet boredom is what I believe to be one of the very beginnings of writing. In a state of boredom, one experiences various thoughts, perhaps about the hue of the sky or the rain streaks on the window. Ideas resulting from boredom are often translated into into artistic portrayals of the absurd journey of their thought processes.

The more often one experiences these deeper moments, the better ideas they think of—thus resulting in an individual who is capable of more than just strictly academic thinking. Writing creates a world of escape, a leisurely space in which one can think freely about the things in their life, their opinions, or simply not think about those things at all.

Writing creates a more self-aware and empathetic environment for the writer—what I mean by this is that by writing about yourself and other people, by taking the time to write from the perspectives of those around you or characters from your imagination, you will naturally be given a higher capability of understanding yourself and others. With writing, even a beginner will gain the ability to think deeper and to take on more creative risks.

Taking more risks gives one a wider spectrum of choices in life, they’ll be more willing to seize new opportunities and chances. Studies have shown that the human brain is happier when presented with less flavors of ice cream to choose from, but life is not Baskin Robbins, and opportunities are not ice cream flavors. The more you reach for, the greater chance of you succeeding. While in the process of performing a risk, doubt and hesitation usually appear—which is where writing comes in handy. Writing about the risk you’re taking and why you’re taking it will make you more confident in continuing forward and completing the task you set out to do. You’ll be less fickle about your decision, less hesitant, more brave, and more excited than anxious to take the risk.

This, will ultimately make you, a happier, more accomplished individual, who has taken the risks they have always avoided, and who has taken the opportunities they have always been too scared to take.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured image: MicheleSayers

Why We Run – The Secrets Of Cross Country

The benefits of Cross Country far outweigh the struggle.

PC: Eliot Juno Yun ’19

Do you ever feel like you just don’t do enough in your life? You never go on volunteer trips because you’re too shy, too lazy, or don’t speak Korean… You never sign up or get into school clubs or committees that look pretty on other people’s college applications… I’m sure that at some point in your life, you’ve felt like this—hopeless.

The prejudiced summary of what people think when they hear “cross country” is all about the physical and mental stress that it puts on you and the terrible struggles you face throughout, but as a member of the team, I can say that this is not the whole truth. I asked a few questions to one cross-country captain, Jenny Lee…

(Interviewer): “Do you think that people should join cross-country?”

(Jenny – XC Captain): “Yes, definitely. Cross-country is a very beneficial sport… ”

(Interviewer): “Why?”

(Jenny): “Well, I guess cross-country just fits a wider variety of people… ”

One main benefit of cross-country is physical health. By running, you will gain muscle strength and endurance—and most likely your dream six-pack—but there are even more advantages you will receive. According to an article from Harvard Health, a runner’s risk of death by anything in general is reduced by 30% and their risk of death by strokes or heart attacks is reduced by 45%. Another article from the WomensRunning magazine stated that simply running 5 minutes each day was enough to decrease your risk of getting cardiovascular disease by 45%. Another fact is that you will undoubtedly end up drinking a much higher amount of water which has its own enormous set of health benefits on its own.

Another benefit of cross-country is mental health. According to the WomensRunning magazine, running reduces your risk of depression by 19%. And as they say, cross-country is a mental sport. The more you improve, the stronger your mind will be in terms of not giving up—which is a far more important skill than you might think. Cross-country is known as a mental sport because it focuses on long-distance running. You run at a certain pace for an extended period of time. Because of this, you have to spout nonsense positivity at yourself for the entire race to keep going, which has a surprisingly effective and positive impact on your mental state. The harder you try, the prouder you’ll be, and even if you don’t try that hard, you’ll still gain some degree of respect for yourself because you’re simply able to withstand that mental challenge.

There are no judgements in Cross-country—unless you brag to people about how hard it is and how amazing you are because you’re on the team. Age or social status doesn’t matter. You will be accepted into the team no matter how strange you are. And to be absolutely honest, the team members might be the weirdest you’ll ever meet—including the coaches. I observed that everyone was running their own race. Cross-country may be a team, but we are all running our own individual races to improve ourselves.

The students that don’t do this sport usually say they don’t do cross-country because they’re not good at running. According to several members of the team, “whether you are good at running or not, doesn’t really matter”—it is just an excuse for their lack of motivation. Of course, this may not be true and some students may prioritise other sports or activities over cross-country, but if you’ve got nothing else to do, why not take just two hours of your time slacking off, procrastinating, and simply sign a few forms that say “Off campus agreement” and “Medical release form”, etc… that really mean, “I want to improve myself”.

Running is hard. There is no denying that it is, but I’d argue that dying of heart attacks, strokes, or cancer is just as stressful. Do you not believe that practising alongside these funny, enjoyable team members to get a healthier, stronger body, stronger mind, and greater respect for yourself and others, is worthwhile? You may say you’re never going to join cross-country, that it’s not worth the shaky breath, the sweat, the aches and cramps, but as one of the captains has said before, “People should join cross-country for its benefits, and for the fact that it fits a variety of people”.

What she meant by this, was that no matter how short, how tall, how unpopular, popular, or smart you are, the team will care for you—so long as you treat everyone else with true, unbiased respect. You will be given immediate value for joining and you will learn to love yourself and be more confident. I have never seen more equal, accepting, and supportive a family as the KIS cross-country team.

– Michelle Lee (‘22)

Featured image: Eliot Juno Yun (’19)

Everything They Told You—The Dangers Of Gossip

PC: socialidentitynetwork.com

Through countless judgments, lies, regrets, and false assumptions, I’ve come to a standstill in my thoughts about relationships—both with friends and family. The diffusion of information through rumors and gossip spreads like rapid fire, twisting simultaneously in multiple paths of communication, like minerals flowing through the roots of a tree. So common is this type of transmission, that any normal person would be tied into its complex passageways. If we were to look at the cause of all this, often times exaggerated information, we see it starts with one person. They hear that another person has done something out of the norm, something weird, amazing, disappointing, or disgusting—they tell it to someone else around them, who tells the same thing to another person around them, and the information spreads with an insanely rapid pace, sometimes reaching entire grade levels in only a few hours,

Especially in middle school was tougher than it should have been for many people, making them care about their appearance and think that beauty was the key to gaining momentum on the social ladder. What was fueling this was gossip that sucked away at our self-consciousness, envy, and fear.

We think that gossip is harmless, that as long as someone doesn’t hear something, they won’t be hurt by it. But it’s only a matter of time until the snowballed rumor reaches that person.

Plain and simple, gossiping is bullying, but an especially hard one to catch. There are simply too many lies that float around, whizzing past one student, transferring to another—like a multitude of diseases that everyone is infected with. Though we don’t hear much about gossip, it is a serious problem, a problem that is hard to solve, and a problem that exists everywhere. People often want lies to be true, and it is terrifying how easily they accept them.

In our school, there is a sea of complicated hatred, woven inside and out with piercing deceptions; all created by our classmates, siblings, friends, and even parents. And this is such a disappointment to all of us.

The next time you find yourself about to whisper something to your friend about the ‘gross’ kid in the back, take a step back and realize that you have no right to judge them that way if you don’t know a single damn thing about them. Think about the consequences of that our actions will take, imagine being subject to months of alienation, rejection, disgusted stares, and whispers. Imagine withstanding the pain of exclusion as our ‘friends’ leave you, convinced that the lies spread around us are true.

– Michelle Lee ‘22

Featured Image: socialidentitynetwork.com