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:


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

Sports and COVID

With COVID continuing to persist, is it worth it – or safe – to play sports?

Céspedes gets on-deck as cardboard fans look on

“Of all the unimportant things, football (soccer) is the most important” – St. John Paul II

Sports are a key factor in many people’s lives that affects both their mood and their enjoyment of life. Watching sports is entertaining and the organizations that sponsor these sports make tons of revenue. However, the coronavirus has thrown a kink into 2020’s sports plans. 

The NBA has arguably done the best job at managing the coronavirus. They’ve created a ‘bubble’ in which all teams, with their players and staff, are going to be playing in Orlando together. It has worked incredibly well so far in limiting the cases of coronavirus in the NBA to 0. The organization has successfully managed to organize games with 22 teams of players and around 1400 staff members without instigating any threats to public health and wellbeing. Clearly, the work that Adam Silver put into learning about the virology and logistics of containing the virus has paid off. 

However, less can be said about the MLB. The New York Times reported on the Marlins, Phillies, and Cardinals, all with coronavirus cases that caused delays. It was clear to Zac Shomler from Strong Opinion Sports that Rob Manfred, the commissioner of the MLB, has done a far worse job at setting an example for the type of conduct that was to be followed in order to prevent coronavirus cases. Although a bubble like the NBA would be more difficult to maintain for larger leagues such as the MLB, it was still poorly managed as to how seriously players and staff should be concerned with maintaining their safety. These delays make it harder for teams to go through with playoffs, as regular season games become more staggered. 

The NFL season has yet to start, but training camps have already seen cases of coronavirus pop up. Now, if a bubble with the MLB would be hard, an NFL bubble would be downright impossible. NFL teams would have 32 teams, with a roster of around 40-50 players each, and their own staff of around 3800 people each on average. It would be a logistical nightmare, and there is not even a facility to house that many people in order to have a bubble. However, teams have begun to check into hotels, so that there is less contact with outsiders. Teams and staff are living in their own hotels and going from training camp to the hotel everyday. According to the Washington Post, there were “56 players [that] had tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the opening of training camps,” but Allen Sills, the chief medical officer of the NFL, says that they expect more cases to arise, and that their goal is to quickly identify and prevent the spread of these cases. Even so, some players have begun to opt out of practice and likely of the season completely, given that it would even start. 

These struggles are universal as coronavirus takes an ever larger toll on the world. Professional sports, although entertaining, should be considered as a luxury of a time before the pandemic. The leagues outside of the NBA get larger and deal with more staff and players, making any solution that is reminiscent of the NBA’s a logistical nightmare. It is far more important that the health and safety of the players is considered, especially in the US where the handling of coronavirus has been far less consistent. 

– Sean Choe ‘21

Featured Image: Al Bello/Getty Images

What to do in Sydney, Australia

Visiting Australia but don’t know what to do?

Koalas. Kangaroos. Platypus. These are some common things that people say when they think about Australia. However, in addition to these unique wildlife animals, Sydney is known for its various tourist attractions, ranging from the Sea Life Aquarium to a revolving tower restaurant. If you are ever visiting Sydney, here are some tourists spots recommended by someone who was born and lived there for over a decade:

  1. Climb the Harbor Bridge

Fill your stay in Sydney with some adventure by taking on the harbor bridge. With three courses available, you can choose which route to climb in order to meet your venture needs. Whether it’s the original three and half hour course where you climb to the top, you will find a path just for you. With a balance of flat walking and ladder climbing, this venture will make you afraid, happy, and thrilled. With the best tour guides climbing with you till the end, you will experience the unique Sydney experience with great views and sightseeing from the top.

2. Sydney Sea Life Aquarium

Unlike other aquarium, the Sydney Sea Life Aquarium brings you the most singular creatures of Australia. Whether it is the long crocodile or the classic sea creatures, this place will get your young curiosity rolling. If you are ever with kids, make sure to ride the penguin ride, which will take you through the penguins on a boat!

3. Wild Life Sydney Zoo


Experience the raw beauty of Australia through the wild life life zoo that has all the classic Australian animals kangaroos, platypus, and of course koalas. With a balance of indoor and outdoor experience, you will experience the wildlife of Australia. You will also be able to cuddle a Koala in the koala zone or take a photo of one of the largest crocodiles on land.

4. The Rocks Market

A classic go-to for my family anytime we go to a new country, visit the Rocks Market where they sell variety of home-made crafts, arts, and of course food. Whether it is buying a freshly made bubble bath soap from one of the nicest couple in town or purchasing, there are always some vintage or modern clothes and souvenirs you can get.

5. Sydney Tower Revolving Restaurant


Want to have a family dinner AND see the city of Sydney all in one go? The Sydney Tower Revolving Restaurant has got your back. Here, you can enjoy a nice buffet ranging from western to asian food as the platform moves 360 degrees. Make sure you don’t put your hat or bags on the side though- you’ll lose it!

6. Chinatown

Every major city has a Chinatown. However, the one is Sydney is richly dense with the most delicious food from every Chinese cuisine you can think of. Whether it is the home made bubble tea or seafood, you can grab a perfect dinner with your family. You can also enjoy the daily performances at the intersection.

Of course, there are so many other places in Sydney to go. It is no doubt that walking in the bustling city of Sydney will give you the ambience of the country. However, the tourist attractions I have listed here will give you a thrilling experience that you will remember for a long time.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

*All photos were taken by author, unless otherwise noted in the caption.

The Growth of the Self-Help Industry: An Economic Examination

In the modern digital age, information has never been as accessible as it was in the past. However, such access can also be a double-edged sword, not only providing us with the ability to gain knowledge with the touch of a button but also making us painfully aware of our own perceived inadequacies. This seems to have given fuel to one particular sector, the self-help industry, which, in recent years, has experienced tremendous growth. This industry focuses on self-improvement in basically all aspects of life and aims to help people achieve their goals ranging from appearing more physically fit to overcoming depression or anxiety. As of 2017, the self-help industry was worth $9.9 billion with a projected average annual growth rate of 5.6%. With the growth of digital platforms, the self-help industry has now become an integral part of mass media: its branches include but are not limited to books, TV shows, websites, and even seminars and smartphone apps. So, what has fueled this industry’s financial success over the last twenty years? The aim of this report is to explore the economic rise of the self-help industry by examining current income inequality as a possible source driving the self-help industry’s demand.

To better understand the enormous demand for the self-help industry’s services, it is important to first explore the current economic climate in the United States. Over the last forty years, the gap between the rich and the poor has widened. Today, it is estimated that the top 10% of the population, in terms of income, owns over 80% of the nation’s wealth. According to a Senate testimony by Melissa Kearney of the Brookings Institute, since 1975, “families in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution saw their income increase by a mere 3.7 percent while those in the top five percent saw an average income gain of 57 percent.” Much of this began in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan, who instituted a series of tax cuts and overturned many business regulations. These changes have led to a hollowing out of the middle class with the rich getting wealthier while the poor remain mired in financial difficulties. However, with the growth of technology, people are constantly bombarded with images of wealth. Through the Internet and social media, people see that there is great wealth to be had, and those in the bottom half naturally desire a way up the financial ladder. This has led to the enormous demand for self-improvement, which has, in turn, created a robust market for the growth of the self-help industry.

With this growing market, those with expertise seized the opportunity to monetize the information they had. They saw that there was a large segment of the population that desired professional development with the goal of advancing themselves economically and knew that they could provide those people with the help they desired for a price. Self-help books represent one area that reflects this popularity: this sub-industry is worth $800 million as of 2017 with a 6% projected annual growth rate. For example, the book Mindsight, one that advocates a clinical and scientific approach to self-improvement, is written by Dr. Daniel J. Siegel, a medical doctor and professor at UCLA In the “health” genre, Siegel is the 16th most popular author, and Mindsight is currently ranked in the top 100 books of this genre. App developers have also taken advantage of this opportunity. Self-improvement apps have generated enormous revenue despite being relatively new; the top ten apps in the United States earned about $15 million in 2018’s first quarter alone, and the most popular app in the United States, Calm, has a net worth of $250 million and was named the 2017 Apple App of the Year. The app’s content creator and bestselling author Tamara Levitt’s approach of mindfulness has been implemented by schools, hospitals, companies, and prisons in prior years. In the field of lectures and seminars, the TED Talks also show the self-help industry’s popularity. These short videos have been known to be reliable ways in which people can learn about and improve themselves. The organization behind the TED Talks has hosted many experts giving advice on self-improvement, such as businessman Dan Gilbert and psychologist Shawn Achor. TED’s reliability comes from its policy that “science and health information shared from the stage must be supported by peer-reviewed research.” Indeed, the 25 most popular TED Talks have garnered an average of 26 million likes, enormously contributing to the popularity of the self-help industry.[15] In these cases, the widespread popularity of the self-help industry has been enhanced by the work of experienced, credible people who aim to help others by sharing their expertise and knowledge. This trend shows how the rising demand for self-improvement has fueled the exponential growth of this market as people flock to take advantage of the opportunities this market provides.

Yet, there is also a darker side to the self-help industry’s growth over the past few years. While there are many legitimate sources of information that are meant to help others and take advantage of an economic opportunity, there are also those who wish to prey on the enormous demand for self-improvement. Some people, with the sole desire to exploit this social trend to their benefit, advertise bogus self-improvement programs and products that do no more than waste the consumer’s time and money, sometimes by using the power behind a brand to market useless products. One important example is Trump University, thrown into the spotlight by David Fahrenthold’s 2016 exposé for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. According to Steve Gilpin, a former professor at Trump University, Donald Trump used his reputation as a real estate mogul to draw in students who paid about $1,495 for a “one year apprenticeship” and up to $35,000 for “Gold Elite” classes. Other examples of possible scams include motivational speakers like Tony Robbins and Dave Ramsey, who are both widely popular; as of 2018, Robbins has about 7 million followers on social media, and Ramsey has about five million. In 2016, the total revenue of motivational speakers was $207 million and was projected to grow about 3% a year. Some, however, question the methods and teachings of these speakers. The Motley Fool, a Virginia-based private wealth management company, has found that Dave Ramsey’s advice on retirement planning could leave people economically unprepared for retirement. More recently in 2016, the famed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his personal chef released a $200 cookbook detailing Brady’s strict diet. The outrageous cost of the book, according to Brady’s website, is justified by its “natural wood [cover],” and “laser-etched TB12 logo and title.” It is Brady’s popularity, though, that has caused many to accept this unreasonable price tag. Although this part of the self-help industry is comprised of people using their fame to market products, the actual benefits of their “advice” are largely questionable. Yet, as more and more of these pseudo-experts join the market, the self-help industry continues to grow at an exponential rate.

Some may argue that the growth of the self-help industry is merely a natural result of the growth of technology. While technology may partially explain the enormous growth of this industry, it is important to also factor in the role income inequality plays in its popularity. The widening of the income gap, along with the advancement of technology, has led people to desire a better life. Seeking improvement through the traditional methods of attaining a degree may not be feasible for those in the bottom half of the income bracket. This demand has created a market for those seeking to capitalize on their talents or knowledge. Add to this those who want to prey on the people who seek help by fooling them out of their money and it is understandable why the self-help industry has been so financially successful over the past few years.

– William Cho (’21)

Featured Image: Grist.org

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)

Making the Most out of your Lunar Break

Lunar New Year is one of the biggest celebrations in countries like Korea. Families meet up and share a meal while catching up with each other. The four day Lunar New Year holiday is just around the corner starting from fourth of February until the eighth. While some of us will be traveling to the shi-gol to visit relatives, many will be staying in Seoul. As for those traveling, there will still be a couple of days before departing. This year, whether you are here in Korea for traveling or have time left after visiting relatives, instead of spending the majority of your break lying around the couch all day, why don’t you make the most out of this year’s Lunar New Year break by trying new things?

During the Lunar New Year, there are several exclusive festivals and events around Seoul that is an opportunity to learn more about the Korean culture.

Gyeongbokgung Palace (경복궁)

The Gyeongbokgung Palace is the largest of all the five palaces and was the main royal palace in the Joseon dynasty during 1395. The palace was destroyed during the Imjin War but was later restored. With lots of historical and cultural elements, Gyeongbokgung palace currently attracts many tourists. During the Lunar New Year, the admission fee is free to everyone and many people choose to wear hanboks (Korean traditional dress) while walking around inside the palace. For those who don’t own hanboks, there are hanbok rental shops inside so everyone could experience it. Also, if you want to fully experience the Korean culture, there are Korean traditional guest houses inside the palace that you could make reservations for.

Credits: www.rpm9.com

Korean Folk Village (민속촌)

The “Fortune Party Celebrating Seoul” will be held in the Korean Folk Village from February 11 to 12 and from 15 to 16. This festival only happens during the New Year and there are multiple attractions such as face painting, horse riding, kite flying, rice cake pounding, and many more. In addition to that, there would also be Korean traditional performances including dancing, acrobats on tightropes, and horse shows throughout the day. The Korea Folk Village is open from 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM and the fee for all of the attractions only costs W18,000.

Credits: www.klook.com

Pyeongyang-myseonok (평양면옥)   

While many of the restaurants would close during the holiday, Pyeongyang-myeonsok would still be open. Located in the district of Jung-gu, Seoul, Pyeongyang-myseonok is one of the oldest and best naengmyeon (traditional Korean noodle) restaurants in Seoul. It is known that after the Korean War, many of those who fled from the north settled near the Dongdaemun station and opened naengmyeon restaurants. Pyeongyang-myseonok is one of the restaurants opened during this time and it is still loved from all mix of people from working men to naengmyeon lovers to tourists. Since this restaurant is always overflowing during lunchtime, it is recommended to avoid peak hours.

Han River Ferry Cruise (한강유람선)  

By riding the Han River (Hangang River) Ferry Cruise, you can easily see all the famous landmarks of Seoul such as the Seoul Tower, the 63 Building, and the Sports Complex. Going on this cruise during the Korean Lunar New Year would allow you to enjoy live music performances and fireworks. This cruise attracts both travelers and Seoul residents as it provides a luxurious buffet and time to spend time on the cruise. There are currently two terminals and seven docks available for the cruise, which is Yeouido, Jamsil, Ttukseom, Jamdubong, Seonyudo, Seoul Forest, Gimpo, and Incheon.   

Each of these places shows a different aspect of Korean culture and it would help to make memorable experiences during your four-day break! For this Lunar New Year, we recommend visiting at least one of these places to make your holiday special.

– Jenna Jang (‘22)

Featured image: www.lifentalk.com

Is Social Media Ruining Us?

Could digital technology and its facile propagation through social media be numbing our senses about reality, especially when it targets emotionally vulnerable teenagers?

Carolyn Stritch, a 32-year-old blogger, pulled off a hoax. Photoshopping herself in front of Sleeping Beauty’s castle, she tricked more than 190,000 of her Instagram followers to believe that she went to Disneyland when, in fact, she had been at home the whole time.

bp social media
Image: Carolyn Stritch

This seemingly harmless experiment reflects a larger picture of the realities in the digital age: an ability to distort reality for the eyes of the mass public. It is a known fact that the digital world inherently differs from our physical realmits ability to represent the complexities of our lives is limited at best. Could digital technology and its facile propagation through social media be numbing our senses about reality, especially when it targets emotionally vulnerable teenagers?

A phenomenon called Facebook depression is one such piece of evidence; more time spent on social media outlets statistically correlates to low self-esteem and unhappiness. That is, the more we expose ourselves and limit our vision to the positive milestones of others, the more we normalize an “all-high” life. And it is understandable, becauselet’s face itmost, if not, all of our Instagram feeds are a culmination of carefully selected photos of the most aesthetically flawless pictures accompanied by the wittiest captions. Who can deny that these fail to represent even 1% of the mundane chores and ugly breakdowns of our true daily life? When we compare the entirety of our lives to the pinnacle of others’, we become complicit in our own misery.

Social media’s standardization of unrealistic beauty among us paints another unsettling picture of social media. For many, it is second nature to tap on our phones with a few effortless clicks that magically slim our waists, enlarge our eyes, and clear our blemishes. In particular, given the impossibly narrow standard of beauty espoused by the Korean society—pale, white skin topped by a sharp-cut V line and an unusual obsession with double eyelids—tools that expunge every flaw become devastatingly toxic. It leaves no room for diversity and pressures all into a cookie-cutter model of beauty.

The ability to fantasize has always been a part of who we are. As we dream of becoming something we are not, we challenge ourselves to shed off our old skin and become the best version of ourselves. However, new avenues of digital technology have infiltrated reality in ways we had never expected. Perhaps now, we are losing our footing amid the overwhelmingly fictitious world of our own creation. It’s time to own our social media instead of remaining mere slaves to its unrealistic whims and demands. Social media can be more than a competition ground spurring gossip about who lives the most lavish lifeit can be a remarkable avenue through which we share our meaningful projects, candid smiles, and beauty in being our genuine, flawed selves. After all, our lives are authentic, complex, and free of the swing of a cure-all wand.

Featured Image: Hannah Kim (’19)

– Janie Do (‘20)

4 Reasons to Avoid Senioritis

The time has come once again— as the second semester kicks off, the halls are lit up by jokes about a special group of people going through a special time: seniors. “Oh, let’s count how many days you show up to class,” someone says; “but who cares about APs at this point?” someone asks. Senioritis is an annual phenomenon that never fails to disappoint. Once that last college application has been submitted, 12th graders seem to instantly slump into a state of indifferent lethargy.

The obvious argument against senioritis put forth by KIS administrators and counselors is: if your grades drop significantly, you may get your college admissions offer rescinded, or worse, fail to graduate. But everyone knows this is quite rare. Most students suffering from senioritis slack off just enough so that they put in minimal effort to avoid serious consequences. That’s not what I call “avoiding senioritis”. I’m arguing for active effort, straight through the end of the semester. What if we actually worked as hard, or even harder, than we ever have?

Why would we do that, you ask?

Well, keep reading.

Senioritis contributes to the “college is everything” culture. KIS has suffered from an environment that stresses college admissions above everything else, and seniors know this better than anyone. They are the most recent victims of a society that places value on individuals and activities for their admissions-related consequences. All-star intelligent student? Oh, but he didn’t get into an Ivy. Intriguing after-school activity? Oh, but it won’t help you get into college. How annoying has that been throughout our high school lives?This is exactly the kind of mindset we should be fighting. But by refusing to care about school after college applications are all turned in, seniors contribute to the idea that college is the end-all, be-all goal. So can we instead decide to fight that idea, and make the most of our time in high school for its inherent value?

Senioritis shows disrespect to your teachers. Imagine you’re one of those teachers that put in hours after school to plan classes and think about students. It hurts to think that students don’t care at all. Above all, it would probably hurt to see how someone who showed active effort and real interest in first semester completely disappeared after they got into college, showing you that it was all a fake mask. Taking it easy is okay; completely reversing your attitude is not.

Second semester is your transition to college. This is the last semester seniors have before heading into college, which will undoubtedly be a time with a more intense workload and much more individual responsibility. So if your choices include watching Netflix for 7 hours straight after school, forgetting about studies entirely, and not bothering to earn a passing score for your APs, this may affect you moving forward. For example, many APs are given college credit— so it’s probably beneficial to look up the AP credit chart of the schools you may be attending so you keep the motivation to do well on those APs. Besides, if you get into the habit of maintaining a horrible work ethic and time management patterns, you may suffer once you step onto the college campus.

It’s a chance to explore and do what you really want. Take college admissions out of the equation. That gives you a whole semester to do what you really want. In truth, the three reasons I have mentioned thus far pale in comparison to how passionately I believe in this one. It’s good, I think, to relax a little when it comes to academic work. This is a time to let go of grade obsession. But jumping straight into the pool of naps and TV-bingeing is a wasted opportunity. Instead, see this as a chance to invest in other things. What kind of person do you want to be? What is something you’ve always wanted to do? Maybe you can sign up for songwriting classes, go out to concerts, start working out, or learn how to cook with your mom. You could potentially head into college a slightly changed person.

In the end, the only advice I put forth is to not let this time merely go to waste. Most of all, seniors should keep in mind that this is probably the last time you will spend large amounts of time with your current friends— those you’ve laughed, cried, and struggled with, perhaps shared your first sip of alcohol or your first love. So take that into account. Show up and make more memories to end your tumultuous journey on a shining, wholesome note you won’t end up regretting once you’re off in college.

– Jisoo Hope Yoon ‘19

Featured Image: James Lee (12), Yejean Kim (12), Daniel Kim (12), taken by the author

Marketers’ Manipulation of Customers

Seollal, or Lunar New Year, is soon approaching. Surely, this holiday is meant for distant families to finally meet and catch up while all huddled together around good food. However, this is also a holiday where the department store sales skyrocket with soaring sales of extravagant gift baskets. In weeks leading up to the holiday, marketers are making use of various effective tactics to deceive customers into purchasing their product.

When technology was not as accessible as it is now, marketing was done personally by gradually building relationships with them. The owner of a supermarket would have daily conversations with customers living across the street and have workaday conversations whenever they stopped by. However, in half a century, this all changed with the rise of technology. Now, marketing lost its once warm and friendly human touch. Instead, marketers are busy crunching numbers to find the best way to cleverly deceive their customers so that even the customers wouldn’t notice.

Here’s one. Human nature makes us to be more attached to products with emotional relevance. Marketers use this to increase their sales by artificially engineering personal connections with the customers. Sam Biddle, a writer for Gizmodo, summarizes this process in a five-part plan: approach, probe, present, listen, and end. Through this five-step process, marketers aim to make the customers think that their needs are being understood and empowered. As Biddle puts it, the key to mastering the process is to “[becoming] strong while appearing compassionate; persuade while seeming passive, and empathize your way to sale.”

Any marketing employees are expected masterfully execute this process, and the five-part plan’s touch is commonplace is any stores we walk in. Employees often approach the customers with a friendly smile, and product descriptions frequently use words such as “feel,” “felt,” or “found.” This is no coincidence. These words create a caring and compassionate image for the company as part of a company’s emotional engineering scheme. Ultimately, this image can help customers become more attached to the brand or product and ultimately increase marketing sales.

But, in the end, a marketers’ primary purpose is not to have empathy or establish real relationships; it is simply to find the most effective way to maximize their sales. These relationships would only be existent when it is beneficial for the marketers and fade as soon as the customer is not seen as valuable. Feigning false intimacy to the clients is just one way of establishing their goal.

Another tactic marketers use is blurring out customers’ ability to distinguish between their wants and their needs. Dr. David Lewis, the author of Secrets of Inspirational Selling explains that marketers “generate an emotional desire so powerful that… it has to be satisfied, no matter what the cost.”

One efficient way to turn a want into a need is through imposing scarcity. Off-White converse, which was sold for 45,000 dollars during Christmas last year, was a limited edition shoe that grabbed international attention. With only a thousand of them available in Korea, it immediately triggers the thought “I need that!” Because of this, this shoe was sold out. Such marketing tactics also cause an impulsive reaction that makes a customer to buy large amounts of the product. Marketers call this smart advertising. We call it manipulation.

There is no way to completely rid marketing from our modern society. It is an inevitable part of our economy and lifestyle. However, being aware of the methods marketers use to manipulate customers can prevent ourselves to get overwhelmed and make impulsive decisions. So next time when facing situations where you are putting everything you see in the shopping cart, stop and think once again. You might be caught in one of the marketers’ deception.

– Jenna Jang (22)

Featured Image: Enterrasolutions.com

Getting Ready for Winter Break

With finals just around the corner and December SATs over, you can soon finally take a breather from academics! But how do you spend the best winter break while your schedule is, unfortunately, packed with hagwons? With vibrant shopping scenes, iconic sightseeing, and extensive food culture, there is a limitless list of places to go. But, with limited time (and budget), where do you start?

  1. COEX Mall

Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 9.01.12 PMLocated near Korea’s World Trade Center, COEX is loaded with both local and international chain stores, MEGABOX theatre, Starfield library, arcade, casino, and even an aquarium. You may have visited for MUN or mock trial events because there are huge convention and exhibition centers. COEX mall not only attracts its title as the largest shopping mall in the country but also the largest underground mall in Asia! COEX is serviced by Samseong Station on line 2 and Bongeunsa Station on line 9 of the Seoul Subway. Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 9.02.00 PM.png

The Don Quijote of Korea, they call it. “삐에로쑈핑” is the biggest miscellaneous store where you can browse through millions of products in one place. You can purchase unique–albeit useless–items that are very affordable.



2. Underground Shopping

Hiding below the streets of South Korea is the underground shopping malls. As this shopping lane in Korea is a growing culture that showcases a plethora of retailers in cosmetic, clothing, accessories, and more. This would be the best fit for you if you’re on a tight budget! The underground shopping area in Subway Line 2 Gangnam Station perhaps offers the most dynamic experience. You will be mesmerized by such culture. 

3. Garosu-gil

Latest fashion trends with chic boutiques, aesthetic cafes, and renowned restaurants are some aspects you can expect at Garosu-gil. Located along the promenade of the tree-lined road, Garosu-gil is one of the most attractive point-of-interest for Korean teenagers and young adults.

Must go to’s:Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 9.17.45 PM.pngScreen-Shot-2018-12-10-at-9.16.43-PM.png

  • C27
  • Dore Dore
  • The Alley
  • SikMulHak
  • Sona
  • Gentle Monster
  • Aland

4. Rodeo  (Apgujung)

Just a short walk away from Garosu-gil, the Rodeo street located in Apgujung is also a popular choice for many young adults. Across the main street, you can find Galleria department store, where you can afford designer labels.

5. MyeongDong Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 9.19.38 PM.png

You’ve probably already heard about MyeongDong as it is, undeniably, the most famous shopping area in Seoul. With a fusion of both Western and Eastern fashion style, MyeongDong provides mouth-watering street food, well-known shopping stores, and jaw-dropping street performances. Screen Shot 2018-12-10 at 9.20.32 PM.png


  1. Myeongdong Kyoja
  2. Style Nanda Pink Hotel
  3. Street food

Evidently, South Korea is a heaven from shopping fanatics, so put some festivity in your weekends this winter with my guide to the best cafes and other points-of-interest around Seoul. Don’t just live through the mundane routine of going back and forth from hagwons studying for SATs and APs. Instead, feel the magic of holiday shopping with your family and friends! Enjoy!

– Jennie Yeom (’20)

Featured Image: Shutterstock