Parasite Oscars

And the winner is… PARASITE. 

Best Picture, Best Director, Best International Feature Film, and Best Original Screenplay.

The Academy Awards, more popularly known as the Oscars, is one of the most prestigious events in the film industry as the awards signify international recognition of excellence in cinematic achievements. However, recognition for foreign films had been largely limited, especially for Asian films. That is, until the South Korean Film “Parasite” wrote history at the 92nd Oscars.


Director Bong Joon Ho at the 2020 Oscars

“Parasite” is a South Korean black comedy film that highlights how greed and class discrimination threaten the newly formed symbiotic relationship between the wealthy Park family and the destitute Kim clan. The core issue of the film is not unique to South Korean Society, but one that is prevalent around the world. Even without vilifying the rich nor glorifying the poor, the movie was still able to clearly address the outrageousness of the income inequality system that relates to quite frankly every person whether they be on the higher or lower end of the income spectrum. The witty and biting social criticism by director Bong Joon Ho is one of the main reasons why the film has garnered such international acclaim. 


92nd Academy Awards

The film “Parasite” was nominated for six Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best foreign language film, Best original screenplay, Best production design, Best film editing. Four out of the six awards it was nominated for were brought back home. Parasite won more awards than any other film that night–foreign and U.S. films included. Bong Joon Ho became the 2nd Asian to win Best Director after Ang Lee in 2013. But real history was written when “Parasite” claimed victory over the Best Picture Award, which had never been won by a foreign film in the 92-year history of the Oscars. 

The unprecedented achievement of a foreign film sweeping at a largely ‘American’ award ceremony inevitably led to controversy. Notoriously, Trump was seen mocking the Oscars for awarding “Parasite,” South Korean Film, the Best Picture Award, while expressing nostalgia for films like “Gone with the Wind” and “Sunset Boulevard.” His ignorant and narcissistic comments enraged fans worldwide. 

Buzzfeed News

Nonetheless, the achievements of “Parasite” has led Bong Joon Ho to become a trailblazer, opening up new paths for future generations of directors, especially in South Korea, to follow his footsteps. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from the historic  2020 Oscar awards can be summarized by Bong Joon Ho’s famous quote: “Once you overcome the 1inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films.” 

Why China’s Dominance In eSports Isn’t Surprising

Back-boarding off of the recent Chinese dominance in multiple global eSports competition, specifically League of Legends, the Chinese video gaming community looked poised to take over the world in terms of the sheer number and talent of its players. Just around a year ago, the eSports organization Invictus Gaming (IG) took home the League of Legends World Championship trophy for their Chinese fans in a dominant fashion. Taking down all competition—including the historically prevailing region of South Korean teams—IG began the subversion of the global League of Legends regional hierarchy, toppling anyone above them and setting China on the throne. Last Sunday, too, the 2019 LoL World Championship trophy went to the hands of—you guessed it— Chinese team Fun Plus Phoenix. 

This display of dominance, especially on an international stage, is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly by both those engaged and unaware of the eSports scene. Raking in millions of viewers and billions of dollars of revenue and sponsorships, professional League of Legends has generated more profit than many national and international athletic events. Seeing a massive and relatively recent surge in viewership, the eSports industry now functions as different multi-genre tournaments that revolve around different video games. Games such as League of Legends have regional tournaments, culminating in one grand World Championship between the winners of these regions. Last year, China ended up taking the trophy home in dominant form.

So where does this newfound skill come from? Well, the answer is that they’ve always been a fairly dominant region. From legendary players like Uzi and XiaoHu, Chinese players have continuously displayed why they’re the cream of the crop. However, for many years, China was unable to beat the goliath-like South Korean teams who outperformed them not only in game but talent fostering, management, organizational structure, practice culture, and investment. With the adaptation of South Korean professionalism in eSports, though, Chinese organizations became an impenetrable castle, buttressed with generous funding, and began outperforming their rivals. Apart from the professional changes, there were many reasons why the Chinese dominance isn’t surprising. With internet cafes engineered to accommodate high-level gaming dispersed around the entire country, children can begin playing video games, not only League of Legends, from a nascent age. Wielding a population of 1.4 billion, it’s only natural that there are thousands of young, eager talent ready to be recruited and trained to be the region’s next superstars. For China, success in eSports was predetermined with everything lined up for them—becoming the best was only a matter of time and patience. 

So where does that leave us now? Will China remain as dominant as they have been in recent years? Is this merely a fluke and repeated failures by the rest of the world? That’s impossible to tell. From the performance displayed at this year’s LoL World Championship by revitalized South Korean organizations and rising European superstar teams, there’s a high chance the Chinese dynasty gets toppled as quickly as it began. But it’s also almost as likely that they remain triumphant in the face of new challenges. China as a country has all the conditions required to maintain their grasp over the world in eSports—a massive population, stressful school environments leading to cravings for entertainment, feverishly addictive video game cafes, and a massive pride to protect. If the Chinese government chooses to invest in this industry and develop infrastructure through funds, it will be better for not only Chinese teams, but imperative to the betterment of the entire industry.

–Andrew Hong (’20)

Reality Check, Mr. President

It’s high time that the president learns that he is not above the law. 

On September 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced an impeachment inquiry into the president. This decision was backed by resounding support from the House Democrats, with over 95 percent of them being openly supportive of the investigation. 

The impeachment inquiry stems from two main reasons. The first is the shocking news that Trump had talked to the president of Ukraine about investigating Joe Biden, the former vice president and his political opponent for the 2020 elections, although there is no evidence of wrongdoing by him. In addition, he has withheld nearly $400 million in military aid from Ukraine just days before the transaction was to take place in order to focus on the investigation. 

The longtime accusations that he had conspired with the Russians to sabotage the 2016 elections didn’t help, either. This isn’t the first time that the president has thought that he is above the law. A comprehensive investigation paper named the Mueller Report (after the lead investigator, Robert Mueller), which was released a few months ago, outlines the illegal actions Trump and the Russian government took to uncover harmful information about Hillary Clinton through the emails of government information she sent via her private email address. Although the report seemed damning enough, Trump managed to squeeze his way out of an impeachment. The anger of the nation continued to fester under the surface. 

But now it’s erupting with full force. 

What’s frankly hilarious is that the president thinks that he can run away from this situation and cover it up with flamboyant, inflammatory remarks and tweets, like he has always done. In a letter to the House Democratic leaders, the White House said that the inquiry had “violated precedent and denied President Trump’s due process rights in such an egregious way that neither he nor the executive branch would willingly provide testimony or documents,” according to the New York Times. It went so far as to announce that “it would not cooperate with what it called an illegitimate effort ‘to overturn the results of the 2016 election’”. To add the cherry on top of this fabulous sundae of distractions, Trump mocked the democrats by calling the house a “kangaroo court”. 

What he doesn’t know is that the world is now mocking him. There’s nothing he can do; this week, House Democrats plan to hold their first public hearings in their impeachment inquiry into Trump for his communications with Ukraine. 

Reality check, Mr. President.

– Lauren Cho (’22)

Image: The New York Times

The Silent Voice of Nature

What the new EPA head Scott Pruitt has in mind for our nature

Ever since Rachel Carson’s SIlent Spring revealed the unexpected hazards of agricultural chemical pesticides, humanity’s perception of the environment has altered. Americans, for the first time, realized how their technological progress has come at the expense of our Earth. “In nature nothing exists alone,” Carson has stated, and indeed human lives are inevitably intertwined with the breath of our very home.

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E.P.A logo

 

In effect, the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) was founded in 1970, with hopes to protect human health and the environment through legislative means. For years, the E.P.A has endured as the main U.S agency in tackling pollution, instigating series of reforms such as the Toxic Substances Control Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the Clean Air Act, while attempting to curtail and regulate carbon dioxide emissions through its international programs.

 

 

But under the Trump administration, the E.P.A will head towards a new, unforeseen direction. For one, E.P.A will be experiencing the largest budget cuts by 31 percent along with health services, housing, diplomacy, and the arts in efforts to increase military spending by billions of dollars. Not only this, the Senate has ultimately given its final confirmation to the new head of the E.P.A, namely the Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt “who has built a career out of suing to block the E.P.A.’s major environmental rules” (N.Y Times).  As a climate change skeptic and a renowned opposer of the E.P.A, Scott Pruitt’s hypocritical vision for the E.P.A is now stirring a great deal of controversy in the United States.

“I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do, and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see,” were the recent words by Pruitt only last Thursday. Holding the support by President Trump, Pruitt aims to reduce regulations over fossil fuel industries, allowing them to “thrive” and “planet-warming emissions to increase.”

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Scott Pruitt stirs controversy (Daily Signal)

Already, It has been noted that for the last six years, Pruitt took part in 14 lawsuits against the E.P.A, while attempting to draft his own climate change rules that run counter to Obama’s major achievement—the Obama Climate Plan. The Obama Climate Plan strives to gradually replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy, aiming to cut 2005 greenhouse gas levels nearly a third by 2030. Upon this, Trump had long expressed desires to repeal the Obama water regulation that prohibits pollution in most rivers, streams, and wetlands, and Pruitt is more than willing to replace them.

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Obama’s Climate Plan (BeyondChron)

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President Obama (Slate)

As much as America holds its global reputation economically and politically, it must maintain responsibility over its industries’ environmental ramifications that affect the world. And while the Obama Climate Plan has endeavored to ameliorate pollution, Pruitt’s inauguration to the E.P.A may pose a major threat in the long term.  It is true industries may prosper momentarily for if Pruitt’s regulations do come in effect, but we must realize global pollution may hit its peak at unprecedented levels.

-Sammie Kim 18′ (Featured image: Valero Doval)

Insight Into Varsity Soccer

A look into the varsity girls and boys soccer tryouts and the upcoming season.

While many lucky couples went on romantic dates on Valentine’s Day, some 60 hopeful high school boys and girls stepped out on the field in sub-zero temperatures to try out for the varsity soccer teams. Anticipation and anxiety were a few of the emotions present amongst the athletes as they trudged along the frozen field. Eventually on Friday, after 4 days of gruelling trials, both coaches dwindled down the players to make two teams of 22. The new teams lack the experience that had been present in previous years. Only 5 or so seniors were present on the boy’s side with a mere one of them, Danny Lee, having played all three years. However, the teams are both aiming to make the season successful. To get a better perspective of what’s going through the minds of some of the players, Blueprint got some exclusive interviews.

Blueprint: With such a young team, how do you think the season will unfold?

Hannah Mac ‘18: I think there are many advantages to having a young team. We have a ton of hard workers and players who are willing to push themselves to become better. This season may be scrappy, but I think we will come through and and have a winning season.

Blueprint: As a veteran player, what is one piece of advice you would want to give to the newcomers of the team?

Juliet Miinalainen ’17: I guess one piece of advice I would give to new players, especially if they’re underclassmen, is to not be afraid. When we’re on the field it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or a senior, because we’re all after the same thing – which is to win by being a great team with good communication between players. So talk, be loud, and always go to the ball. Be aggressive, since it’s better to make a few mistakes along the way than to not try at all.

Blueprint: What is one thing you are looking forward to most with the season and something that concerns you?

Coach Jacobsen: Our team is very young this year, which means we have a ton of room for growth. As a coach, I’m really looking forward to watching our team learn and improve every practice and game. With only have six returning varsity players, our young team is also the thing that most concerns me. The success of our season is completely up in the air, which is both exciting and nerve wracking. The one thing I know for sure is that we have a great group of guys and it’s going to be interesting season!

Blueprint: How do you see the team this year?

John Gee ’18: I think that although we have a young team, there certainly is enough potential for the team to prosper. Our core veteran members such as Danny Lee ’17, Ryan Choi ’18, Kyoon Hwang ’18, and Duke Moon ’19 are taking initiative and leading the team well.

Blueprint: As the captain, what do you believe is the most important thing the team keeps in mind as they approach the season?

Danny Lee ‘17: I believe that, especially since many of the members in the team are new, it is important that we remember to play together as a team. We have fantastic individual players, but that all means nothing in a team sport like soccer, so I think that our understanding of each other and cooperation are what will make us truly successful this year.

Both teams kicked off their season on a positive note as they won their recent games. The boys defeated APIS 1-0 with a stellar goal from Kyoon Hwang ’18 while the girls also won with a score of 6-1. Additionally Phoenix faced a Division One Team – YISS- and came out with amazing results: 6-2 for boys and 6-0 for girls. Come out and support these young teams who have proven that they can be successful throughout their season. Next home game is on Friday March 3rd with girls playing first. See you there!

Written by John Gee

Photo by JD Choi

Fall Dessert Recipes

Explore some diverse flavors of autumn with these easy-to-follow dessert recipes!

Feel the nice little chill in the air?  See the street gradually turning colorful?  Sense an overwhelming feeling of loneliness?  Well, it’s autumn.  And what does that mean?  Time to explore  some diverse flavors of autumn—and with that, Blueprint introduces you to some of the most flavorful yet simple fall dessert recipes.

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

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Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups of flour1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup of softened butter

1 1/2 cup of white sugar

1 cup of canned pumpkin puree

1 egg

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

2 cups of confectioners’ sugar

3 tablespoons of milk

1 tablespoon of melted butter

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

How to:

  1. Heat the oven to 175 degrees celsius beforehand.  Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt.
  2. In a new bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of white sugar and butter.  To this, add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy.  Drop this dough on cookie sheets by tablespoonfuls; make sure to slightly flatten them out.
  3. Put into the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Cool the cookies.
  5. Mix confectioners’ sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon of melted butter, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.  And drizzle this glaze on the cooled cookies with a fork.

 

Apple and Pomegranate Crisp

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Capitol Market

Ingredients:

4 medium apples — peeled, cored and sliced

1/2 pomegranate — skin and light-colored membrane removed

1/2 cup of brown sugar

1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

1/2 cup of rolled oats

1/2 cup of flour

1/2 cup of white sugar

1/2 cup of unsalted, melted butter

 

How to:

  1. Heat the oven to 190 degrees celsius.  Butter a 9 by 13 inch baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, put the apples, pomegranate seeds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Spread them all evenly into the pan.  In the same bowl, stir together the oats, flour and sugar.  Sprinkle them over the top of the fruit.
  3. Bake for 45 minutes in the heated oven until the apples are soft.  Cool for 10 minutes afterwards.

 

Pumpkin Pie S’mores

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Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

16 ginger nut biscuit

8 marshmallow

8 tablespoon of canned pumpkin purée

1/4 tablespoon of cinnamon

 

How to:

  1. Heat the grill and line a baking sheet with parchment.  Put 8 ginger nuts on the tray and top with a marshmallow.  Grill the marshmallow until it is brown and melty.
  2. Mix the pumpkin puree with the cinnamon and put a tablespoon of the mixture on each of the remaining ginger nuts.
  3. Sandwich both together until oozing.

 

 

They say fall is the season of loneliness.  Well, then why not put an end to this unrelenting feeling of loneliness with the sweetest desserts here?

Thailand After the Death of King Bhumibol

A national mourning…and “social sanctioning”.

The world’s longest-reigning monarch has finally breathed his last on Thursday night, October 13th. As a deeply revered figure for his glorious seven-decades rule, the death of King Bhumibol Adulyadej has left Thailand muddled in deep grief and despair.

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A crying woman in the Siriraj Hospital where the king is being treated in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP.)

The “Father of the Nation,” as his people called him, King Bhumibol was widely respected across Thailand for his valuable achievements going beyond his role as a constitutional monarch; he brought national unity in the midst of political turmoil and took active role in rebuilding the economy. In effect, he was “the very model of Buddhist leader” (Bernstein), symbolically standing above the law, parliament, and court.  

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King Bhumibol (IBTimes UK)

During the Cold War period, when Cambodia had already fallen under the Khmer Rouge, Saigon to the North Vietnamese army, and Laos to the communist insurgents, Thailand was the single last domino confronting the communist expansion over Southeast Asia. As the authority of the central government was challenged by a series of communist rebellions, it was King Bhumibol who stood up with his people to counteract the insurgent forces through coups and twenty constitutions.  

Moreover, in order to restore the national economy, King Bhumibol had visited every poverty-stricken area to establish rural development centers and promote infrastructural improvements. Using his royal purse, he distributed aids during crisis, funded clinics, schools, village roads, electricity, and irrigation systems. He even convinced “hill tribes to switch their growing of opium to that of vegetables, fruit, and coffee,” and opium cultivation declined by 85% as a result (Biography).

“He had been a fabric of Thai life for the last 70 years that he has reigned as king. He has been partially lifted up to a god-like status here, because of what he has done for this country,” said Scott Heidler (Aljazeera reporter from the capital Bangkok).

Even U.S President Obama had once described the king a “tireless champion of his country’s development,” further stating, “I had the honour of calling on his majesty the king during my visit to Thailand in 2012, and recall his grace and warmth, as well as his deep affection and compassion for the Thai people” (BBC).  

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President Obama and King Bhumibol (VeryThai)

However, King Bhumibol’s death has also left the nation with the new burden of charting its own path for the uncertain, ambiguous future. Everywhere, thousands of people are dressed in black and white in honor of the King, where it is forbidden to wear any color during the month of mourning. All the websites, newspapers, social media sites, and television shows are stripped of color.

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Thailand in black and white (DailyMail)

But apart from the national lamentation, other social problems have already begun to arise. Entertainment businesses are already at risk due to the sudden suspension of all celebratory behavior from drinking alcohol in public, partying in clubs or bars, to television programs like comedy. Especially in a country where tourism and entertainment industries are key economic contributors, this official abrupt halt is perceived to have repercussions.

On top of the great profit losses, the nation is also faced with the “remarkable mass outpourings of grief from black-clad Thais” (aljazeera). Extreme monarchy forces such as mobs and online crusaders are seeking to punish anyone who is suspected of insulting the monarchy. And even Paiboon Koomchaya, the justice minister, announced, “there is no better way to punish these people than to socially sanction them,” pledging to “pursue those people who violate the law” (aljazeera).

This “social sanctioning” has reached the point where recently, videos have gone viral on social media, showing mobs violently beating up a man, forcing him to apologize for insulting the monarchy as he pleaded out, “I didn’t mean to do it, I love the king! It’s my fault.” Another elderly woman in a Bangkok bus was berated then slapped on the face by a woman dressed in black all in the presence of police.

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Video of a man getting beaten up (The Independent)

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An elderly woman slapped and forced off the Bangkok Bus (Khaodod)

As a nation that has revolved around King Bhumibol for decades, his death is indeed having a far reaching effect. More than just a sorrowful, anticipated tragedy, unexpected backlashes are firing back. It seems the time has finally arrived for Thailand to overcome their challenge in truly manifesting their independence and stand up once again.

– Sammie Kim (’18)

(Featured image from DailyMail)