Creative Japanese Health Products You Must Buy

By now, it is almost an established fact that Japan, our neighbor, produces some of the world’s best candies and jellies. Starting with the famous fruit konyak jellies, I’ve encountered blueberry and sweet potato pockies, green-tea powdered chocolate kit-kats, strawberry sodas, puffy melon breads, ice-cream mochi (rice-cakes), and this list of creative treats will go on forever. And often times, it is quite common to notice KIS teachers and students travel to Japan during their break or AISA sports seasons and return with humongous suitcases loaded with sweets.

But recently, I’ve found another reason to go shopping in Japan— not just for the delicacies, but for the convenient “over-the-counter” health tonics. These aren’t just any simple medications or prescription drugs you get from your doctors when you’re sick; these are useful, safe, and cheap daily life necessities that will assist you anytime and anywhere. Especially for the AP saturated high school juniors to worn out athletes, these five must-buys, highly accessible Japanese health products may one day come to your aid.

1) Eye drops for Computer strain and Contact lenses: Santen, Smile and Rohto

PC: Takasaki


These eye drops will certainly benefit many of our KIS students who spend day and night staring at their MacBook screens and smartphones or even those with dry eyes from wearing contact lenses. Also commonly known as eye refreshers, these eye drops contain  Vitamins A, E, B6, neostigmine methylsulfate, Allantoin and taurin that will relieve eye fatigue, a major cause of vision deterioration. Moreover, they will clear eye inflammation and provide extra protection from ultraviolet rays.

2) Cabajin Kowa alpha

PC: eBay

Cabajin is not just any temporary digestive pill. With its nickname “national gastritis pill,” Cabajin allows for a long term use in maintaining healthy gastric function. Its primary ingredient is the MMSC (Methylmethionine Sulfonium Chloride) found in cabbage juice that improves gastric movement; a total of 150 mg of MMSC contained in five whole cabbages are contained in six small pills, which is the recommended amount to consume each day. It is also worth noting that this particular medication is also widely available for purchase here in Korea as well, so perhaps you might want to try it out!

3) Loxonins

PC: Japan Health

Especially popular for its quickness and efficacy, this headache medicine is made out of ingredients that do not harm the gastrointestinal tract. It is non-steroidal painkiller that is lower in toxicity compared to other headache pills, thus creating less irritation to your stomach.

4) Kobayashi Medi-Shield


PC: Sendaikobayashi

These are waterproof “liquid” bandages, which means all you have to do is apply this thin, clear, odorless coat of this Medi Shield over your wound. Not only will it provide instant waterproof for any cuts, abrasions, scratches, or even burns, this will also clean and disinfect the wound by natural healing by preventing bacteria from entering.

5) Lion Cooling Sheets

PC: eBay

This is for anyone who is suffering from various muscle cramps after standing for long hours with high heels to playing sports. Japanese cooling sheets can also be a beauty product, almost like basic leg masks, providing instant soothing and moisturizing through vaporization of water. Moreover, they come with five aromatic fragrances—lavender, common sage, rosmarinus, lemon, and orange— that you can choose from.

– Sammie Kim 18′

Featured Image: Crescentia Jung (’19)

The Courage to be Vulnerable

What does it mean to be vulnerable in Korean society?

“You are terrible at this. Why are you even here?”

“You are not good enough to do this.”

These are some of the most common comments from our peers that make us feel uncomfortable and self-doubt. As students, we face criticism and shame from people on a daily basis. Consequently, many students attempt to either hide their true selves or ignore the criticism.

Brené Brown, who is a researcher and author, proposes the revolutionary claim that we need to accept our vulnerabilities and imperfections in order to connect with others and live wholeheartedly. In her widely acclaimed novel Daring Greatly and Ted Talk, Brown explains the gifts that come with embracing vulnerability and building shame resilience, such as the three components to a wholehearted life: courage, compassion, and connection.


As the academic competition and expectation in South Korea are consistently high, students are always under pressure to perform well at school. One notable way of measuring the competitiveness is shown in the annually increasing high school student suicide rates. In fact, the Voice of the Youth Organisation reported that suicide is the leading cause of death in Koreans aged 15-24 years old.

As a student who attends an international school in South Korea, I find that the problem with cultivating shame resilience and accepting our imperfections is from the high expectations in academic excellence. For instance, if a Korean student gets less than 95% on an exam, this means that they are inferior to the friend who received a 96%, which leads one to conclude that the latter student will go to a better college than will the former student. Therefore, the former student’s self-esteem will diminish in response to the misconception.




In an image analysis conducted by Yang Liu, easterners tend to be less confident with themselves compared to westerners as depicted in the image below. One reason for this gap between the two ethnicities lies on the idea of how we view our imperfections and faults; westerners tend to accept their mistakes while easterners usually take them more seriously.


This accounts to why I have seen my Korean peers often act artificially in front of teachers in order to maintain their status, just to hide that they are imperfect. These acts no doubt portray how determined and eager students are to work hard to achieve their goal of attending a prestigious university. However, these acts are making the community disconnected, preventing opportunities to build meaningful connections and impacts. If we want to connect and learn from one another, we need to reveal ourselves authentically and vulnerably and believe that we are enough. 


This is not to say that we should all not aim to be as perfect as we can be; rather, it is to advocate that sometimes we need to be vulnerable. If students start to embrace their imperfections, they will begin to understand who they are and what they need to work on. By doing so, we can not only grow as a courageous, compassionate, and connected students but also as changers in our world. So students, start showing yourselves—be vulnerable and proud.

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh (’19)

*Featured Image: Hannah Kim (’19)



Daring Greatly & The Gifts of Imperfections by Brené Brown

You and Corruption

Now, it’s up to you whether this remains as a mere dot or becomes a turning point.

Maybe we are all snowflakes — once floating, flying in the air, in the center of attention. But we all disappear. And no one remembers us.

It’s a belief shared by Rhyu Si-min, former Minister of Health and Welfare, writer, and a student protest leader during the regime of President Chun Doo-hwan. He is the Leonardo da Vinci of South Korean political science, the best friend of President Roh, and an unsung hero who battled the song of corruption. But in his own mind, Rhyu Si-min is none of those. In his mind, he is the same snowflake as “you,” President Park, and President Trump.

“We aren’t born with a purpose,” he says, “we are just born.”

There’s someone worse than Trump. The name is Kim Gi-chun, a notorious villain in South Korean history. You may know him for creating the infamous Blacklist, consisting of athletes and artists who oppose him. But he’s most infamous for creating the martial law, allowing multiple dictators to continue their regimes and stamp on South Koreans’ human rights. And this concentration of power at the top 0.01% of the society would become the platform for the corruption scandal today. Kim Gi-chun, the platform builder, was arrested on 21st by the Independent Counsel of South Korea. He is currently 77 years old — lucky to be alive, for he himself killed so many people. He is “The Devil,” the opposite of Rhyu Si-min.

But at one point, Kim Gi-chun too was a 7-year-old, marveling at the snowflakes with his hands and eyes glued to the window. At one point, President Park and President Trump were cute. So were you, and that person who you hate. A devil is made, not born, because we aren’t born as devils. We are just born.

We are simply born as human beings, who are sad, angry, and lonely. Some of us indulge in those feelings, directing them to specific people. Yet some of us use those feelings as motivation. That includes Rhyu Si-min, whose main motivation was bitterness — bitterness from how the corrupt political scammers manipulated justice to feed off of the South Korean society! Mr. van Moppes — the advisor of National Honor Society and AP Language teacher at H400 — is right that “it’s so easy to be negative,” because negative feelings are the most powerful feelings. Those powerful feelings are what allowed Rhyu Si-min to fight for social justice. And those powerful feelings unified hundreds of thousands of people against President Park.

But the same feelings allowed Kim Gi-chun to unleash what we have been fighting against.

If we can take anything away from the ongoing corruption scandal, it’s that we cannot lose our inner sense of good. We must use negativity, not let negativity use us. We are only free upon achieving that autonomy from hatred.

We are all snowflakes. And until we disappear, our duty is to do something good out of purity, not corruption — especially for the 7-year-olds who are watching us right now.

– Roger Han (’17)

Banner: Celine Yoon (’19)