Busan Teenage Abuse Incident

The recently uncovered Busan teenage abuse incident has not only brought immense fury to society, but also has set a sudden trend in multiple teenage abuse events being exposed in various areas such as Seoul, Gangneung, and Asan. Why?

   Society has been struck with fury from the recently uncovered Busan teenage abuse incident. This issue is the main news flooding the articles and news broadcasts in Korea currently, with the citizens being left in unspeakable horror. Not only is the victim merely a 14-year-old teenager, the ones who assaulted her for over an hour were fellow classmates of the same age.  The girls, who had just only become middle schoolers, were caught smashing soju bottles onto the victim’s head, slamming down chairs, bricks, and pipes upon her body. They hit her continuously until her entire body was found to be completely covered in blood. There had even been over 10 witnesses, yet none of them took action to stop the assault.

Only leaving on undergarments on the victim, they forced her to plead for forgiveness on her knees for “having a disrespectful attitude”. The students continued their cruelty by taking photos of the victim after assaulting her, and sending them to their friends along with flippant comments saying:

“Do you think this is harsh enough…?”

“You think they’ll make me go to jail?”

The victim was in a semi-coma with her mouth and head ripped, the blood vessels inside her eyes pop, and 23 bones broken.

The blood loss was so severe that even with having blood transfusion, her blood pressure continued to drop. And while the victim has suffered through this unimaginable assault, the ones left her that way are unable to be punished by law just for the reason that they are “too young”. The fact that they cannot be punished even after having committed such an extreme, inhumane assault, has filled the citizens with untenable fury.

The victims quickly turned themselves in for this assault, however, during the investigation it was revealed that they had only gone after their friends told them they would be pressed against extreme charges if they didn’t confess now. It was also revealed that because one of the victim’s dad was a police, they were ensured to have the case quietly wrapped-up with no, or mild consequences.

This event alone has brought immense anger into society and yet the outrage is continuing to increase as after the Busan Teenage Abuse has been unveiled, similar teenager abuse cases committed by teenagers are being exposed one by one.

 

In all of a sudden.

 

After the case in Busan, similar teenager assaults by teenagers in Seoul, Gangneung, and Asan have been disclosed. The violence in all of these assaults go to the point where one could absolutely not bear to look at the graphic CCTV footage and what brings this whole case into even more outrage is that the reasons behind all this violence are extremely minor, such as being disrespectful or not giving the money that the perpetrators had demanded for.

The assaults of these teenagers that have been not revealed until now, suddenly being exposed is peculiar in the sense of how the police or news broadcasting sources had just let such extreme violence be shed away from the public until now. Yet, this particular Busan teenage assault set a spark for 3 more consecutive teenage assaults to be uncovered, nearly to the point where it seems that the news is “advertising” this matter in a negative perception. This trend on the issue of teenage assault under the same circumstances being exposed brings a suspicion behind the intentions of revealing this incident, both of the police and the news broadcasting sources. We can only hope that through this Busan teenage abuse incident will imply vital activity of society to raise awareness for such issues like this and prevent further crimes of this kind.

– Sophie Yang (’21)

Featured Image: hindustantimes.com

Park’s Impeachment & Her Legacy

Learn more about Park’s impeachment and its impacts on South Korea’s future.

Former President Park Geun-hye was a lot of firsts; she was the first female president in South Korea, the first female president popularly elected as head of state in East Asia, and the first democratically elected president to be removed from office in Korea. On March 10, 2017, the Korean constitutional court upheld the impeachment that had been approved by the Korean parliament in a unanimous 8–0 decision, terminating Park’s presidency 11 months early.

During her 2012 presidential campaign, she had an approval rating of 45.5% when competing against all potential candidates because she inherited many supporters from her father, Park Chung-hee. He was a Korean military dictator during the Cold War, and he was the icon of the conservative establishment that collaborated with Washington in pressing a hard line against North Korea’s nuclear provocations. Many elderly citizens talked nostalgically of the past when Park Chung-hee had led Korea through rapid economic development (often called the Miracle on the Han River). They felt they have been left out in today’s prosperous South Korea where Confucian family values have largely vanished and the rate of old-age poverty is the highest among OECD countries. Park Geun-hye’s conservative stance on all issues had reminded them of Park Chung-hee, and so she was sworn in in 2013 with high approval ratings.

However, support for Park Geun-hye followed a downward trend throughout her presidential term. It hit a low in April 2014 after the sinking of the Sewol ferry when the Park administration’s failure to act quickly resulted in systemic lapses was blamed for the Sewol ferry tragedy. Even so, Park’s true fall from grace began on October 24, 2016, when JTBC, a Korean broadcasting company, uncovered a tablet computer belonging to Choi Soon-sil. Choi was a friend of Park who held no official position in the government, yet the documents found on the computer suggested that Choi had received confidential presidential documents and edited key speeches that she was not authorized to handle.

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PC: Global Research

Choi Soon-sil is the daughter of Choi Tae-min, a cult leader that became a mentor to Park after her mother (then the First Lady) was assassinated. Since then, Choi Soon-sil was Park’s confidante, but after Park became president, Choi became one of the most powerful people in Korea; she secretly wielded almost unchecked influence, exerting control over Park’s policy direction, the hiring of government officials, Park’s speeches, and even what she wore.

After Park publicly apologized about the scandal, prosecutors began to question Choi and Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung. Although Park had promised to cut the government’s close ties to Korean conglomerates, or chaebols, it had been evident for a while now that she not only failed in this regard, but actually reinforced the corrupt system. Samsung, among other conglomerates, was thought to have been pressured by Choi to transfer millions of dollars to “nonprofit” foundations (Mir Foundation & K-Sports Foundation) controlled by none other than Choi Soon-sil.  

After a series of mass rallies calling for Park’s impeachment and interrogations of the heads of conglomerates, lawmakers voted to impeach Park among charges of corruption on December 9. Power was immediately transferred to Hwang Kyo-ahn, the prime minister. A pro-Park group, Park Sa Mo (which literally means “the people who love Park Geun-hye) that mostly consists of elderly people held counter-rallies, expressing their disapproval of the motion to impeach their beloved president. Meanwhile, Park blocked investigators from entering the Blue House where she had holed up after the National Assembly motion to impeach her. She refused to be questioned and attended none of the 20 hearings at which the court heard evidence against her, but in the end, the constitutional court voted to uphold the impeachment motion. A snap presidential election is to be held within 60 days, and opposition parties have been rallying support for their candidates.

Park’s downfall is expected to shift South Korean politics from the conservative Saenuri party (which is now called the Liberty Korea Party) to the liberal opposition whose leaders want more diplomatic engagement with North Korea and are wary of a major military confrontation against North Korea and China. Of all the candidates running for the position, Moon Jae-in, a liberal Korean politician, is expected by many to be the front-runner.

Democratic United Party Leader Moon Jae In At Party Headquarters
PC: Fortune

However, many consider the impeachment of park to be a victory of Korean democracy because it was change brought about by a politicized youth. This controversy fostered political awareness in generation that had been showing downward trends in voter turnout all around the world. Although millennials are better educated than past generations, more likely to go on a protest or to become vegetarian, and less keen on drugs and alcohol, they lost many of the habits that inclined their parents to vote; they are less likely to watch news on television, read the newspaper or listen to news on radio.

The increasing disparity between the rich and the poor in Korea especially after 1997 Asian currency crisis and the 2008 global financial crisis have led to many young people struggling with precarious working conditions and job insecurity. The mass public demonstrations that ultimately led to Park’s ousting was led by the nation’s youth who have grown increasingly vexed at the corrupt elites who seemed to be above the law. The nation’s youth who were at the forefront of the peaceful protests learned that their actions ultimately could bring about change and even hold to account the most powerful people in the country: Lee Jae-yong and Park Geun-hye.

– Kristin Kim (’20)

Featured Image: CNN

Patio on Fire 2016: Recap

Relive the thrills of Patio on Fire 2016!

On Friday, October 7, 2016, KIS’s traditional Patio on Fire was brought to life once again! This year’s Patio on Fire was the biggest one yet, with more performers and audience members than ever before. Students, teachers, and even alumni all received the chance to enjoy brilliant performances by many of KIS’s musicians, and there were some new faces in the crowd as well. There was also an extreme amount of food and drinks to munch on while listening to all of the singing and rapping that was going on. If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry; here’s a recap of what went on at the Patio both on and off-stage.

Before we get into the performances, let’s take a look at just how much work was put into bringing this event together. Student Council, NHS, and Tri-M all put in hours upon hours of planning and labor to make this year’s Patio on Fire happen. From 3 PM to 9 PM, members from all three clubs converged on the Patio area and tirelessly worked to quickly set up reception and cooking areas, couches, and the technicalities of the stage for performers.

NHS members heaving an icebox, with Tri-M members in red polos and Student Council’s class representatives running here and there were common sights, and because of Tri-M’s Kimchi Fried Rice, Student Council’s dumplings and chicken nuggets, along with NHS’s drinks, there were no worries whatsoever about snacks for the audience and performers alike for the duration of the show!

Once the show got started, everyone forgot about their worries about school and life; students and teachers alike all enjoyed the beautiful music for a couple of care-free and joyful hours. With the beautiful singing of “Chasing Pavements” by Adele from Juliet Miinalainen (’17), accompanied by Grace Kim (’17) and her guitar, Patio on Fire got off to an excellent start. The singing senior pairs Hyung Joo Kim (’17) & Christina Lee (’17) and David Byeon (’17) & Mac Lee (’17) came right after, showing off the senior spirit.

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PC: Various photographers

James Lee (’19) and Susan Cho (’19) followed up with a cute yet memorable performance of “Officially Missing You” by Geeks, reminding the seniors that they weren’t the only ones ready to shine. Mr. Max Fazio and Ms. Hannah Cone then performed two songs as the first teacher performance, and we all loved seeing them together having a good time on stage. Andy Cheigh (’17) then brought back the senior spirit with his explosive performance of “가시 (Thorn)” by 버즈 (Buzz).

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PC: Various photographers
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PC: Various photographers

Then, the collab “Jamsoo” – Sooji Yang (’18) and James Lee (’19) – brought “언제쯤이면” (When Would It Be) by 아이유 (IU) to the table, accompanied by Tiffany Namkoong (’18), Joey Park (’18), Stella Yun (’18), and Drew Lim (’20), followed by Ga Young Lee (’17) with “탈진 (Exhaustion)” by 김영근, accompanied by Christy Yun’s (’17) well-known piano skills. One of Student Council’s finest, Eddie Kim (’17), put together a solo performance of “Rhythm of Love” by Plain White T’s, followed by another senior pair – Mac Lee (’17) and Jake Lee (’17) – performing “죽일놈 (Guy To Kill)” by Dynamic Duo.

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PC: Various photographers
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PC: Various photographers

After a 15-minute intermission (filled with even more hearty food and drinks from Tri-M, NHS, and Student Council, of course), the freshman band Monoswing – Charles Park (’20), Drew Lim (’20), Kyle Son (’20), and Jason Kim (’20) – performed “When Sunny Gets Blue” in a very unexpected yet very catchy funk feel, with Charles Park’s (’20) saxophone leading the charge. Isaac Kim (’19) then dominated the crowd with a full-out rap performance of “신기루 (Illusion)” by 씨잼 (CJamm).

Another pair of KIS Music Entertainment singers, James Lee (’19) and Sara Kim (’18), followed, brilliantly singing “Closer” by The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey. Jake Lee (’17) came back with a performance of “네 생각 (Thought of You) by 존박 (John Park), and Mr. Jack Brown, with his exceptional guitar expertise, gave the second teacher performance of the night. Sooji & The Kids – Sooji Yang (’18), Tiffany Namkoong (’18), Alice Yoo (’18), and Katie Koo (’18) – then performed “I Do Adore” by Mindy Gledhill, followed by the aptly-named Kansas Brothers, Eddie Kim (’17) and Andy Kim (’20). Stacy Jo (’17) and Alice Jo (’19) then gifted the audience with an absolutely beautiful performance of “Lullaby for a Stormy Night” by Vienna Teng.

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PC: Various photographers

Ending this year’s Patio on Fire with a bang was Jooasis – Mr. Jeong Joo, Kevin Han (‘17), Tony Chung (’18), Sei Chang (’18), Matthew Kim (’18), Kevin Lee (’18), Claire Yoon (’18), and Stella Yun (’18) – performing a cover of “Whatever” by Oasis, earning a motherload of Snapchat fame in the process.

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PC: Various photographers

This year’s Patio on Fire was quite a blast, possibly the best yet, and the audience came out with ear-to-ear-reaching smiles, humming the tunes they heard for two hours on a great Friday night. KIS’s tradition of Patio on Fire shows no signs of going away anytime soon, with this much talent still left on the table. We want to give HUGE props to the clubs that both set up and cleaned up the Patio area after the show, and a digital standing ovation to the performers who blew all of our troubles away! Next year’s Patio on Fire just can’t get here quick enough!

– Daniel Park (’17)

Featured Image: JohnDavid Choi (’18)

Lounge with Leona: Hagwons

Sit down, take a chill pill, and relax for this week’s edition of Lounge with Leona; Hagwons.

Waiting for the elevator. The door opens, and teenagers rush out of the no longer sealed box, frantically running towards the nearest convenience store to buy snacks and drinks within the five minute break time. Upon arrival, a sweet looking young woman welcomes everybody, and perhaps offers them tea or coffee. In one classroom, students all face down only to stare at thick packets of endless questions, desperately flipping through the pages to finish before the timer rings.

“Remember, you don’t have to say anything when the same questions you solve today comes out on the test tomorrow.”

In another, a teacher stands in front of the whiteboard, speeding through a semester worth of course material within a mere hour.

“If you don’t feel like you understand the entire concept, just memorize this, this, and this. They always come out on the AP test, so you have to know them.”

In another, a single student with their parents meet with the director, discussing about which colleges they should apply to. The director flips through their calendar, telling the student to take which standardized test and which AP course at exactly what point in their high school career.

“The average accepted SAT score for [insert IVY league school here] is [insert any number between 2200 and 2400]. We recommend you enroll into this SAT program at our hagwon to ensure you finish it in one try. You will come in every day during summer break for 8 hour classes. 6 hours of lectures and 2 hours of solving questions.”

It’s unnerving. It’s frightening to think that this has become our norm; students worshiping hagwons, or cram schools, and feeling as though it’s only right for them to attend one (or more). I guess it’s not that surprising. It has become a norm, after all. Millennials are so obsessed with getting perfect scores, even if that means they have to pay millions of dollars to hagwons for some “extra help”.

According to Yonhap News, a 5 week SAT program (5 days per week from 8:30 A.M. to 12:30 P.M.) offered in a hagwon in Gangnam costed around 2680 dollars (around 2400 dollars for lectures and 280 dollars for materials).  Another hagwon offered a SAT program starting 8:30 A.M. and ending 11:30 P.M. (that’s 13 hours stuck in hagwon, even with lunch and dinner hours subtracted ). This program was offered for 7 weeks, and costed over 5000 dollars [1]. If a student can’t finish the test because of an unsatisfactory test, that’s doubling costs so that they can repeat the whole process of going to hagwon all over again. This is the problem with private education today. 

Clearly, the current education system is not efficient by any means. Nobody wins in the scenarios. Students who come from households wealthy enough to be able to spend thousands of dollars in order to prepare for standardized tests (or anything else, for that matter) end up receiving scores they don’t deserve, perhaps get accepted into schools too high-level for them, where they may fall behind. Parents will be wasting a fortune on their children’s “education”. It could perhaps be said that hagwon teachers “win” if the concept of winning is measured through a materialistic scope, but at what cost? They’re emphasizing the fact that to memorize is to learn, which is obviously false. Moreover, certain teachers who don’t know where to stop even commit crimes by providing students with leaked tests, encouraging them to cheat.

Sure, whether or not a student wants to go to hagwon should only concern what they think as well as their parents. Sure, parents are willing to pay – ultimately speaking, it’s their money anyway. Personally, I think these parents can be broadly categorized into two groups. Those who support and encourage the idea of their children cheating, and those who are terrified into buying part of the entire process. It’s a no-brainer why the former group of parents only worsen the status quo. The situation with the latter group, however, is a bit more different. They are those who are manipulated into fearing their children may not get accepted into college (and by college, I mean either Harvard, Yale, Princeton, or any other ivy league school). Behind them are hagwons that prey on ignorant parents who don’t speak English, for example. Though extremely unethical, parents who are oblivious to the entire process of applying to colleges can’t help but fear. And those parents are exactly the type of people hagwons target for money.

The education “system” is no longer simply a system. It’s an industry. Hagwons are essentially machines that are destroying education, and the parents are byproducts of those machines. This industry is where money gets people into places. In such capitalistic society, money comes from money. Children born into families who are financially stable enough to pour millions into their private education are those who typically get accepted into private universities and find a stable top paying job, only to recreate the entire process again with their children. Name any billionaire you can think of. Elon Musk? Stanford. Mark Zuckerberg? Harvard. Also, throw in the fact that he went to Phillips Exeter Academy. Warren Buffett? Columbia. In our world, especially in an education-centered country like South Korea, high education is pivotal for a successful career and life. And to receive high education, money is a necessity. In essence, this mechanism is only an unfair and vicious cycle controlled by the movement of money.

Of course, in an ideal world, there would be no private education. Rather, there would be no need for private education, unless it’s for special interests purposes. For example, if a student wants to learn public speaking skills or how to play the ukulele, by all means, they should find professionals to teach them; most likely at a hagwon specialized for the purpose. However, this is different when it comes to academia. Schools are supposed to be a place in which students, as long as they pay attention in class and do the assigned work, receive high grades. Such proper practices of studying should guarantee high grades for students, which they so desperately yearn for. However, because the idea of “no hagwon means failure” is deeply rooted within not only the minds of students but also parents, they assume it’s natural for students to attend hagwon for hours on top of regular school.

You don’t need hagwons for success in your academic career. You absolutely don’t need hagwons to replace schools with. If students feel as though they’re falling behind, extra studying may perhaps be encouraged. Moreover, things that aren’t taught in school such as measures on tackling the SATs or SAT IIs can also be a reason behind attending hagwons. However, the moment a student begins to rely solely on hagwons is when problems arise. This rewards people who prioritize profit more than actual education. There are countless accounts of students who fall asleep in class or simply not pay attention to the lectures because they know they have a backup plan; catching up at hagwon. And most of the time, those hagwons only push the idea of memorization (if you’re willing to argue, tell me you haven’t seen all the kids forcing SAT vocab definitions into their brains without even knowing how to use them in sentences, or worse, pronounce them). This lack of pressure at school only allows them to slack off even more, hence the higher demand for hagwons. Like I said before, it’s an endless cycle. The answer to “I’m failing this class” should not be “Mom, can you get me a tutor.” It should be, “I should clarify confusing parts with my teachers.” Teachers are here to answer the students’ questions. It’s their job.

Now if the hagwons are for cheating purposes, it’s a completely different story. Cheating will get you nowhere. It’s true that certain questions from the SATs and SAT IIs are recycled. Certain AP class teachers at school may reuse old AP questions for their test questions. For both cases, certain hagwons have the capability to provide students with those questions. And both of those cases are illegal. Sure, it may be the easy way out. It’s indeed pressuring to not cheat on those pesky tests when virtually everybody around you receive those packets. And what if you don’t get the scores you truly deserve (in terms of your intelligence) because you’re not a good test-taker? Whether standardized tests truly measure one’s capabilities can be written about in an entirely different article. My point is, if it’s just to get into a brand name school, don’t. It’s not worth it. The education system is corrupt, and Collegeboard should be well aware of that. But hagwons that take advantage of this fact, as well as of students who fear of getting accepted into decent colleges, perhaps is the mastermind behind the entirety of this hypocrisy.

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)

Featured Image: Hannah Kim (’19)

[1] http://www.yonhapnews.co.kr/society/2011/06/25/0701000000AKR20110625061200004.HTML

What’s up, Sophomore? Issue No. 1

The “What’s Up?”series are back to introduce you to the new students of Class of ’19.

Students of the class of ‘19 are now in 10th grade, leaving the naivety of 9th grade behind and facing new challenges. With many joys and pitfalls awaiting them, the new sophomores are still struggling to believe they will never see freshman year again—and that junior year is creeping up.

Of course, just like any other year, they were met with an influx of new students. But the process of these new students becoming well-assimilated into the tight network of familiar faces can be a long and tough journey. For this first issue of the year, What’s Up, Sophomores? has interviewed four new students to introduce them to our readers and get an insight into what their first month or so at KIS has been like.

Woohee Kwak:

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Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

This sweet girl has a bubbly spirit you’d spot from all the way across the room! Woohee moved from San Francisco, California, and joined the KIS class of 2019 at the start of this year. She is a member of Freshlight and KIS Med, and is glad to have found a place at these clubs. Read her full interview for more about how she is finding her transition to be:

How has your transition to KIS been?

I think the transition was okay. I got lost on the first day. Everyone seems nice. I don’t know that many people yet.

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?

Since the campus is huge, it was hard for me to memorize where all the classrooms are.

What is your goal for this year?

Goals for this year are that I want to make more friends.

What has been a memorable moment so far?

When we went on the EE Trip, I got to know more people in my advisory by going through the maze with them.

What are you most looking forwards the rest of the school year?

I’m looking toward to change clubs for spring because I want to experience other club activities.

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 1 being the best)

7.5

Describe your KIS experience in one word

Tired.

Laura Jang:

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Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

Laura may be on the quiet side, but has a personality definitely worth getting to know. She lived in San Diego for about 3 and a half years, and then went on to attend a Korean public school for about 4 years. Such was her journey; and now she is a student at KIS! She is in Spirit Club and AWOO dolls, and appreciates the enjoyable and welcoming atmosphere that she has felt there. Read on about her new life at KIS:

How has the transition to KIS been?

To be honest, it wasn’t that easy for me to transfer from a Korean public school to an American curriculum based international school. It took me awhile for me to get used to the new education/grading system. Making new friends was also a little tough for me at first. Yes, I’m shy, so it might take awhile to get to know each other and but being shy doesn’t mean I don’t like getting along with people and be alone. I’m always open and would love to make new friends!!

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?

Getting used to the different school system and making new friends.

What is your goal for this year?

Try my best at all times.  Be nice, positive, and happy. Have fun!

What are you most looking forward to?
I just got in the backstage for the fall play, “The Matchmaker” and I’m really excited to work with new friends.

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best)
9

Sara Yoo:

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Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

Walk down the hallways and you will see this bright student with a warm smile. Sara moved from Alberta, Canada and joined KIS in the last minute, as she was one of the few students that got the spots. She is now a part of Freshlight, Key club, and AWOO dolls which she relish. Read on to find out how Sara’s KIS experience is going so far!

What activities/clubs have you joined this year? Are you enjoying them?

I joined Freshlight, Keyclub, and AWOO dolls, and I am enjoying all of them so far.

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?

Most challenging task was to get used to the new environment, and to memorize the school map ( i got lost a several times haha)

What is your goal for this year?

My goal is to finish this year off with good grades and good friends.

What has been a memorable moment so far?

Most memorable moment was the EE trip, not only I got to meet lots of new people, but also got to experience various activities which were quite interesting

What are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to all the events the school will be holding!

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 10 being the best)

I’ll rate 8

Describe your KIS experience in one word

One word… discovery??

Yejean Kim:

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Photograph: Clare Na Hyun Kwon (’18)

A cheerful and jubilant student, Yejean is from Hanyoung Foreign Language High School. She has joined eclectic range of clubs, including Poker and Probability, Debate club, and Math Competition, which she finds true value in. This ecstatic student radiates joy to others and brightens up others even when there is an overload of assessments; she will for sure make you smile.

How has the transition to KIS been?
It is wonderful!! Actually, I was kinda worried about not being able to make any friends here, but kids here are all friendly and I had no troubles at all to adjust myself to KIS life!!!

What has been the most challenging task for you so far?
The most challenging task for me is to keep up all the schoolwork. In my previous school, we didn’t have quizzes or homework every day, but here, there are quizzes and homework every day!!! It’s hard.

What is your goal for this year?
My goal… is to figure out strategies for getting good grades. And also to enjoy my life.

What has been a memorable moment so far?
Every moment is memorable for me.

What are you most looking forwards the rest of the school year?

I am looking forward to every events. They look fun. I like the fact that KIS has a lot of events.

Rate your KIS experience from 1-10 (one being the worst, 1- being the best)
9.5

Describe your KIS experience in one word
Fun

Adapting to a new school, or even a new country for some, can be challenging. However, as shown in the interviews, it seems that the students are adjusting to KIS well even after just over a month at school. As these new students gradually become even more integrated into KIS, they will no longer be called “new”: they will simply be students, a part of the family.

All the best of luck to the new students as they continue on their sophomore year with other former students!

*Will Class of ‘19 sophomore year become suffermore year? Find out about it only on the following “What’s up, Sophomore?” articles!

—Sarah Se-Jung Oh &  Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)

* Banner: Crescentia Jung (’19)

Changes to the Library

If you happen to walk along the glass-walled corridor beside the library in between the Middle school and High school, you may be in for a surprise. As students peer in, they see the once overly vibrant and jam-packed library now nearly empty, and they wonder what could have possibly happened over summer break.

The changes themselves may not be clear, so here is a brief recap. This semester, 4 study zones were implemented in the library. Zone A and B are designed to be used for quiet studying or reading, Zone C is to be used for classroom learning, and Zone D is to be used for printing and/or display of current news. Zone C, the previously most used space in the library, is now off limits to students that are not part of a scheduled classroom visit.

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One of the other changes that has been implemented is the card-checking system. During lunch hours, students are required to have their student ID card with them in order to enter the library. After depositing the card at the front door, students can attain their ID cards again only when they leave the library. If students don’t have an ID card with them though, then they cannot enter the library during lunch hours.

The new policy changes in the library have become a highly divisive topic among the student populace. From a poll that surveyed 40 high school students, 32.4% of students said that they thought highly of the new designated study zones, while 21.6% of students said that they highly disagreed with the new regimented space. An issue of further contention was the new card-checking system at lunch time, as 59.4% thought it had considerably declined the quality of the library.

“The library used to be a good place to work but now the librarians have limited the space that we could work in such as the tables located in the middle of the library. This just makes the given study zone crowded making it louder and harder to concentrate.” — Anonymous

“I think [the library] improved, because the changes in the environment has made it more approachable – I’m a freshman, and my friends and I go there every autonomous block to study.”  — Anonymous

“In some aspects [the library improved]. However, I think the ID card checking took it a step too far. I don’t feel welcome at the library. I would rather spend my time in the Learning Lounge or just any other place that is not the library.” — Anonymous

In order to better understand why the new changes were implemented, I sat down with Ms Green, the KIS librarian, to talk about the school’s motives for the changes. Whenever I asked her about why the policies and facilities in the library had changed, Ms Green had one consistent theme to her responses: to better serve the students. Students in the past had come to the library in order to study, but when they came, they were often barraged by loud noises and distractions. The library became like any other studying environment in the school. In order to let students get the best out of their library usage time, Ms Green said that she wanted to filter out the purpose of the library. That means using the library for one of 4 reasons: getting help from a librarian, accessing library resources, quiet studying, and printing. If the library is not used for those purposes, then it no longer maintains the qualities that make up and define a library. Thus, it seems like collaborative work spaces in the library will no longer be condoned.

When I asked Ms Green about whether the policy changes had improved the quality of the library, she responded with a resounding “yes”. She said that although the physical number of students using the library had decreased, the proper usage of the library had increased. One evidence for this was the increased number of book check outs compared to previous semesters. By filtering the purpose of the library, more students at KIS will be able to get more out of their library experience.

One of the problems that the library has yet to truly tackle is the accessibility of the library, as well as public opinion on library usage. When I asked Ms Green about the new seating arrangements, she reassured me that no seats had been taken away, and that the library had placed the same number of seats in Zone A that had been in Zone C. However, despite this reassurance, library usages have decreased, and systems like card-checking during lunch hours have been implemented. Of course, the card-checking system is only in place during lunch hours; autonomous blocks, as well as before and after school hours do not use the card-checking system. But it goes beyond leniency with card-checking. Many students feel that it is the message that the library sends which is the problem. By implementing stricter rules, students feel that they are not welcome at the library, and they don’t wish to be subject to constant overseeing while they work.

Ultimately, it is a problem that students and the library have to find mutual ground on. Many students admitted that the library had become too loud, with one anonymous survey respondent writing “the library is usually in a similar level of noise to the cafeteria”. However, the library should also be aware of the actual number of students using the library, and should accordingly make changes in order to not only cater to the purpose of a library, but also to the students’ desires to use it as well, thus letting it actually do the service it was meant to do.

Featured Image & Photos by Ye Chan Song

24 Hour Race: Event, Purpose, and BTS

Seen this event on Facebook lately? Catch up on the latest news about the 24 Hour Race, from the event itself to the behind the scenes, only on Blueprint.

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PC: 24 Hour Race

#Slaverystillexists. What do you think of when you look at this hashtag? You may have already seen it going around, especially on Facebook. This hashtag has been used by the 24 Hour Race team to promote an upcoming race to be held in Seoul. The 24 Hour Race, though competitive and energy-consuming, is the platform in which many of our fellow KISians as well as students from other international schools have chosen to call attention upon an ongoing issue: modern slavery.

An estimated 45 million people are working even at this very moment as slaves, and approximately 26% of those who are enslaved are minors. What’s even more shocking is that slaves exist even in South Korea, with a recorded number of 93,700. Children who are as young as us – or even younger, presumingly – are involved in detrimental, ongoing dilemmas such as human trafficking and sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is the most common type of human trafficking, which is when human beings are traded for the purpose of forced labor, commercial sexual exploitation, or sexual slavery, in this case. The world we live in is developing every single day, but such inhumane problems only hinder our society from becoming that which is fair and civil.

This is where the 24 Hour Race comes in. The event will take place from September 12th to the 13th, at Cheonggye Plaza. Participating students will run in teams of 8 in order to raise awareness of modern-day slavery. The race is one which will test the runners’ endurance, where they will be able to experience the pain that children as young as them may be encountering due to illegal human trafficking. Because the team members take turns while running this race, runners standing by will be able to watch various performances (hint: KIS’s very own Blackout will be dancing on stage!) as well as enjoy food served by Lagniappe.

Now we know all about what’s going to happen on the day of the race, and it’s phenomenal. But what’s more amazing is how the race came to life. The 24 Hour Race is an all students organized event, with numerous international schools collaborating – as mentioned before. To dig deep into the efforts made backstage, Blueprint reached out to Logistics Director, Grace Kim (‘17).

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PC: Joey Park (’18)

BP: What is your job within the 24 Hour Race team?

G: Basically, I’m the events and logistics director. This means that I get the venue, I get the stage, and I get the entertainment. Basically, whatever happens that day is up to me. This is both intimidating but extra exciting at the same time, because with my efforts, I can make this race something no one has ever seen before. I also have my team, or my crew, to work with, and we all work together to make the whole thing possible.

 

BP: Why did you decide to join the 24 Hour Race team?

G: I’ve been on the KIS cross country team for three years, and it’s my fourth and last year this year. Because I’ve already been so involved in running, I thought the race would be a nice addition to what I do because they’re relatable with a common theme. I also thought this would be a really cool and unique volunteer experience because I hadn’t heard of anything like it before.

 

BP: What did you learn through being a part of the 24 Hour Race team, and how have you grown?

G: I learned that there are difficulties when it comes to working with others. It’s hard to grab someone’s attention and really get them to work. I think it comes from timely laziness, and I’ve also been affected by it too. And also, this is such a big-scale event, that it’s extra difficult for only students to be organizing everything. But I want everybody to know that it’s still possible, because look at where we are now! I gained so many skills like communication skills, and I learned to be more demanding, and to practice leadership skills. I think I’ve grown to become a person who can take action.  

You’ve seen it all! All the way from what will be happening on the day of the 24 Hour Race, to the behind the scenes that made this race possible. The 24 Hour Race is still looking for individuals who are willing to join this incredible movement, either as a participant or a volunteer. You, yes you, can sign up as a team leader here, or volunteer to help run the race here. There’s also time before the race hits the maximum of 20 teams, so gather friends and join in on this campaign. It may be a small step you’re taking, but as a whole, it will culminate into becoming one large step towards a slavery-free world.

– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image: 24 Hour Race

 

Sophomore E.E Trip: Debrief Sesh

Leaving behind the freshmen, juniors, and seniors, the sophomores enjoyed a 3 day E.E trip. Worth it or not? See what they have to say.

In the midst of a very busy month of April, the entire sophomore grade took on a three-day experiential educational trip to Boramwon. Having returned from the trip, the students definitely came to appreciate the considerable effort put in by teachers and the students who organized the event. The trip yielded an unforgettable, valuable experience that enhanced us one step further. But at the same time, the trip also stirred mixed reactions – both positive and negative – among the sophomores.

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After a long two-hour bus ride, students arrived at a large camping park with a well-developed facility provided with a wide soccer field, basketball area, gym, hills for mountain biking, and of course, the green nature and weather complied throughout the days. Various rigorous activities to challenge and engage the students’ physical stamina and teamwork were scheduled right from the first day. Based on advisory, students were all divided among three big groups each supervised by the expert Boramwon guides. And in order to help communication between the KIS teachers and the guides, it was quite common to see students translate Korean and English back and forth.

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The major physical activities introduced included archery, mountain biking, hiking, and rafting. During the archery session, several students surprised the teachers by matching the red circle in the middle for points, and later on, they even constructed a huge archery target board by taking turns sawing wood and hammering the nail. After archery, students moved on to mountain biking, which required apt strength and coordination, as it was indeed a level harder than normal biking. Divided by levels of beginner, intermediate, and hard, students were given the opportunity to choose courses or challenge themselves by riding uphill or on the rocky, dusty hills.

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However, four hours of hiking on the nearest mountain of Boramwon surprisingly raised the most mixed reactions among students. According to students who took on hiking first, this particular course proved to be fairly dangerous with frequents cliffs that had to be climbed up with a rope, and slippery rocks and leaves, with rocky crevices of boulders in which students had to go through. As a result, accidents were recurrent, though usually minor such as cuts and bruises; however, there was also one unfortunate, major accident in which the KIS high school nurse severely injured her ankle after slipping. She had to be assisted by the emergency crew and return home in the middle of the trip. Still, by encouraging each other and giving out helping hands at difficult paths, the majority were able to witness the unique Elephant rocks and the lovely scenery the peak offered.

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One sophomore thought, “It was the first time our grade got together this year to do the something together, so I thought it really helped in building new friendships! But I would’ve really appreciated more breaks during the hike.” (Anonymous ‘18)

“Although throughout the E.E trip we went through many difficult courses, we were able to achieve them by helping one another. I learned through this trip that teamwork plays a very important role in our everyday lives. I hope we can have another great trip next year!” – Diana Koo (‘18)

As for rafting, though it was an entertaining experience, it seemed that for students who were planned to go early morning suffered mostly from the shocking cold water and the chilly wind, as one expressed, “I actually had a great experience in the E.E trip. Honestly they could have given us more free time for ourselves and a bit more time before lights out. Also, the water was too cold during rafting so I was thinking that we should’ve went a bit later in the summer. But overall, the trip was fun” (Jin Kwon ‘18).

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Yet through exciting games like races, catching for the ball, as well as just splashing water at each other, students learned how to work together to pilot the boats around.

“The E.E trip was planned perfectly, with barely any activities where it wasn’t fun. However, the food made me want to miss JJ’s cooking” – Noah Kim (‘18).

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After all the hard, exhausting activities during the day, recreation and amusing games were arranged at night. Star-gazing through Mr. Hopkin’s telescopes, students got to observe the detailed surface of the moon, along with jupiter and the constellations such as the Big Dipper. There were also mazes for thrilling games, and Nanta sessions where students used recycled materials as drumming instruments to make exciting rhythm and harmony. 20160412_192447

Not only did the trip provide various team-bonding activities, but also mini-advisory sessions that took place each day garnered many positive feedbacks. It was a time in which students got to share their personal opinions, feelings, and reflect upon what they learned, disliked, or even how they overcame challenges and broke through certain walls.

“I think the E.E. Trip was a great opportunity for advisories to bond and I really enjoyed it. I got to know the people in my advisory much better than before by participating in various activities. I would like to go on a similar trip again, but would rather go in the beginning of the year without  the worry of APs” – Samantha Kim (‘18).

“It was a great advisory bonding experience and a great way to meet new people. I would definitely go again” – Sara Kim (‘18).

For once, the sophomores and teachers were able to detach their minds off of work, studying, hagwons, tests, and electronics, and instead take the time to look at nature and experience what normally wouldn’t have been possible back in the hectic city. It is true that in the beginning, there were various complaints revolving the E.E trip, especially upon the decision to make roommates random and how the dates of the trip clashed with preparation for the AP exams to be taken in May. However, even throughout the trip with injuries and accidents, sharing the same room with awkward people, and perhaps with not the best cafeteria food, it seems as though the E.E trip did bring something special to many sophomore students.

– Sammie Kim (’18)

EcoGeo Field Trip: Learning Outside

See what the freshmen did during their annual Eco-Geo Trip this year!

On the 18th and the 19th of April, geometry students embarked on a journey to Yuldong Park: the EcoGeo challenge! The EcoGeo challenge is an annual trip that geometry teachers arrange to let students solve more challenging real-world problems. All geometry students are divided into several groups to solve trigonometry application questions. Given a limited amount of time for each question and a few tools, students are required to make full use of their knowledge in order to solve the real-world problems.

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Many say that the trip allowed them to gain necessary skills and knowledge. 83% of the students Blueprint interviewed claimed that the trip was worth going to because it was a unique experience that high schoolers don’t often get. Crescentia Jung, a student who participated in the trip, maintained that she liked the EcoGeo challenge since it gave them “some freedom in terms of not having to just listen to the teacher” and allowed them to “ do an activity outside”. As high schoolers, it is often difficult to incorporate both education and outdoor activities because of time and availability. We see typical KIS students sitting down on chairs and working on desks incessantly whilst gaining knowledge just by hearing and solving. The EcoGeo trip, however, enabled them to learn multiple skills in an environment that involves not just listening, but also discovering through hand-on activities.

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Students were also able to gain further knowledge about trigonometry. Leanne Kim claimed that she liked learning “different methods to find angles and lengths” and practicing teamwork skills. The challenges tested on the student’s ability to use specific tools to find measurements using different methods. They were to employ various methods such as lying down on the grass and tapping points on the ground. Using these methods required teamwork skills which is an important skill that math classes don’t often use since math is often an independently working subject.

Although students were able to gain some valuable skills and knowledge, there were some critical issues with the trip as well. After asking several students what they did not enjoy about the trip and what could be improved, we found three main issues. First, many students felt that the point system was a problem, because its basis was extensively on accuracy. Jessica Kwon stated that she didn’t like “how you had to be accurate on everything to get full points” because it was difficult for them to figure out the exact, precise answer for each question in a limited amount of time. Also, the students felt that there was a lack of time for each question and the write-up as well. Kelley Shim informed us that if she was given more time to solve the questions and less time to eat lunch, then her group could have had finished all of the questions completely. She added that 30 minutes was not enough for her group to complete the write-up, which would have been easily completed if they were given time to finish it in class.

 

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Several students pointed out that having unlimited chances to correct their answers inhibited their learning process. Emma Kang thought that she “didn’t gain anything from the questions that she got wrong since she didn’t care about finding the correct answers in the end.” As students became more and more tired throughout the day, they would stop trying to figure out the correct answer and give up after their first try. Implementing a stricter rule such as giving the students a limited number of chances may be beneficial.

“The Geometry field trip was successful! Students were able to apply their knowledge, work as a team, and think critically to solve each challenge. Students worked hard to solve and even those who didn’t solve the challenge gave a great effort. The day went as planned and we were able to enjoy the good weather while we solved!” – Ms.Quade, geometry teacher

This trip for many students was an opportunity for not only extended learning, but definitely some fun in the outdoors. As the first trip this year for the freshmen to experience the outdoors, many students enjoyed getting out of the classrooms and actively engaging with their teammates to solve the challenges. There were some issues that could have been fixed to improve the experience, but overall, the students enjoyed their time outside in another place rather than in the classroom. Perhaps more of such kinds of field trips would add some fun to a somewhat dull third quarter!

—Sarah Se Jung Oh (’19) and Ariel Hyunseo Kim (’19)

AP Environmental Science: Partnership with K-Water

Why K-Water? Well, why not? Read more about an exclusive interview BP had with Mr. Taylor!

AP Environmental Science is an AP course which will be implemented into the KIS High school curriculum starting next year. Students will be challenged to learn both inside and outside of the classroom, and extend their learnings to solve real-world problems. Mr. Taylor, the AP Envi Sci teacher has poured countless hours into designing the perfect AP Envi Sci curriculum for us students, which consists of a total of eight units. There is no doubt the class will be both enjoyable, as well as educational.

However, KIS decided to take this new AP course a step further, by proposing a joint partnership between our school and K-Water, the South Korean governmental agency for comprehensive water resource development and providing both public and industrial water in the country. Just last month, current Environmental Science students Willy Yun (‘16) and Leona Maruyama (‘17) visited the K-Water HQ located in Taejeon alongside with Ms. Quirin, Mr. O’Connor, and of course, Mr. Taylor. There, further discussions about the partnership was made, and reassurance as to how exactly the partnership would work. Furthermore, they took a tour around the various facilities owned by K-Water, such as their water reservoirs, dams, and educational centers.

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“Leona and Willy – K-Water” (Mr. Taylor)

Amongst the eight units prepared for the AP Envi Sci curriculum, the Land and Water Use unit and Energy Resources, Transformations, and Consumption unit can further be enhanced with K-Water’s resources and facilities. Students will be able to take field trips to K-Water’s facilities, thus allowing them to experience environmental science and engineering hands on, rather than simply through a textbook.

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“With Mr. Cho – K-Water” (Mr. Taylor)

But how exactly would a partnership with K-Water change the students’ learning experience? No need to linger on, waiting for an answer. Blueprint has got you covered. We were able to schedule an exclusive interview with Mr. Taylor on his views, perspective, and plans for the future of AP Envi Sci.

BP: Why K-Water?

Mr. T: This has been a relationship we (KIS) has been working on for a year or two now.  It started with the man who drove us to and from K-water that day – he runs most of our EE – and through him and Justin O’Connor (the Seoul Campus principal who was with us) they came up with a couple of field trips that K-Water sponsored to take elementary students through waste-water treatment plants and drinking water plants. I think that’s been it so far. Then K-water offered to take twelve to eighteen kids on a water sampling excursion in one of their reservoirs, and KIS could not get enough people interested. That’s when Michelle piped in and said there’s a new guy at the high school (me) that might be interested, esp. with the new AP offering.  Anyway –  you do not need all these details, but that’s how this chance with K-water came up to the high school.

BP: How do outdoor activities benefit students?  

Mr. T: It gets them out of the classroom – where the real stuff is!!!  Projects and problem solving within the environmental context have to take place outside, if possible. Almost any career in Environmental Sciences and Engineering will have something to do with the outside, so getting kids out there in the real dirt and water and air is essential to making the learning relevant. Right? Schools and employers want hands-on problem solvers. So outside is where you learn how to collect real data and interpret what they’re saying.

With the help of K-Water, students will gain access to the resources that we wouldn’t have had our hands on, had it not been for the partnership. Students can expect to go on weekend field experiences, visits to the watersheds and reservoirs managed by K-Water, and even trips to learn field sampling methods and analytical techniques. The possibilities are endless; we hope to see great things happen, and experiences beyond our expectations. 

– Leona Maruyama (‘17)