China’s Coronavirus Outbreak

Here’s an overview of China’s Coronavirus

Currently, leaving not only the city of Wuhan infected, but also other international cities vulnerable, China’s coronavirus is continuing to spread unabated. Patient zero appeared on December 31st last year, and the SARS-related respiratory disease quickly grew at an alarming rate. Today, this virus reached a shocking number of  42,000 confirmed infections over 28 countries. Most of the stores and businesses in China are closed, and other Asian countries closed down major department stores and places that usually hold a high population. In such, the Coronavirus became a global health concern all around the world. 

After the virus contaminated a handful of people in Wuhan, scientists and the World Health Organization were quick to identify the disease and its origin. Researchers found out that bats were New Coronavirus’ reservoir host. Although scientists are not sure how it was transmitted, they predict that it either transmitted to other animals, eventually leading up to us, or was sold in illegal black markets (as China consists of a lot of black markets for animals). 

Although scientists and the WHO were able to recognize the vaccine, the Chinese government denied proposing an action to prevent the disease from mushrooming to other countries. Due to its rapid outbreak, there were only a few ways in which the government could respond (they could only use thermometers and workers to look for potential patients). In such, people from Wuhan and other cities that had Coronavirus patients immediately took refuge in nearby countries, positioning South Asia and East Asia in danger. People were readily able to leave as it was difficult to differentiate the new Coronavirus to a regular cold. In social media, there were constant stories of how patients escaped Wuhan by taking fever-reducer drugs, indicating how easily people could get away from the government’s eye.

Currently, the control of the disease is still in the process as more confirmed patients are found all over the world. Although the world has a better grasp of what Coronavirus really is and ways to prevent it, it is still difficult due to its subtle symptoms and contagious characteristic, making everyone paranoid. To make matters worse, there has been racism against Asians from Caucasians that discriminate Chinese. People were trying to find a scapegoat for this crisis as their lives were put into danger. Korean social media is also quick to criticize foreigners from China. In addition to social issues, there have been political conflicts; for instance, many younger generations are criticizing President Moon for opening doors to Chinese tourists despite the virus. This phenomenon is happening to other countries as political parties clashed in these types of problems. Coronavirus is bringing political, social, and economic problems to our society. 

Many experts compare this crisis to that of MERS and SARS. Although this virus is less lethal than those two, its rate of contagion is much higher. The only way to keep ourselves safe is to wash our hands and wear masks. Stay safe!

Featured Image Source: Al Jazeera

-Mark Park (’20)-

The Conscience of a Conserbyetive

Trumpublicanism has become an overwhelmingly popular political principle of the conservative America. The Republican Party is moving to where Trump, along with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, awaits hand in hand with candidates like Judge Roy Moore. We bid adieu to the bygone era of Goldwater conservatism that galvanized the nation in the late 20th century.

A Tempered Harpoon is a column on American Politics written by the ’18-’19 Editor in Chief, Chris Park (’19). – Ed.

Former senator from Arizona and failed 1964 Presidential election Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater noted in his 1960 book, The Conscience of a Conservative, that “conservatism looks upon the enhancement of man’s spiritual nature as the primary concern of political philosophy [while] liberals regard the satisfaction of economic wants as the dominant mission of society.” This was the winning principle of the man who set the stage for the rise of Ronald Reagan—and conservatism—in the United States.

Goldwater promoted free trade, envisioning “a day when all the Americas, North and South, will be linked….in a rising tide of prosperity and interdependence” in his 1964 acceptance speech. His political successor, Ronald Reagan alluded America as “a city on a hill,” with an adamant conviction that the American value of individual freedom should be a model of the world.

The Republican party of present-day looks vastly different. President Trump touts economic protectionism with his “America first” agenda, severing the United States from various trade agreements. During the campaign, he called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” eventually delivering on that promise with Executive Order 13769, letting the sacrosanct American principle of religious freedom to wither. The Grand Old Party was never like this—not under Bush, not under McCain, not under Romney, and certainly not under Goldwater or Reagan.

Picture a politician.

He yearns for power, fights to get it, and–for better or worse–never loosens his tight grip on it. Thus it is peculiar when he does relinquish the seat for which he so arduously labored. Especially if he is a Senator from a state where a presidential candidate of his party won bigly just over a year ago.

But with the Trump takeover, many Congressional Republicans are faced with a predicament: get on the Trump Train or go home. A recent CNN-SSRS poll showing Republican support for Trump at 86% further perpetuates this reality.

Two Republican Senators, Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ), decided to take the latter route, announcing their retirement from the Senate at the end of their terms in 2019. Trumpublicanism has become an overwhelmingly popular political principle of the conservative America.

True, there are vast differences between the politics of Corker and that of Flake. Corker was an ardent supporter of Candidate Trump throughout his 2016 campaign and was on a short-list to becoming his Secretary of State, while Flake wrote a 160-page book decrying Candidate Trump. DW-NOMINATE, a comprehensive system of measuring political ideologies based on voting records, ranks Flake as the third most conservative member of the Senate while Corker is somewhat of a moderate.

Voting records aside, however, they do have one thing in common: fundamental disagreements with the policy direction of President Trump. Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, condemned the President’s approach to handling conflict with North Korea, suggesting that he is leading the United States into a World War III. Flake bemoaned the moral decay of the Republican Party in its silence while “norms and values that keep America strong are [being] undermined” and maintained his stance on free trade and immigration, both of which greatly parts from the Trumpublican agenda.

What does the future hold for the GOP? Only time can tell. The Republican Party is moving to where Trump, along with Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller, awaits hand in hand with candidates like Judge Roy Moore—is he the future of the party? Perhaps. But one thing is clear: the Senators’ decisions act as a clear testament to the transformation of the GOP today. We bid adieu to the bygone era of Goldwater conservatism that galvanized the nation in the late 20th century.

–  Chris Hyunsoo Park (’19)

Featured image: Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite

What would you murder for?

“…is it fast life, money, and clothes?”

It’s a line from a song, “Señorita” by Vince Staples, a 23-year-old rapper from Long Beach, California. He’s perhaps the “realist” gangster in the public world, having been through gang violence and drug trades, both as a perpetrator and a victim. Yet, he’s also one of the least pretentious rappers. He cares little about money or fame; all he wants to do through rap is to reveal gang life as it is – no glorification.1

In a symbolic sense, Vince Staples represents the polar opposite of today’s society, a society that is riddled with superficiality and “fakeness.”


As students of an international school, we like to think that we know more about the world than other “average” students of our age. But in truth, we understand little about this world and the people in it. We think of ourselves as special and superior, when in reality, we are just fortunate, blessed, and spoiled. We understand little about how it feels to be oppressed and to fear everyday. Most of our sadness and frustration come from first world problems. As much as we hate to admit it, self-sympathizing makes us feel better. We are happy people, drugged with money. And we are no different from the former President “Princess” Park.

And so we are fake. We don’t have to be real because we have no real issues to worry about. We worried about Trump only when he was an issue. The same goes for South Korea’s corruption scandal – we think of it as a one-time issue, but it’s still the main topic of discussion in news today and amongst the real, “average” people whose lives are directly affected by little changes in politics. We live inside the fake capsule of money while others have nothing to protect them. Their lives are dependent; hence, they are not free.

It’s disheartening that ones with power sometimes don’t understand the ones without power. There’s little that can be done about it. Such is the case with the United States’ installation of THAAD in South Korea. Short for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, THAAD is a defensive missile system against nearby, threatening missiles. The United States installed THAAD in South Korea for their own benefit against North Korea, supporting the decision with a fake gesture of hospitality towards South Korea – that THAAD will help protect South Korea. The consequences are rather hostile than hospitable, because China has reacted by banning Korean tourists and businesses.2 South Korea – a small nation in midst of turmoil – can do nothing against the U.S. policies, nor against Chinese policies. We are dependent on them. We are not free.

In order to fight against the fake, we have to first become real ourselves. It’s understandable that KIS students do not have the emotional motivation that less fortunate people surely do. Besides, the greatest fighters against the fake and injustice are those born into misfortune, those with overflowing emotional motivation; think Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Tupac, or even Hyeonseo Lee, who came to speak for us KIS students.

Those people fought for freedom because they wanted it “for real,” not at a superficial level. That’s why they were willing to become criminals in the eyes of the criminals, and why their impact is still felt today.

For us KIS students to become real, we simply have to walk out of the fake capsule and remove our spoiled lenses, so that we can truly see the world. Here in this real world, you can walk the path to self-actualization and find what you truly want – perhaps something that you would murder for, against the unjust standards of the society.

-Roger Han (’17)




Featured Image:

Protest in KIS

How can KIS be so quiet around this pandemonium?

You might have been a third-person all along, an observer, but now it’s impossible to not feel a part of this nightmarish reality.

The reality goes beyond just the immigration ban — which has already caused chaos in the airports, universities, businesses that employ immigrants, the White House, and the relevant countries around the world, including Iran and Australia, whose relationships with the United States have become tangled and knotted. The reality lies in the future, when Donald Trump will continue to violate the Constitution, basic human rights, and repeat his lies that his immigration ban is nothing worse than Barack Obama’s 2011 policy — which may become a truth after a long enough time.

As Trevor Noah of The Daily Show put it, we will all have to live in “Donald Trump’s reality” and his own truth.

According to Michelle Mark at Business Insider (1), Obama’s 2011 policy of temporary immigration ban on Iraqi refugees was a response to a particular event; two men were “suspected of making bombs to target American troops in Iraq.” On the other hand, Trump’s immigration ban is much broader and ambiguous. In an extreme sense, it’s fascism at work. Federal judge James Robart at Seattle has responded by temporarily blocking Donald Trump’s executive order on an immigration ban (2) (the block which Donald Trump condemned). Yet the decision has yet to calm the reality; people around the world, from New York to London, are still protesting and screaming at the deaf leaders of America, and at the silent “majority” of those who voted Donald Trump.

It’s a manifestation of an unbelievable pattern — the silent majority drowned South Korea in corruption and opened the gate for Brexit. With the silent majority, the ones with power are unstoppable; Trump effortlessly fired the acting attorney general, and here in South Korea, the Blue House has refused the special prosecutors’ search. Journalists have ceased being impartial in addressing those silent majorities. Perhaps upon an incredible injustice, journalists rise above their role as watchdogs and adopt the duty of social justice fighters.

And perhaps KIS can adopt this duty as well. Among a variety of academics and extracurriculars here at KIS, real social activism seems nonexistent. This holds true regarding the immigration ban, Brexit, and the corruption scandal in this very country. KIS students can read the news and hear the stories; they can even write. But they don’t speak up. See, we are a very rich high school — in finance and in knowledge. We can use both of them to make a legitimate impact around the world by protesting against injustices. A united KIS would be quite a force.

That may sound funny to people who have yet to realize the privilege that they are born with, and the misfortune that others have to live with — misfortune that chokes them and prevents them from crying out for help.

Trevor Noah humorously remarked that the immigration ban helped unite Muslims and other Americans, especially at the airport, where Muslims prayed as a group and were applauded. Taking inspiration from this ray of light in midst of darkness, perhaps KIS can be a guiding light and a voice for the unfortunate people around the world.

– Roger Han (’17)

Banner: Celine Yoon (’19)



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)

Lounge with Leona: Time for a Change

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

Time for a Change.

On the other side of the hemisphere, hundreds of thousands of people are protesting the new president-elect of the United States of America – Donald J. Trump. As he is expected to take office as the 45th President of the nation on January 20th, 2017, perhaps they see this as a count down. A clock, slowly ticking away, for time waits for no one.

Time for a Change.

I assume most of you who are currently reading this article had no say in who to vote for either because you’re too young, you’re not a citizen of America, or both. If you are a part of the minority who actually voted during this election, I have no right to, by any means, judge you by who you support. In fact, that’s not what the world needs right now. This is exactly not the time to play the blame-game, sabotaging those who support a party different from the one you do, or a candidate who you do not.

Rather, this moment which will be recorded in future history textbooks is one in which we must stand with one another, hand in hand. Ever since the first day Trump got elected as president, defeating Clinton, countless hate crimes have taken place.

Immigrants are terrified of deportation.

Muslim women are afraid of wearing certain articles of clothing, because they’re scared of the assault that may follow.

Women face the terror of Planned Parenthood perhaps being defunded.

Time for a Change.

We all say we need change, especially at a time like this. But what is change anyway? Change doesn’t happen by starting fights with those who disagree with you on a political level (or any other level, really). Nor does it happen by shouting profanity at protests. You’re only taking advantage of potential outlets for hate and to vent. And the world can only take so much hate, as it’s already flooded with it as of now.

Do not judge others by their sexual orientation, race, gender, or opinions.

Do not attempt to spew hate.

Do send love.

Do change from within, and be an accepting individual.

Time for a Change.

It doesn’t just go for those who are American. We’re all in this together. We, as humanity, can be the best Change.


– Leona Maruyama (’17)

Featured Image:

Light ’em Up

What really happened at Gwang Hwa Moon Square last week? Hear from the field reporter who was actually there.

On the 5th of November, the day of revolution in the movie V for Vendetta, the citizens of Seoul lit up the city with candles as a non-violent protest against President’ Park Geun Hye’s continuation of presidency. As the scandal regarding Park’s intimate affiliation with Choi Sunsil emerged on the surface through investigative journalism, the public’s disapproval of her qualification as a president reached its peak. According to a poll from November 4th, right after Park’s second official response to the allegation on the day before, only 5% (Hangeorae News) responded that she should remain in the office. Among the surveyed subjects, the approval rating amongst the age group 20s and 30s converged nearly to zero. As the voice of the public demanded her resignation conflicted with Park’s decision to stay, mass rallies were held by political activist groups, the most notable one on 5th with two hundred thousand people. This is a first-person account of the scene of the protest.

I got to the square at 4 p.m. Countless people had already filled the arena. Everyone had one goal and one goal only: to get Lady Park to step down from the Blue House (Korea’s presidential office). The rally had already started out at 2 p.m. with the funeral of Baek Nam Gi, a farmer who died due to a severe head injury he got during the violent police suppression of another non-violent protest. Leaving the protesters’ demands for labor law reform unsolved, the government showed meagre sign of taking responsibility.

Never have I ever seen such a massive crowd, probably numbering up to one hundred thousand before the sun came down. The stone ground was cold, but the spirit of the people kept the venue warm. The leaders of various groups spoke shouting out chants with the crowd, speaking up for their reasons to fight with us. To be honest, they seemed more or less intimidated by the number of people gathered, which far exceeded the ideal prediction of fifty thousand.

College students led the rally, each university representative proclaiming its ‘manifestos of current affairs’ (or 시국선언). Personally, the president of Seoul National University’s student body Bomi Kim’s speech was memorable. Her charismatic tone and well-organised thought regarding the issue made the crowd ignite once more, even with the incident they are well-informed about. Her ability to grasp the audience made her presence more distinct amongst many other brilliant student leaders. She had already made her name through the social network media by being elected as the first homosexual female student body president in a Korean university.

Perhaps because most young Koreans have not yet participated in protests of = similar scale before, the crowd was not used to the ambience of the protest initially. However, they unleashed the outburst from years of deception and unfairness, in the most citizenly manner imaginable. We all marched down to Jongro, against the unconstitutional restriction by the police. The local station, however,  ended up securing the streets and emptied the traffic for safe progression of the march. Snowballing even more people, we came back by 7:30 p.m. with almost two hundred thousand people lighting the candles in Gwang Hwa Moon Square.

At the second assembly, notable political figures stopped by the stage. There was a speaker from Korea’s Secondary School Activist Group, independently gathering a fairly impressive number of younger participants. When one of the organizers emphasized our presence at the scene and the crowd cheered for us, I imagined, it might have been the first time our generation marked the footstep in the history of Korea.

Under the statue of General Lee, we were an army with spears of candles, igniting our yearn for democracy. Although our struggle is only at its initial phase, the November 5th rally was a leap to take us forward.

#하야해 #hayahae

– Paul Jeon (‘17)

Sources  – Hangyeorae News

(Featured Image from myself)

A Leader Led Astray, People in Disarray: Choi Sun-Sil Scandal

A recent political scandal has left Korea in shambles. Read for a summery of the issue, along with a personal take on the individual’s attitude in the midst of such a crisis.

*Cover Image: Students gather in protest against the Park regime.

The leader of a state is secretly under heavy influence of a person who is not affiliated with the government in any way, who has become a mysterious figure with immense amounts of power and affluence under her fingertips. This falsely bestowed power reaches specific decisions handled through the puppet “leader” and even classified national documents. Does this sound like a post-apocalyptic novel to you? Perhaps a chapter in a history book, or a far-fetched conspiracy theory?

Shame on this nation: it is a current reality.

When Park Geun-hye was first elected as President of the Republic of Korea on December 19, 2012, the post-election sentiments were nothing out of the ordinary. She had won 51.6% of the vote [1], and the results left some of the populace disappointed, some indifferent, and some hopeful. In other words, her presidency started out like any other. Many Koreans looked out into a new era, hoping for the daughter of ex-president Park Chung-hee, and the first female president to be serving in Korea, to be a source of deliverance from the country’s societal problems. President Park’s career then saw many twists and turns, including election-meddling scandals, labour policy criticism, and heavy protest relating to government-created history textbooks. But the recent scandal, involving the aforementioned power figure, has led her approval ratings to drop to an all-time low of 5% [2].

Flags wave above the crowd as citizens protest against the Park regime.

The crux of the scandal is that president Park has been under the counsel of a personal acquaintance, a woman named Choi Sun-sil. The nature of this relationship is still being investigated, with Park only describing Choi as an “old friend”, but it has been strongly speculated that spiritual or shamanic guidance is at the core, especially with Choi’s father being a religious cult leader. This has provided even more of a sensationalist twist for conspiracy theorists and has given rise to the metaphor of a “Korean Rasputin”. Abundant rumours and first-hand accounts relate to Choi’s father having, at one point, completely held control over Park’s soul in her early life. The scandal is extremely complex and multi-faceted, and many narratives have yet to be confirmed, many questions yet to be answered.

Evidence, including some 200 computer files found in Choi’s office by journalists, exposed that Choi has advised president Park on matters big and small. Choi’s influence reached presidential speeches, important policy statements, and even wardrobe choices. From there, a string of investigations led to a mass of evidence on Choi’s corruption, allegations including manipulation of her daughter’s university admittance and connections with mass corporations. Increasing confirmation of the Choi family’s massive wealth has done much to continue spurning the nation’s anger. Choi Sun-sil has since returned to Korea and is awaiting trial for criminal charges.

One of the many flyers found near protest areas

Park’s reputation is now irrecoverable. Her feeble public apologies have done nothing to alleviate the public’s outrage, if not fueled it even more. She has discharged multiple officials in an attempt to regain some of the lost trust, but the citizens continue to cry out for resignation and even impeachment, while masses of people continue to gather in front of Gwanghwamun for protest, and in other local areas apart from Seoul. The population is no longer divided on evaluating Park as they were when she was first elected; the people are now in almost complete unity, rallying against the atrocious deception and complete disregard for democracy that the scandal has shown in president Park.

And what happens to women’s places in the government? While the conservative and heavily gender-biased nation of Korea seemed to have made some progress by electing a female president, some of the blame of this scandal is shifting towards “the inability of women to govern with rational thought”. Does it seem likely that Korea will be open to electing another female leader soon? What happens to international relations? What happens to North Korea, seeing that even Kim Jong-Un recently questioned the nature of Park’s foreign policies? The scandal permeates across every field of concern.


The issue goes much further than a simple corruption scandal. Many students of KIS are unaware of the magnitude of this problem, perhaps being masked by another riot of the U.S. presidential elections. But even while Koreans watch and mock the U.S. elections as if it were a circus, they forget that their own government has been one all along. Park’s entire presidency has been a farce. A puppet-master has been behind it all along: a leader that the people did not know they were voting for when they voted for Park in 2012. While some argument persists that the nation must seek stability while allowing Park to finish her presidency, this is difficult for the average civilian to accept when they feel that the government is not in their hands anymore. Indeed, one of the many slogans being cried across the country is “Korea is no longer a democracy”.

As individuals in a large, troubled population, we must shift our focus to being aware of the big picture. The single scandal is leading to greater attention in other areas of society with a lack of transparency. Korea needs to wake up to the reality that the scandal is only a centerpiece to a feast of corruption that has been continuing for decades. Awareness is crucial- the issue evolves daily and information becomes outdated within days. This article covers only the tip of the iceberg. With the limited writing capabilities of a high-schooler to capture such a hefty topic, readers are urged to follow the issue with other sources. It is also crucial not to be caught up in the popular fury, but to retain the ability to discern what information is relevant and credible, while genuinely understanding the implication of the issue. It is so easy to be angry, but so hard to be truly angry.

I attended a mass protest on November 12, 2016, where an estimated maximum of a million citizens gathered near Gwanghwamun, Cheongwadae (Blue House), and the Seoul City Hall. The number million can be hard to fathom- picture street after street as oceans of people, the economic and political center of the city overrun with anger. The demonstration held its heat well into the night, symbolic of how much personal passion this event had galvanized. The chants were deafening, the fury overwhelming.

As I stood holding a candle, staring into the crowd with my father, he told me, “shouting and making yourself heard is important, but just by being here, you are voting with your feet. You are expressing with your feet.” Perhaps it is difficult to see how we, as individuals, can change so massive of an issue. But taking a stance means something bigger than this scandal. We, too, can make a difference in each of our small worlds. Whether that means being an honest president, citizen, student, or school club officer, everyone has a place in making this country a better one. We stand at a crossroads in history- may we stand, ideologies united, in the belief that we have the power to change something.

– Jisoo Hope Yoon (’19)




Image credits: Jong-ha Yoon

Korean Politics for Dummies

Don’t you want to seem, and become more aware of what’s happening in our country?

As students of KIS, we tend to be less exposed to the news about Korean politics compared to students from other schools. For example, the recent congress election did not gather as much attention as the preliminary in the States. However, the recent election results were quite meaningful. The paradigm of Korean politics shifted from its ten year long pattern on the night of April 13th.

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Korean Congress Interior (Seongnam Newstoday)

In order to make this more familiar to the readers of KIS, here’s some quick background information, going all the way back to 1987, when the military government led by Chun Doo-hwan ended its seven year long ruling. Because of the government’s undemocratic nature, the overall public of South Korea was very much against the continuation of militaristic governing. This even escalated to mass protests in June, 1987.

1987 Protest (Huffington Post)

The dictator resigned. The 23 years of autocracy was over. Ironically however, the presidential election of 1987 ended with the victory of Roh Tae-woo, the political apprentice to Chun. In the next year, the congressional election only got the ruling party, Minjungdang, 125 seats out of 299; for the first time in Korean history, in which the ruling party was less powerful than the opposition in the house.

This was exciting at first. People expected more balanced politics from this composition. However, the leaders of two major opposition parties (Tong-il Minjoodang and Shin-minjoo Gonghwadang) accepted a merger offer from the ruling party. This led to a creation of a massive political party with 218 seats in the house; nothing was in their way now.

From the left, Kim Young-Sam, Roh Tae-Woo, Kim Jong-Pil (CDN)

Since then, Minjadang, the newly merged party, stood as Korea’s main conservative political party and consistently earned major supports from the voters. It remained as the biggest party in the house to this day, despite being the opposition party half the times.

Why is this important? Well, the congress is where laws are created and reformed. If one party is substantially greater than the rest, the voting procedure will allow more bills to be passed under their advantage.

Minjadang existed as the major ruling party until 1997 (under President Kim Young-Sam’s administration), but it lost the presidential election due to two factors: one, the previous president’s failure to prevent financial crisis and two, the candidates from the party ended up dividing the votes because one of them ran for president without accepting the party’s decision. From then on, Hannaradang (Minjadang switched its name) didn’t have a prosperous time for ten years, until their victory in  the17th presidential election followed by great results in the congress election. Like before in their heydays, Saenooridang (changed named again since 2012) exercised their power in the congress

This article attempts to be politically neutral. However, it is the general public’s opinion both left and right, that president Park’s administration displayed rather poor decision making skills and exhausted their supports with constant inner conflicts. Additionally, the arising controversy over a number of their policies caused disagreements amongst the voters, according to political analysts major foreign newspapers including the New York Times, BBC, the Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal.  I personally recommend the readers to take additional time to gather more information on this topic. There were many factors that affected the people’s judgements prior to the general election.

President Park Geun-hye and her party had an internal conflict over reforming the legislative procedure (Tistory)


The Saenooridang’s leader Kim Moo Sung had an internal turmoil with the President (Shinmoongo)


[세월호 참사] 이 편지 볼 수 있겠지?
The tragedy of the Sewol Ferry incident of April 2014, and the government’s poor damage control were definitely relatable factors to this election (자유주의)

The result of the 20th general election (April 13th) was a complete defeat for Saenooridang. The conservative party only managed to sustain 121 seats in the house, making the opposition (the Minjoo Party) the new major political party by 1 more seat in the house. Where did the rest of the seats go?

The People’s Party – Ahn Cheol Soo (Joongang Daily)


Only a few months prior to the election, a new political party was created. The People’s party, led by Ahn Cheol Soo, known for his enterprise in computer security program, managed to get 38 seats in the house. No, this is not a big number. Yet, it was a great leap for a newly developed party like the People’s party.

The significance in this new composition is that for the first time in Korean politics, not one political party can assume the majority vote in the congress. Because at least two parties must agree on the issue before passing the bill, there should be more balance in the legislation process. At least for the next four years, people are expecting more democratic dynamics in Korean politics as public policies are less dependent on mere political inclination, but more based on public opinions.

That’ll be all for today. I hope KIS students pay more attention to Korean politics. It takes time to gain enough knowledge to have a justified stance, but it would be a required process for your votes in the 2017 presidential and 2020 general election.

– Paul Jeon (’17)

Featured Image: Washington Post

Donald Trump’s Candidacy

What will become of the billionaire’s simple-minded circus?

It’s more or less an accepted fact that the at-first laughing stock candidate, Donald Trump, may actually be a potential pathway for the Republican presidential nomination. So, here’s a quick crash course on Trump regarding his candidacy journey so far.

Firstly, hats off to Trump for exceeding the expectations of being just a media sham, and getting down to work straight away after announcing his candidacy in New York. Travelling to Iowa, New Hampshire, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, Trump had a good kick start his campaign with rallies and speeches that has done a pretty decent job of swaying the people as proven by survey statistics.

However, it’s not all rainbows and sunshine for Trump- Trump has become fairly well known for his pretty potent criticism after declaring to run for presidency; he’s openly offended ‘the women’, ‘the Latinos’, Asians, immigrants, ‘the blacks’, Jews, Muslims, Mexicans, and the list goes on. And all of this surfaced during his first major debut as a Republican candidate on television on the August 6 Fox News Republican Debate. At the beginning of the debate, the candidates were asked if they would pledge not to run as an independent candidate in case they don’t win the Republican nomination, and Trump was the only candidate who refused to pledge. As one can see, Trump clearly has quite the assertiveness. Let’s not forget what Trump said about Fox News’ Megyn Kelly after the debate: as a “lightweight” with “blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever”. Despite the efforts by both Fox News and other candidates to crush Trump during the debate, Trump retained the first place after the debate, with an NBC News poll showing him at 23% not long after its air.

Let’s look at some of his standpoints on some of the major issues that have come up so far:

  1. “ObamaCare is a catastrophe that must be repealed & replaced”
  2. “I am against gun control”
  3. “Mexico & Latin America send us drugs, crime, and rapists”
  4. “Build great wall on southern border; have Mexico pay for it”
  5. “One-time 14% tax on wealthy to pay down national debt”

Not to mention his renown public comments that made it to becoming GIFs:


It’s a political milestone really for the US as the billionaire real estate media mogul has become the consistent frontrunner for the Republican nomination. The question is whether people would really vote for such a personality and extremist views when it comes down to the 2016 elections. It will definitely be interesting to keep an eye on how Trump’s campaign turns out throughout the next few months.

– Hyun Jung Choi (’16)