🍁 Cultural Insight: Semesters of stress? Inside Korean campus culture
🍁 Korean Slang: 금손
🌸 KOMMON’s 작명소 from last week
Check out the cool names we brought at the end of the newsletter! (+ Feedback appreciated!)
The Ministry of Law discriminates against LGBTQ people
A manual on treating LGBTQ people in correctional facilities issued by the Ministry of Law was discovered to feature discriminatory language. The manual refers to crossdressers as "여장남자 (shemales)" and "남장여자 (hefemales)", which are considered derogatory by members of the LGBTQ community. The manuals also called for isolating LGBTQ prisoners from the general population. The Ministry of Law even used a screen fence to separate LGBTQ prisoners during exercise time, in the showers, and during meetings. Many members of the public have criticized these practices as discriminatory and unfair.Link (Korean link)
McDonald's will only give you a plastic straw if you ask
McDonald's Korea struck an agreement with the Ministry of Environment to reduce disposable products. McDonald's will start to provide sippling lids with beverages and will only provide plastic straws upon request. They will also start to provide beverages with multi-use cups. Starbucks, Coffee Bean, and other franchises also signed on to the agreement.Link(Korean link)
Round 3: Choo Mi-ae vs. Yoon Seok-yeol
On November 24, Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae demanded disciplinary action against Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-yeol and removed from his duties. The suspension of the incumbent prosecutor general's office is the first in the current Korean constitution's history. Choo argues that Yoon has to be removed from the office for a few reasons, most notably secretly contacting a key member of a broadcasting company and leading an illegal inspection of the court which took on the former Minister Cho Kook case. In response, Yoon filed a request to the court to suspend Choo's order on the night of the 25th. Of the 60 prosecutors' offices nationwide, more than 40 have also issued statements protesting against Choo. Link
China hopes to set the tone before Biden takes office
Wang Yi, head of the Chinese Foreign Affairs and State Council, visited Korea and said, "The fate of the Korean peninsula must be given to both sides." Unlike the Biden administration, which emphasizes strengthening the US alliance, Wang urges putting a check on the U.S. while putting forward dialogue with North Korea. Meanwhile, economic cooperation within the region, such as the early entry into force of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP), and the rapid promotion of the Korea-China and Korea-China-Japan Free Trade Agreement, has also hurried. Link
North Korea prohibits the use of dollars and executed currency exchange as a scapegoat
North Korean leader Kim Jung-un ordered the execution of a money changer in Pyongyang last month as public retaliation for a sharp decline in the exchange rate. While the U.S. dollar has up to now been used as the currency for internal exchanges in North Korea, the use of the dollar has been banned after a series of anti-COVID-19 measures have been implemented. As a result, the North Korean won's value has soared, leading to complaints from North Korean citizens. Link
IVF restrictions called into question
Many people in Korean society have been hotly debating Korean legal restrictions on in vitro fertilization after Japanese celebrity 사유리 conceived a child using IVF treatment. She said that since it was illegal to get treatment as an unmarried woman in Korea, she had to fly to Japan, where it is legal. Proponents argue that unmarried individuals should have the right to conceive using IVF, but critics say that conceiving a baby through IVF deprives the child of a father. Link
Epidemiological investigators are experiencing burn out
According to a study conducted by Seoul National University researchers, 8 out of 10 epidemiological investigators report exhaustion due to their workload during COVID-19. Most reported working over 12 hours a day and receiving phone calls even after they got off from work. They were not provided computers or phones by the government which led to unintended consequences. First, these investigators' personal phone numbers were revealed to the public. Second, investigators had to pay for extra costs on their own. When these investigators had to conduct field investigations, they had to use their car and pay for their own fuel, as well. Some argue that it is necessary to change this system and improve their working condition to maintain Korea's quarantine system right now. The prime minister said that the government would come up with the measures to support the investigators. Link (Korean link)
The third wave of the pandemic in Korea predicted by AI became a reality
About three months ago, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) of Washington University predicted that the number of confirmed cases in Korea would increase rapidly in December. They predicted that the number of deaths could be up to 11,400. the current number of deaths is 523. Since the number of cases has jumped from last week, some are worried that this prediction would be correct. Jung Eun-kyung, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that they would analyze how the prediction was ascertained out and come up with long-term measures. Link (Korean link)
Semesters of stress? Inside Korean campus culture
Fictional but representative story of freshman Min Ji
[Illustration by O.T.O]
A new semester begins soon.
Min Ji, a college student, was choosing courses to take next semester. Among the courses required to be taken, students could select electives as well. Usually, students have to take 18 credits (each course is typically 3 credits) in one semester.
To select the best courses, Min Ji checked former students' reviews and ratings on community websites. These provide details on how the professor teaches, how many assignments there were, and other important information.
An ideal schedule usually has no morning obligations and an appropriate gap between classes (공강). The worst schedule was to have has morning classes with no break between classes.
This schedule is called “Hermione’s schedule,” a reference to Harry Potter because it looks like one is participating in all classes.
It is terrible to take three or four courses on a single day! Min Ji also wanted to have time for a lunch break. Most of all, Min Ji wanted to make sure she had a free day at least once per week. Many students prefer Friday or Monday. If you do not have any classes on Friday, it is called 금공강.
Course registration day
Course registration (수강신청) is usually done on a first-come, first-served basis. Only those who click quickly could take the classes they wanted.
Min Ji went to an internet café (PC방). One of the classes Min Ji wanted to take was very popular. It had a capacity of 30 people, but more than 500 students wanted to take it. Therefore Min Ji needed a fast computer to make sure to register before anyone else!😬
However, competitors were already sitting in the PC방. Some even check the server time by using programs such as Navism, UTCK, and 116. Min Ji was practicing to click the button at the exact time. However, a 선배 (a more senior classmate or coworker) of hers named Jun said that she had to click one second before the exact time.
Now came the time to click the button. 5, 4, 3, 2 -- click! Min Ji clicked it a second before 9.
However, it was too late.🥺 The registration site said the number of participants was already at its maximum.
Min Ji was not able to take half of the courses she wanted. Min Ji heard cheers from others in the PC방, but she felt depressed.
Min Ji eventually emailed the professor about the situation (빌넣, 빌어서 넣는다: asking a professor to put one in that class):
"Professor, I need to take this course to graduate,
so please put me in your class."
Thanks to the professor who understood the situation, Min Ji finally registered for the class.
During the orientation, the professor said that students will be evaluated according to the relative evaluation system. In Korea, there are many courses with relative evaluation. This means that the professor determines student grades by comparing them against those of their peers. Usually, only 10% of all students can get an A+. That means in this course, only 3 students could get an A+.
The student sitting next to Min Ji was sleeping, but recording the professor's lecture with his cell phone. He said he will listen to it later during the exam season.
Although Min Ji did not record the lecture, she did her best to get good grades on the test. However, after the midterm was finished, she could feel that she failed.
When Min Ji checked the community site after the midterm, other students were already guessing the answers. She tallied her answers and soon realized that she got a lot of answers wrong.🤯
"This semester is ruined."
Min Ji checked whether the withdrawal period (철회기간) was already over. Min Ji eventually decided to self-drop (자체드롭) to retake the course (재수강).
Withdrawal period (철회기간): The period during which a class can be dropped.
Self-drop (자체드롭): It is a method that a participant in a class deliberately makes their grade fall into the threshold necessary for retaking.
Retake a class (재수강): A system that allows students to take the same classes again if they receive scores below a certain grade.
End of semester
Min Ji submitted a blank paper on the final exam to make sure she gets grades low enough to retake the course.
Min Ji thought to herself that she would probably get a C- for this course and then be able to retake it.
A few weeks later, Min Ji's grades came out.
No way!😲 Although Min Ji submitted a blank paper on the final exam, she still received a B-. B- was not considered low enough to retake the course.
"What should I do!"
Min Ji wanted to get a lower grade, so she decided to send an email to the professor.
I am writing to inquire about my grade.
Could you please lower my grade to C?
My performance was not up to par this semester, so I hope to retake the course next semester.
I will work harder next semester and get better grades.
I look forward to your reply.
The few 선배 whom Min Ji knows told her that these sorts of requests frequently worked so that professors would lower grades. However, Min Ji's professor replied saying that it was impolite to ask such a question.
Those 선배 mentioned that during their time it was really common to make such inquiries. However, since most universities in Korea have become more rigid regarding the grades, it is now considered to be inappropriate.
Min Ji was reminded of the day she first signed up for the course, saying:
"I got off on the wrong foot." 😧
금손 [Geum Son]
Meaning: It refers to someone good at 1) making or drawing something with their hands or 2) getting a ticket for a concert after intense competition.
Origin: 금 (gold) + 손 (hand), Gold hand. 금손 are good at something they have to use their hands. Therefore, people put "금"(gold) in front of "손"(hand) to praise their skill.
1) Artistic works
A: 와, 이게 뭐야? 네가 그린 거야?
B: 응. 어제 비가 오는 풍경이 너무 예뻐서 한 번 그려봤어.
A: 너 정말 금손이구나.
A: Wow, what's this? Did you draw it?
B: Yes. Yesterday it was raining, and the scenery was stunning. So I drew it.
A: Wow. You are very skilled.
2) Course registration
A: 너 김교수님 거 수업 들어갔어?
B: 응. 나 한 번도 내가 듣고 싶은 수업 못들은 적 없어!
A: 와, 금손이네.
A: Did you manage to get into professor Kim's course?
B: Yes, I did. I've never failed to get into the course I want!
A: Wow. You are skilled.
KOMMON's 작명소 from last week
Remember that we opened KOMMON's 작명소 last week to make traditional Korean names? Today we are bringing you the names! We hope you like it!
For Ashley, you wanted to be "someone bright and positive"! What about "환희 [hwanhui]"?
환 (奐) means shining, and 희 (喜) means happy. And the word itself also means joy or delight.✨
For the anonymous reader who wanted to be "someone kind," we recommend "바다[Bada]."🌊 It means sea in Korean, and when you use it for the name, it means "broad mind just like a sea."
For Louise, who wants to be a "wise and fierce person, like a dragon," we suggest "미르[Mi Reu]" It is pure Korean, meaning dragon, and often used for names.🐲 Awesome name!
For Larry, who wants "someone with great power and knowledge that no one can f*** with, like the god of the sky," what about "가온[Ga On]"? It is pure Korean, meaning the center of the world.🌎 Perfect name for you!
For Marta, who tries to become a better person by helping others and to be stronger for herself, we suggest "시우[Si U]." 시(施) means giving, and 우(優) means ample. Perfect name for someone who always takes care of someone around them and themselves!💖
Lastly, for Saskia, who wants to be someone "cheerful, caring, and vibrant," what about "예정[Ye Jeong]"? 예 (叡) means bright, and 정 (晸) means rising sun.🌞 So you are someone who brightens and warms up the people around you!