Tag Archives: Seoul


Education Ministry Cancels Demotion of Seoul’s Elite Schools


The South Korean Education Ministry overturned a decision by the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education (SMOE) to strip six private high schools of their elite status, according to the Korea Herald.

Seoul’s education chief Cho Hi-yeon announced on Oct. 31 that the schools had failed to accept SMOE’s offer to forfeit their right to admit students based on test scores as a step towards “educational equality.”

The Education Ministry condemned the move, calling his decision an “abuse of power,” responding this week by citing a law that if “a head of an autonomous government body makes an order that is illegal or is against the public interest, the relevant minister can cancel or suspend it.”

This is reportedly the latest in a standoff between the ministry and the Seoul education office over the issue of autonomous private schools, which maintain their own curriculum and collect higher tuition fees than other schools. They will still be able to retain these privileges, among others.

Both sides have claimed to have final say on the matter, with SMOE vowing to take the issue to the Supreme Court.

The autonomous school system was first established under President Lee Myung-bak to encourage competition among schools. South Korea has about 50 autonomous schools nationwide, about half of them in Seoul. These “elite” schools have the ability to select students based on test scores and charging higher tuition fees instead of relying on government support. They’ve often been criticized for running curriculums focusing on college entrance exams and negatively influencing public education.

Photo courtesy of Yonhap

Pikachu Parade via Segye

Pikachu Parade in Seoul Draws Mobs


Hundreds of South Koreans flocked to Seoul’s Dongdaemun Design Plaza (DDP) this past weekend to catch a Pikachu, or at least a snapshot of one.

The Pikachu parade, which was a part of a two-day Pokemon Champions Day, celebrated the first Korean pro-gamer to win the Pokemon Video Game World Championships. While a similar event was held in Yokohama, Japan back in August, it didn’t attract a mob of people waiting to pounce on 10 adorable Pikachu mascots like Seoul’s parade did.

According to the Korea Times, the crowd turnout at the plaza was so huge that it prompted safety concerns, which led to two of the four parades to being cancelled.

“The police were worried about the crowd and how it could have led to a possible stampede,” said an event organizer. “So we decided to hold 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. parades only, and cancelled the 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. shows.”

Here are some photos from the event:


e3npadr5n2cwsch6ctdq(Photo courtesy of Yonhap)

Selfie sticks are a must when playing Pokemon snap.

283897-pikachu mob
(Photo courtesy of Destructoid)

(Photo courtesy of furymanura)

(Photo courtesy of furymanura)

Below is a short clip of Yokohama’s Pikachu parade. Be amazed by the adorable synchronization.

Featured photo courtesy of SEGYE


Irish Teacher Rejected from a Job in South Korea Due to ‘Alcoholism Nature of the Irish’


A 26-year-old teacher from the Republic of Ireland was turned down from a teaching position in South Korea due to the “alcoholism nature” of her countrymen.

Katie Mulrennan, from County Kerry, had applied for a a teaching job in Seoul after seeing an advertisement on Craigslist in September. She wrote to the recruitment agency about her qualifications, stating that she had been teaching English for over three years in Barcelona, Oxford, Abu Dhabi and South Korea.

However, instead of an offer, the agency sent a rejection email that read: “I am sorry to inform you that my client does not hire Irish people due to the alcoholism nature of your kind.”

The teacher said she was stunned and couldn’t believe the terse message was real at first.


“Usually when you apply for a job and they don’t want you, they don’t send a reply,” Mulrennan told BBC. “Or they tell you they would prefer someone from North America, because some schools prefer the accent. But this reply was a first.”

Once the shock subsided, Mulrennan reported the incident to Craigslist and replied to the agency with a polite email.  She has since found a new job in Seoul and said that she now finds humor in the situation.

“I was annoyed about it. But I can also see it was a little bit hilarious as well,” she said. “I still love the country and being in Seoul.”

Discriminatory hiring practices have been an ongoing issue for South Korea for many years. Earlier this week, Korea Nazarene University was criticized for its discriminatory requirement for English teacher applicants in its hiring ad, which read: “Drinking, smoking and homosexuality are not allowed.”



Shin Hae-chul’s Autopsy Results Revealed


On Nov. 3, South Korean forensic officers announced the results of their first autopsy on Shin Hae-chul and revealed that they found a 0.3 cm hole in the singer’s pericardium.

Shin Hae-chul, a veteran singer and rock icon in the South Korean music industry, died on Oct. 27 after suffering from a cardiac arrest. Five days prior to his death, Shin underwent an intestinal surgery at Seoul Ansan Hospital, which raised suspicions that his death was caused by the professional negligence of the doctors who operated on him.

On the day of his funeral, Shin’s family members announced that they will be pursuing a lawsuit against Asan Hospital for alleged medical malpractice.

The National Forensic Service (NFS) said at an official briefing that the cause of death appears to be blood poisoning caused by a combination of peritonitis, an inflammation of the abdomen’s inner wall, and pericarditis, an inflammation of sac-line membrane enclosing the heart.

According to the Joongang Ilbo, the medical records provided by Asan Hospital stated that doctors found a hole in Shin’s small intestine, which caused small amounts of food to leak through the hole and infect the abdomen. However, the NFS said it was unable to find the alleged centimeter-long perforation since the doctors at Ansan Hospital had removed it during surgery.

“Since the procedure took place in Ansan Hospital, we have to wait for cell slides and small intestine extracts in order to look into this matter further,” said Choi Young-shik, the head of the NFS’s Seoul office.

Choi also added that he could not confirm whether or not the hole in Shin’s pericardium was a direct result of the intestinal surgery, but said there was a “correlation” between them.

The NFS will continue to investigate in order to determine the precise cause of death, using more detailed pathological examinations and an X-ray CT scan on the body.

Featured photo courtesy of Koreaboo

pikachu parade

Pikachu Parade Coming to Seoul


A horde of adorable Pikachus will be storming the streets of Seoul on Saturday to celebrate the first Korean pro-gamer to win the Pokemon Video Game World Championship, reports the Korea Times.

Similar to Pokemon Day that was held in Yokohama, Japan in August, Seoul will be hosting a two-day Pokemon Champions Day event at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza on November 15 and 16. Event activities will include card game tournaments, pop quizzes and an interview with Alpha Sapphire and Omega Ruby game developers Junichi Masuda and Shigeru Ohmori.

However, the highlight of the celebration is “Pikachu Show Time,” a live performance by Pikachu mascots, which will be staged four times per day from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Below is a video of the Pikachu dance performance at Yokohama. Get ready for cuteness overload.

Featured photo courtesy of kepakepa/Twitter


Seoul Educational Office to Demote Six Elite High Schools


Six out of 14 autonomous private high schools in Seoul will be stripped of their privileges for failing to carry out a proper curriculum that ensures fairness in education, said Seoul’s education chief Cho Hi-yeon on Friday.

According to Yonhap, the decision to revoke the schools’ elite status came after the six schools failed to accept the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education’s (SMOE) offer to forfeit their right to admit students based on test scores.

“I’ve decided to cancel the designations of six autonomous private high schools and delay the cancellation for two other schools that showed a clear desire to improve themselves,” Cho said in a press conference at the Seoul education office. He reiterated his election pledge to ultimately phase-out the elite school system and said he will aim to revoke student selection privileges for all autonomous private high schools by 2016.

His statement has spurred outrage among the elite high schools as well as the Ministry of Education, which called Cho’s decision an abuse of power and ordered him to immediately cancel the measure.

Among 25 autonomous high schools in Seoul, 14 were up for re-evaluation after Cho questioned the results of their assessments and added a “general evaluation” feature in July. On Sept. 4, the SMOE announced that eight of the 14 schools failed to reach the minimum score needed to retain their elite statuses in the new evaluation and would be removed from their appointments.

While two schools, Shinil and Soongmoon, have been granted a two-year grace period, the remaining six schools — Kyunghee, Paichai, Sehwa, Wooshin, Choongang and Ewha Womans’ University High Schools — have vehemently objected to having their elite status stripped.

Ahead of Cho’s announcement on Friday, the Association of Principals of Autonomous Private High Schools held a press conference at the Seoul education office to voice their opposition to their demotion and threatened to take legal measures against the SMOE.

“Canceling (the status of) autonomous schools was based on Cho’s completely arbitrary evaluation and was an abuse of his position. We will never accept it and all legal educational responsibility falls on the education chief,” Kim Yong-bok, the principal of Paichai High School, told the Korea Herald.

The autonomous school system was first introduced under former President Lee Myung-bak administration as part of his effort to encourage competition among schools. South Korea has about 50 autonomous schools nationwide, and half of them are located in Seoul. In addition to selecting students based on their middle school test scores, these elite schools have the privilege of charging exorbitant tuition fees instead of relying on government support.

They have often been criticized for running curriculums that solely focus on college entrance exams and negatively influencing public education.

Photo courtesy of Yonhap


UberTAXI Launches in Seoul, But Is It Legal?


Despite ongoing battles with Seoul’s city government and transport ministry, Uber has recently launched a new app called UberTAXI that allows Seoul residents to hail registered cabs, reported the Wall Street Journal.

Uber has contracted an undisclosed number of Seoul cabbies, who will receive a subsidy of 2,000 won ($1.8) per ride booked using the UberTAXI app, said a Seoul-based spokeswoman. She added that the new service was launched without consulting the city beforehand.

Seoul authorities have repeatedly cracked down on the California-based company’s services, claiming that they are illegal under local law. The city government has already banned the company’s premium limo service, UberBLACK, in July and started cracking down on UberX, a service that connects everyday drivers with passengers. In an apparent effort to drive Uber out of Seoul, the city is even planning to launch its own taxi-hailing app with features similar to UberTAXI.

However, Uber claims it has complied with all of Seoul’s local regulations and said that it services have increased business in Sinagpore, Tokyo and Hong Kong by up to 40 percent.

Despite the constant bans and pushback from Seoul, Uber said its long-term goal is to contract licensed freelancers in Seoul.

Photo courtesy of BusinessTech


Seoul’s Jeans Exhibit Showcases History of Defiance and Style


Fashion comes and goes, but denim has stood the test of time, and for many cultures, it has also stood as an icon of youthful defiance and identity.

South Korea is no stranger to jeans, but many don’t know about its humble beginnings and are unaware that the garment was first introduced to Koreans by U.S. soldiers after the Korean War. A new exhibition at the National Folk Museum of Korea in Seoul aims to show the modern generation the history of denim, from its introduction to how it became a symbol for Korean youth in the 1960s and ’70s.

Although the exhibition has a number of antique pieces, the focus is on the impact of jeans in Korea. Vanya Lee, the lead curator for the exhibit, told the Korea Herald that she interviewed nearly 500 people, mostly ordinary Korean citizens, for their own personal stories about wearing jeans.

Lee Jae-yeon, 68, was the first model to pose in jeans in Korea. He recalled in a media clip that plays in the exhibit that it was difficult to get a pair at the time, as the only jeans came through U.S. military suppliers.

By the ’70s, jeans were more commonplace, but they were unpopular and often criticized by the older generation. Singer Yang Hee-eun, whose 1971 debut album depicts her wearing a denim shirt and jeans, said other singers refused to stand on the same stage with her because she was wearing jeans.


Aside from old denim and interviews, the exhibition also showcases artworks by San Francisco artist Ben Venom and jeans from North Korea. There is also a recreation of a ’70s/’80s Korean music cafe, where young folks in jeans often hung out.

The exhibition runs at the National Folk Museum in central Seoul until Feb. 23 of next year, and admission is free. Check www.nfm.go.kr for details. If you’re in the area, be sure to check it out!

Jeans 3

Images via National Folk Museum of Korea