Tag Archives: south korea


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


Nearly One in Three Korean Students Faces Cyberbullying


Nearly one in three South Korean students has experienced cyberbullying through online games, text messages, emails and social media, according to a recent state-funded poll.

The survey of 4,000 middle and high school students nationwide showed that 27.7 percent of the respondents admitted to being bullied online over the past three months, reported Yonhap. The most common form of cyberbullying was revealed to be the leaking of private information online at 12.1 percent. Bullying through online games was the second most common case at 10.2 percent, followed by verbal abuse in Kakao Talk chat rooms and on social media at 7.5 percent.

More than half of the respondents confessed to simply watching others get cyberbullied, with less than 3 percent notifying teachers and only 2.2 percent reporting to the police.

When questioned further, more than 36 percent of the respondents said the bullying occurred because the bully “either disliked or hated the victim,” while 20.5 percent said there was “no particular reason” behind the harassment. Others (8.2 percent) revealed that they were being bullied “just for fun.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-03 at 12.53.32 PMData by National Youth Policy Institute. Graphic courtesy of the Wall Street Journal/Datawrapper. 

According to Yonhap, the poll results were revealed at an assembly on cyberbullying, which was held at the National Assembly building and hosted by Rep. Yun Jae-ok of the ruling Saenuri Party.

The assembly covered the latest methods of cyberbullying, such as “cyber imprisonment,” a scenario where bullies pester a victim into accepting a chat room invitation and then verbally harass them.

“We need to come up with practical solutions that will prevent and eradicate cyberbullying, which harms teenagers’ physical and emotional well-being,” said Rep. Yun.

Over the past few months, the South Korean education ministry has been making efforts to prevent cyberbullying, including developing an alert service that notifies parents when their child receives a text message containing foul language. Since South Korea is one of the most wired countries in the world, the ministry commented that cyberbullying has become an unfortunate side effect.

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

Comfort Women

Queensborough’s Kupferberg Holocaust Center to Create Permanent Asian Comfort Women Exhibit


The Kupferberg Holocaust Center and Archives at Queensborough Community College in New York will house a permanent exhibit to chronicle the history of Asian comfort women, according to New York Daily News.

Leaders from the Asian American community and the center made the announcement this past week, stating that they wanted to make sure the painful stories of former comfort women are not forgotten over time.

City Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) and Sung K. Min, president of the Korean American Association of Greater New York, joined the center’s executive director Arthur Flug on Thursday to show preliminary renderings of what the exhibit would look like.

According to Queens Tribune, Flug said the theme of keeping stories of survivors alive was the chief reason for the Holocaust Center to create the Asian Comfort Women exhibit.

The exhibit will tell stories of women, many from Korea, China and the Philippines, who were forced into sexual slavery during World War II by Japanese soldiers. These countries were occupied by the Japanese army at the time.

Community leaders will look to raise funds for the installation and maintenance of the exhibit, which could cost about $50,000 to $80,000, according to Flug and Min.

Exhibit 1
Sung K. Min (left) and Arthur Flug. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.

Exhibit 2
A rendering of the permanent exhibition at the Kupferberg Holocaust Resource Center and Archives, located at Queensborough Community College. Photo courtesy of New York Daily News.

The center had hosted events on comfort women in previous years. It runs a class for local students, who will eventually be allowed to interview a comfort woman at the end of the course. The center has also arranged meetings for Holocaust survivors to meet with a number of aging comfort women.

For the city of Queensborough, this isn’t the first time the comfort women issue has been brought up. Councilman Koo unveiled a controversial proposal in 2012 for a possible comfort women memorial and to rename an intersection as “Comfort Women Memorial Way.” However, community leaders have been unable to find a location for either option.

Top image via Reuters. 


South Korea’s Rival Political Parties Agree to Pass Sewol Ferry Bills


South Korea’s two opposing political parties finally reached an agreement to pass three legislative bills Friday in response to April’s maritime disaster, which killed over 300 people inside the capsized ferry.

The agreement between the ruling Saenury Party and the opposing New Politics Alliance for Democracy will prompt an independent investigation to thoroughly identify the cause of the Sewol ferry’s sinking through a fact-finding committee and an independent counsel. They also agreed to hold discussions on how to compensate the victims and their families.

This bi-partisan agreement, which comes 199 days after the disaster occurred off of South Korea’s southwestern coast, will also shut down the operations of the country’s coast guard and the National Emergency Management Agency. Instead, the two parties will build two headquarters to oversee South Korea’s maritime security under the supervision of a new government office.

Initially, South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s announcement in May to scrap the coast guard was met with scathing criticisms, most of which accused her of trying to divert attention from the responsibility of her own regime.

The Sewol ferry capsized on April 16 and took the lives of 295 people while nine are still missing in the waters. Most of the victims are students from Danwon High School, who were on their way to a field trip in Jeju Island. The disaster sparked a public outcry in South Korea over the government’s lax safety standards and lack of response to the tragedy after it was revealed that the ferry’s captain and many of the crew members abandoned the ship after telling the passengers to stay put in their cabins.

Earlier investigations also revealed that the sinking was caused by a combination of cargo overloading, illegal modification of the vessel in addition to poor helmsmanship of the ferry’s crew members.

Over the last several months, many of the victims’ families took to the streets and some started an indefinite fasting to urge the South Korean government to pass the bill to fully investigate the cause of the disaster.

Featured image by Yonhap News Agency


SAT Cheating Investigation: The Latest Scandal in SKorean Education


Thousands of Chinese and South Korean students who took their SATs earlier this month will have to wait a bit longer for their scores to arrive. The Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the exam around the world, is temporarily withholding scores in response to allegations of cheating, according to the New York Times.

The Educational Testing Service, which is contracted by the College Board to administer the test overseas, said in a statement that they had “specific, reliable information” that there were “organizations that seek to illegally obtain test materials for their own profit, to the ultimate detriment of all students.” The ETS also said it would investigate and release valid scores by mid-November.

The SAT is a crucial test for international students applying for American colleges and universities. Unfortunately for the students affected in this latest cheating scandal, they won’t be able to send their scores in time to make the early decision deadline, which is at the end of October for most institutions.

An executive director at Princeton Review’s Hong Kong and Shanghai divisions told TIME that most of the students who are applying for early decision to American universities already have scores from past tests, but most likely took the October exam in hopes of submitting a higher score.

Students took to social media and message boards, understandably expressing concerns over whether or not their chances of admission would be affected. ETS spokesman Thomas Ewing assuaged these fears, telling TIME this past Wednesday that ETS would “make universities aware of the circumstances and supply students with a letter to share with the schools to which they are applying.” Other admissions counselors also commented that the delay would not hurt chances of admissions — as long as they weren’t implicated in the investigation.

The news isn’t all too surprising, especially regarding the highly competitive South Korean education system. In the past, a number of preparation schools have been accused of acquiring test questions in advance and then sharing them with their clientele — the students. The SAT was cancelled in South Korea in May of last year, and 900 scores were voided in 2007 due to the same reports.

The picture gets worse in the case of the yearly college entrance exam, which is considered a “make-or-break” moment for young Koreans. The South Korean Ministry of Education faces a difficult task of fixing a system that has been described as an “arms race.” Parents reportedly paid $18 billion in 2013 for private education in cram schools, also known as hagwons, to gain an advantage in the yearly college entrance exam. An average household of two children spends more than 4 million won ($3,946), or about 10 percent of monthly income, on private education.

Most of the money goes to private English lessons, which explains the bottomless need for English teachers. In August, Education Minister Hwang Woo-yea said the ministry was considering changing the grading system for English, one of the most competitive subjects in the entrance exam. According to previous test-takers, a single wrong answer in English could mean a student missing the cut for the highest tier of scoring to be considered for an elite university.

All that spending and stressing apparently isn’t paying off too handsomely. Learning company EF Education First ranked South Korea at No. 24 among 60 countries in English proficiency.

Lying on college applications is a rampant issue as well, according to Joongang Daily. Students include awards that don’t exist, volunteer and extracurricular activities they’ve never done and awards they’ve never received. In many instances, their teachers have no problem writing recommendation letters full of activities and achievements the student never fulfilled. A system that was meant to help rural and lower income students by taking the focus off standardized test scores doesn’t have the capacity and regulations to properly screen applicants.

Since 2011, South Korea has led the world in the percent of young adults with a college education, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But as always, the numbers don’t tell the whole story — after all, an incredibly competitive system that drives many to cheat, lie and spend huge amounts of money can’t be healthy for the students.

A poll by the Korea Health Promotion Foundation taken earlier this year revealed that over half of the teens polled said they had suicidal thoughts this year, and one in three said they felt very depressed. In addition, almost half of the teens polled said school pressure and uncertainty of the future were the main causes of stress. This is evident in Korean Students Speak, a Tumblr project created by a group of Fulbright English Teaching Assistants who wanted to allow their students to creatively express their opinions about anything. Many students took the opportunity to vent and express their frustrations about the pressure of school.

Test scores and intensive education may have made sense during the “age of industrialization,” said Lee Ju-ho, an academic at a think tank in Seoul and former education minister. But not anymore.

“We look into the ways to reform our education system not based on test scores, but based on creativity and social and emotional capacities,” Lee told BBC News last year.

Education Minister Seo Nam-Soo echoed the same sentiment, which is at least a start. “We still have a long way to go,” he said, “but we are doing some soul-searching in our society, and our goals now are about how to make our people happier.”

Image via Education News


Clara Named the Second Most Beautiful Woman in the World by ‘MODE Lifestyle Magazine’


South Korean model and actress Clara Lee was listed as the second most beautiful woman in the world on Oct. 28 by MODE Lifestyle Magazine.

Following American actress/model Tania Marie Caringi, Clara took second place on the magazine’s “100 Most Beautiful Women in the World 2014″ list. Meanwhile, German model Cristina Maria Saracut ranked third.

Aside from the top three, the list included Hollywood actresses Jessica Alba and Scarlett Johansson, Brazilian Victoria’s Secret model Alessandra Ambrosio, South African model Candice Swanepoel and American singer Beyonce.

According to MODE, Clara is the magazine’s first Asian cover model. “[Clara] has a refreshing image and bright personality. Her stellar performances in Korean movies, modeling and acting caught the attention of our U.S. judges, which led to her high ranking on the list,” said a magazine representative.

In response to the impressive title, Clara commented, “I’m grateful that people not only in Korea but also overseas are looking at me prettily with a good heart.  I want to make sure to relay my thanks to my fans both domestic and foreign through this opportunity.”

She also tweeted photos from the magazine.

The 28-year-old celebrity comes from a unique background. Although she was born in Switzerland and educated in the U.S., she holds British citizenship. She starred in her first movie, Five Senses of Eros, in 2009 and skyrocketed into fame after throwing a ceremonial first pitch in a Korean professional baseball game in form-fitting leggings.

Clara NEWSis(Photo courtesy of NEWSis)

Clara has also appeared in numerous music videos, such as Jay Park’s “Joah” and Tei’s “Same Pillow.” She currently has more than half a million followers on her Facebook page.

You can view MODE’s “100 Most Beautiful Women in the World 2014″ list here.