Oh hey there, loyal Readers. I’m now starting my career as a writer (fingers crossed) in California. So, with new beginnings come new looks and blogs. It took me quite a while to move everything over to a new more slick design, but now I live over at The Caffeinated Sloth. I hope you enjoy my writing and will continue to follow me over there.
I suppose the need to find hundreds of stock photos wears heavy on the soul. Not every picture can be a topical, helpful, visual representation of the lesson. This series of posts will be about the many deeply inappropriate pictures used in the text books we teach from. The following is from an article on the dangers of junk food and obesity.
This picture should erase any doubts that gingers are soulless monsters. I am not sure what message this is supposed to send about overeating. That high fructose corn syrup will rob your of your soul? That junk food will turn you into a pastry vampire who must feed nightly on the jelly filling of virgin donuts? Or perhaps that a little bit of wet nap goes a long ways.
Whatever the lesson, I cant stop staring into her eyes. They penetrate my soul.
After reading and watching a lot of American media, talking to family from back in the states, and hearing similar stories from other foreign teachers, it seems that Americans are very worried about the most recent bout of North Korean aggression. While ‘Americans afraid of foreign dictator’ is nothing more than a dog-bites-man story, what is curious is that South Koreans aren’t half as worried about North Korea. Korean media is not nearly as apocalyptic as US media. The South Koreans I have talked to aren’t especially worried either. While I am far from an expert on Korean culture or politics, I’d like to offer my opinion on why the US and South Korea have such different reactions.
First, this is an enemy the South Koreans actually have to deal with, live with, and someday even reunite with. This foe is not like the ones Americans are used to facing; half a world away and easy to otherize. There are still many families with relatives trapped on the other side of the DMZ. Despite the evils of the Kim family, many South Koreans hope to reunite the two Koreas into a single country again. This goal will not be served by making North Korea into an abstract, implacable, and faceless enemy that can only be destroyed and never reasoned with. When your enemy is on your doorstep and your goals are something other than utter destruction or exploitation, fear mongering is counter productive. South Korea is more determined than anyone to eliminate the threat that is North Korea. Fortunately, they realize that eliminating an enemy doesn’t always mean bombing them into oblivion.
Second, fear and war mongering seem to come all too easy to the American media. While the reasons for this are far too numerous to explore in this format, the claim should be obvious enough. If you were to ask the average American which foreign leaders they had heard of, they would almost entirely be dictators deemed enemies of America. Names like Hussein, Kim, Chavez, or Putin are household names. I wonder how many Americans know the same of the presidents of Canada, France, Mexico, or the Prime Minister of the UK? Whether it is in service of broader US foreign policy goals or because fear and doom-saying make for good ratings, The US media seems very adept at making Americans afraid of foreign threats. Telling a nuanced story about North Korea, its goals and methods, and its relationship with South Korea doesn’t make much money.
I think it is telling that those with most to lose (and most to gain) from a conflict with North Korea are significantly less fearful or bellicose than the US. So sleep well knowing that your friends and family in Korea are in much less danger than you probably think they are.
The context for this picture is that students had to write an argument for why it is beneficial to pay children for doing chores. This particular student thought that paying students an allowance would help them learn about money. Not a bad argument. His evidence, however, is quite suspect.
It almost gives me hope that anti-Semitism is so universal. If Jewish stereotypes can spread to 12 year olds in a country with basically zero Jewish population then…perhaps…we aren’t so different after all. Maybe East and West are more similar than we think. Maybe we can all just get along (except…you know…the Jews).
Oh wow, it looks like I almost failed to get up a post again this week. I wish I had a good excuse, but I’m afraid it’s more of a perfect cocktail of laziness, sickness, and video games. However, since I have so utterly failed you, I will instead highlight another blog today. There is a blog called kikinitinkorea, here is just some of what it provides:
http://kikinitinkorea.tumblr.com/ : Just so you know, every single one of these is as equally funny as they are completely true for a foreigner living in Korea.
Enjoy. The next post will be in 2 weeks as I am heading back to America for my sister’s wedding. Woohoo for real beer! Woohoo for great coffee! Woohoo for sisters!