Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Group Presentation Guidelines

Begin forwarded message:

From: "Breaking Down Borders: Korea Fall 2009 Team" <koreandecal09@gmail.com>
Date: October 27, 2009 6:51:24 PM PDT
Subject: Group Presentation Guidelines

Hello Group 4!

The facilitators have discussed and agreed to have the groups follow this criterion when presenting.

-  Please do not simply copy and paste information onto slides.  Please take the time to take the information, analyze and organize it into a more presentable manner.
-  On a similar note, please do not merely read off a script.  Take the time to present to the class key points of observation and analysis drawn from the readings.  It will add more to our class discussion and understanding of your group's topic.  Engage the class with key facts, observations and analysis.
-  Please cite the texts that you used in your slides.
-  Take the time to meet with the facilitators during prep sessions.

We will be grading on a scale of one to five on the basis of this criterion. 
We believe by now, the class has seen what has and has not been effective when giving presentations, so please keep these considerations in mind. 

Otherwise, we really appreciate all the hard work everyone has put in so far!
-  The Facilitators

Breaking Down Borders: Korea

Sunday, October 25, 2009

[DeCal] Week 7: Update, Grading, Presentations, Guest Lecturer

Regarding grading, we have changed the policy of giving a single grade for the entire group as we believe this encourages people to put in the least possible amount of work (and punishes those that would otherwise work more). There's many different words for this phenomenon, but no matter how it's phrased; we don't like it and the system itself hurts the class. By the way, these are the continual improvements we see in this course as each semester progresses. I have been also been going over the past presentations and seeing as much of the work has not been cited, has made it difficult for me to follow and verify the veracity of the claims made in some of the presentations. You risk not receiving full credit if your work is NOT cited. Also, the name of the authors of each slide should be clearly marked. We see the presentations as being no less important than a midterm, a final examination, and term paper combined into one.

A Break From Presentations?
So, I've been hearing that perhaps, we should have a week without presentations, and the facilitators are making a conscious effort to schedule a guest lecturer. However, as it stands now, especially with the extended dead week this semester, we are currently against the idea of showing a documentary or video that you can otherwise watch at home (or at a LiNK event).

For example, please do see:
Welcome to North Korea Documentary

Thank you Matt Infald for the suggestion.

[Draft] Schizophrenic Han Part III: Language

I can report that the GRE is finally over (and unless a professor advises me to re-take the test, I feel that I will not take it over again). I have updated this posting and it is here.
After writing this post earlier in the morning and then coming back and re-reading it, I've realized that there's such a huge number of grammatical mistakes that I will be revising this shortly. Nonetheless, the point of this posting is to argue against this notion that North Korean is a more "Korean" or more "pure" form of the Korean Language. I would think a "perverted" form of the Korean Language is a more accurate description of the North Korean variant of the language.

Anyways, I will return to this shortly. There's just so much I want to talk about (there's still the embassy series of postings, the America the Dangerous series of postings, the Forming Views series of postings, and, of course, the Schizophrenic Han series of postings)...

I've been a bit preoccupied, reasons that I will share shortly. But, for those students that are re-entry students, perhaps you can emphatize with me; it's been a decade since I've taken a standardized test.

It's about time that people give up the idea that it's natural for the Koreas to remain divided by coming up with all types of false ideas. In the past, I've been very critical of the North-South States Period Theory that was first mentioned in the book, Samguk Yusa (a millenia after Silla had already unified the Peninsula), and which I point out has only become relevant now, as South Koreans try to come up any and all types of excuses to justify their inaction in both allowing a trying to come up with a unified Korean peninsula.

Well, this post is to attack this idea that somehow the North Korean government today is a legitimate government today as their variant of the Korean language is somehow more Korean. I'm pretty sure I saw this on Wikipedia at some point and if I do find it, perhaps, it's time I create a Wikipedia account and challenge that claim. To me, this claim purposely distorts history, so that mostly South Koreans can ease their feeling of collective or national guilt as they live their moderately wealthy lives and shrug aside the ongoing suffering being endured by the other half of the country.

I've always found the claim that the North Korean is a more Korean language to be preposterous and revisionist history at its worst, but a recent development (well, it's been a few weeks, but hey, I've been a little bit preoccupied) in North Korea has made me want to write about it. North Korea last month amended their constitution to eliminate the words "communist" and codified that Kim Jong Il is indeed not just the Dear Leader, but the "Supreme Leader" of the country. Also, Songun(Seongun, 선군), or the Military First policy, has become a governing doctrine or ideology of the country).

This is a short excerpt from (New North Korean Constitution Bolsters Kim's Powers)
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has officially made Kim Jong-il its “supreme leader” and his “military first” policy its guiding ideology, according to the text of the country’s newly revised Constitution made available on Monday.

Text of the New Constitution (PDF, In Korean)The Constitution also declared for the first time that North Korea “respects and protects” the “human rights” of its citizens, and expunged the term “communism” from its text (New York Times).
I've also added a copy of the new constitution in PDF form (in Korean, unfortunately) in the Selected Articles portion of the blog.

But, I find this development to be interesting on a couple fronts. In one sense, North Korea has officially given up the fantasy that there could actually be a worker's paradise in a Communist Kingdom -- a bigger oxymoron would be hard to find. So, in this sense, any shred of North Korea providing a better life than that in South Korea is something, which its people no longer believe. Now, let's discuss the remaining claim that North Korea is somehow more legitimate because it's more Korean (is it more Korean because North Koreans call themselves Joseon people rather than Hanguk people? Or, is it because they too have a three class caste system not unlike that of Silla's bone rank system. But, this can't be it either since North Korea seems to base their heritage from Goguryeo, a state that was Silla's rival). What about language?

A common claim is that the North Korean language is more "pure" or more "Korean" (perhaps synonyms for all Koreans) as North Korea made a systematic effort to eliminate loan words from the North Korean variant of the langauge and, the complete elimination of the teaching of Sino-Korean characters in North Korean schools -- for the most part (there was a law in North Korea that stated to re-introduce a few hundred Hanja characters in the North Korean curriculum, but hey, how seriously can this be taken considering there's a reference towards human rights in the North Korean constitution now. But, also on a tangent, with these same endowments how exactly was it possible that South Korea came to develop democratic institutions?)

People that support this seem to forget that the written Korean Language, Hanguel, only came to widespread usage after Korea lost its independence (so about a hundred years ago). Koreans traditionally like to claim that the nation began in 2333 BCE, so for about 4,200 years Koreans didn't really use Hangeul. Now, considering that all scholarly work was written using Sino-Korean characters either in modified form to fit the "Korean language" spoken at that time or simply, in literary, Classical Chinese up until very recently, eliminating loan words that constitute about 50%-70% of all the words in the Korean language doesn't make the language more Korean, but rather it butchers the language.

There's a couple ways to look at this. For example, Koreans trace back a common heritage to the (Early) Three Kingdoms Period as each Kingdom is seen to be a "Korean" kingdom in that the merger of the three kingdoms respective traditions, languages(yes), and, of course, people gave way to a common Korean heritage. While somewhat similar to how Koreans have strenuously argued that considering Goguryeo to be a minority Chinese Kingdom would be tantamount to stealing Korean heritage and distorting the Korean identity, I think the systematic eradication or elimination or alteration of 50% to 70% of all words in the Korean language is much, much worse than "losing Goguryeo." It not only distorts the "true identity" of the language, but you are basically erasing (or rather choosing to forget) 50%-70% of your identity. Koreans have for a long period of time proudly stated how they have learned much from the Chinese, perhaps the lessons of the Cultural Revolution in China should not be forgotten.

So rather than North Korean being a more a Korean language, it's more along the lines of North Korea being a perverse distortion of the Korean language. Imagine waking up one day and choosing not to use 50% to 70% of the words in your vocabulary (or at least fooling yourself into thinking that you are not using it), then what do you have left? Assuming you somehow retained the ability to still be able to speak and converse with other people, you'd be using the few remaining words in your now, much more limited vocabularly a lot, lot more. If people could understand what you were saying, they might even think you are crazy for doing so. Why Koreans in the south look at this favorably is so pecular and what makes Korea so interesting.

(But, oh, South Koreans are doing the same thing except, of course, on a much lesser scale. Why it's so important to have a Korean word for yellow radish is beyond me).

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) Event today

Sent from my iPhone

Begin forwarded message:

From: Min-Jae Chang <minxjae@gmail.com>
Date: October 20, 2009 3:05:39 PM PDT
To: "Breaking Down Borders: Korea Fall 2009 Team" <koreandecal09@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Group 6: New Members

Hi, i'm on the students, Min-Jae Chang

and I wanted to update you guys on a screening that is put on by LiNK, my friend sent this to me and I wanted to forward it to you so yes. Here it is, and if you want to send it to the class, that would be cool too. Thank you.

On Wednesday, 10/21 (tomorrow night!) LiNK Outreach:Bay Area will be
screening the documentary called "Seoul Train." This film follows a couple
of North Koreans as they try to escape the economic and political
hardships of their homeland into countries like China and Mongolia.

It's a really interesting, heart-breaking film. I highly recommend you
come out and watch it! Expand your horizons! Learn something new! Fight
for a good cause.

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you Wednesday night!

7 PM
2040 VLSB

Monday, October 12, 2009

[DeCal] Divergence in Institutions (South Korea)

Divergence in Institutions (South Korea)
Next week's readings are posted here:

In particular, we will be examining why and how the southern half of the Korean peninsula came to be a fairly wealthy, middle income country with democratic institutions." While we had initially planned for me to give this presentation solo (I saved this topic so that I could do the research), additional students that were either absent or unable to join the groups early on will be added to this group as well.

Straight from the syllabus:
Why is it that the southern half of the Korean peninsula came to be a fairly wealthy, middle income country with democratic institutions? How did this process happen? After all, Korea was for thousands of years a centralized bureaucratic monarchy (and then ruled by centralized bureaucratic colonial government) with no history of democracy? The presentation will heavily emphasize the development of economic institutions first that began in the early seventies. Policies conducive to sustained economic growth over the long run that took advantage of favorable endowments unique to South Korea (access to the U.S. market, U.S. oil regime) led to prosperity in the South. Democratic institutions also took hold, but took much longer with South Korea holding her first free and fair elections in 1987) (Syllabus).
An updated syllabus that shows the agenda in particular for the next three weeks is also available here.

Required Reading:

Supplemental Reading:

Dani Rodrik, Gene Grossman and Victor Norman
Economic Policy, Vol. 10, No. 20 (Apr., 1995), pp. 55-107

Chapter 4 (only the part under Political Dynamics)

Attendance Policy:
After consultation among the facilitators, we feel it would be prudent to excuse the first two weeks of absences, considering the large number of students that did enroll after class first began two weeks before the add/drop deadline passed.

Grading Policy:
Presentations will be given a score on a sliding scale from one to four. All students will receive the same group for each presentation. The reason we decided to go with this system is that there are a lot of other DeCals, especially for 2-units, where the facilitators just lecture for an hour or so and expect the students in class to come up with a 7 or 8 page term paper or a midterm or a final. Well, the purpose of a paper is no different than that of a presentation except that the findings on the part of those presenting can be shared with the entire class, whereas a paper is not as easily shareable. Similarly, a mid-term or final examination is more of a test to see if students have learned anything. It is along these lines in how we view group presentations - an opportunity for each and every student in the class to be able to research and contribute to the discussion of the entire class.

While, groups one and two only have had an opportunity to prepare one week in advance, the same is not true of that of other groups. So, from this point on, we will be expecting all material to be cited from all students giving presentations (Primary citations found on Wikipedia are ok, but presentations that sound like they are reading from the Wikipedia are not). Once again, the goal of presentations is to further a point and not to recite history for history's sake (or to take somebody else's interpretation for granted). Furthermore, presentations are expected to last from fourty-five minutes to one-hour.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

[DeCal] Week 4: Presentation, Discussion, Podcasts

We were very happy with the way that the presentations went though we would like to ask that data be sourced from now on on the bottom of the PowerPoint file. By the way, the PowerPoint file made by Group 1 is probably the best looking file I've seen in the five semesters that I've been involved with this decal. And, for the first time, the class can be followed as if you were actually here, I have put up podcasts of the presentation on the left hand side of this site (Yes, I can see the theme of the mp3 player does not fit in with the rest of the site. It's just temporary, but I did want to give an idea of how presentations should be done. The goal of each presentation is to further a point and not to read history). You will find two files, the file labelled by A is an audio recording of the presentation given by Group 1 up until the break.

The second file, labelled B, is a recording of the discussion after the first hour and after having discussed various aspects of the presentation in small groups. Each of the eight groups, led by a member of the presenting group, discussed the material that the respective member of the presenting group presented on.

The picture on the left is after break, where we have the eight groups discussing the subject material.
Regarding Group 2's presentation, the facilitators have committed to making themselves available this coing Sunday at 7pm again at the Free Speech Movement Cafe to both assist in the presentations and to answer any general questions. Or... to just continue the discussion of the class.

Note: As to what school former South Korean Leader Rhee Syng Man attended, it seems he went to both Harvard and Princeton. According to Wikipedia, "He obtained several degrees (including an B.A. from George Washington University, Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Princeton University)."

Monday, October 5, 2009

Forming Views on Korea, Part V: My family during Japanese rule.

So, finally, I've finally been able to take a world history course (The World Economy in the Twentieth Century or UC Berkeley's Econ 115). And, I blame this on myself, of course. I highly recommend that when you consider a double major, especially as a transfer student, to really consider if it's what you want to do. I've been unable to take many of the courses I might want to take, such as a history course, because of the requirements to complete both majors.

Anyways, I had a really interesting assignment for this class recently, where I was asked to write a short essay about where my family was from 1914-1945. And, I discovered a few things that I'd like to share and fits in perfectly with the discussion on how Koreans fared during the Japanese period.

You see, it seems to be the case that since all we ever hear about the colonial period is of how the Japanese drafted comfort women, moved around Korean laborers, and the like that we don't hear some of the benefits that were given to Koreans during this period (yes, I risk being shot here with these statements) to not people that were actually Japanese collaborators, but more so people who loved Korea, but where they found themselves to be born into a society where if they wanted to live a normal life like raising a family and such that they had to actually speak Japanese and learn Japanese (I can recall a conversation my mom had with her friends, where one of her friends said, "you remember when we were all young and our parents would start speaking in Japanese, and we'd have no idea what they were talking about..." This was a conversation in Korea by the way a few years back).

My claim is that Koreans are still unable to acknowledge that it was natural for some people to have benefitted under Japanese rule and that these people still loved Korea and the like (I'm thinking more along the lines of a Park Chung Hee than the founders of either Dong-a-Ilbo or Samsung), but the opportunities they had in life only existed if they accepted that Korea was for the time being a Japanese colony and that they realistically couldn't do a single thing about it. And, more so, and this is a claim purely along the lines of the early revisionists, such as Bruce Cumings, but it's really a matter of fact that when Korea became a Japanese colony, it opened up opportunities for Koreans that never existed before. It's this fact that these opportunities existed amidst the reality of a Japan trying to destroy Korean identity and alongsidethe widespread suffering of Koreans that makes this so difficult for Koreans to acknowledge. But, you have to understand that many during that period in time, including Koreans, believed Koreans were just incapable of self-rule (just think of how the Sino-Japanese War came about).

Anyways, I just found out that my grandfather served as one of the first senators before the National Assembly was built in Yeoido (when it was at the Blue House) when Rhee Syng Man came to power. And, I think his story or part of my story (as being the first son on my father's side) highlights #1) not all Koreans were hurt during the colonial period... #2)how this is still unable to be fully debated when Korea has not yet been unified.

(And, there's actually a typo here... It should say that Rhee Syng Man's administration faced constant questions of legitmacy not opportunities).

(I'm trying this embedded pdf thing for the first time, so if it doesn't work):

Click here:

[DeCal] Korea as a Japanese Colony, Reading

Our conversation this week will be moving into how Korea (Joseon) was under a Japanese colony.

Group 1 will be presenting. And, I'm very excited about how their presentation is looking.

Objective: To try and take a fair and balanced look at how Korean (Joseon) society developed under Japanese colonial rule and its implications.

Required Readings for this Week:
From the Library of Congress:

A Country Study: South Korea

This is an online book and I believe the link might not be permanent, so if that happens to be the case just google it and read the following:

■Chapter 2 - The Society and Its Environment by Donald M. Seekins.
Specifically, "Cultural Identity," "Korea and Japan," and "the Korean Language" (Though all of Ch. 2 is required reading).

Recommended Readings for this Week:

Korea's Place in the Sun, Chapter 3 ("Eclipse" 1905-1945)
The Origins of the Korean War, Chapter 1 (Class and State in Colonial Korea)

Readings for Next Week:
Korea's Place in the Sun, Chapter 4 ("The Passions", 1945-1948), Chapter 5(Just the last paragraph in this chapter"Collision," 1948-1953). Note: We will be skipping most aspects of the Korean War except to mention that it was largely a civil war, highlight the extent of its destructiveness, and what was gained, if anything, from the war from the perspectives of the countries involved.

The Origins of the Korean War, Chapter 5("Forging a New Order: The Entry of American Forces and Policies Toward the Bureaucracy, the Police, and the Military), Chapter 6(only the part, "Policies Toward Land and Rice," 201-9).

Thursday, October 1, 2009

[DeCal] Presentations, Units

Next week will mark the first week of presentations. We understand that asking for an hour long presentation is something that takes quite a bit of effort as is reflected in the course grade(30% of your grade). And, I'm putting this up as a reminder to not get started too late. Each and every student in the group will be expected to talk.

Furthermore, facilitators will make themselves available to meet at 7pm on Sundays at the FSM Cafe to help out on the presentations. Joseph and Amanda have committed to being there each week and John will also be there to help beginning the following Sunday, where we hope to meet with any of the groups that would like to prepare for their presentation. We also highly recommend that when preparing for the presentation that all recommended reading actually be read; an hour is a long time.

This is a 2-unit course.

If you enrolled for one unit:

This is the policy as is written on http://decal.org/1173

You can take it for one unit, if you'd like, but this would still mean that you'd be responsible for all the material as if you were taking it for two units. In other words, you wouldn't be able to just come to the first hour and then say, "Oh. It's 7pm. Time for me to head out. I'm only taking it for a unit." This is basically for those that are concerned about a unit cap, but still need 13 units to be considered a full-time student.

If you enrolled for three units,
You need to do a "reatroactive petition to change the variable units from 3 to 2." The paperwork can be found from L&S; otherwise, you "risk receiving a No Pass grade."