School Life in South Korea and Finland

South Korea and Finland – what a stark contrast in school life.

Student life in South Korea: cram school till midnight, four hours of sleep are the norm, school attendance in high school till 10pm, high cost of cram school education, study for exams only, pressure to get into a top-notch university, etc.

Finnish students have a 20-work school week. This allows them to spend this extra time outside of school to do practical things:  meeting friends, spending time with family, having time to earn some money on the side, reading for pleasure, etc.

대한민국 and World Cup 2010

A personal message:

As I look out the window, I see German flags draped over balconies for tomorrow’s game.

Our own balcony hosts the Korean flag for today’s game South Korea – Greece.

To all my Korean friends – I will be rooting for your team. Now, where is my red shirt…

대한민국

South Korea’s Newest Commodity: Hangul

Hangul (한글) is not a product, but a language getting exported from now on. Hangul, the Korean alphabet, has long been the underdog in regards to foreign language teaching and learning.

Based on an article in the New York Times, this perception is about to change with the help of an affluent Korean woman, Lee Ki-nam. Her mission is to bring education with the help of establishing a written language (in this case, Hangul) to less fortunate people in Indonesia.

Tribes, such as the Cia-Cia ethnic minority in Baubau, have already sent a teacher to Seoul to learn all about Hangul and now he is teaching his local language, with the help of Hangul writing, to 50 third graders in his native village.

Opponents claim other countries might then want to bring their language writing too. This I really doubt. Learning Chinese is way too complex and time-consuming (my son is studying Mandarin), Japanese consists of three different writing scripts – Kanji, Hiragana, Katakana (I studied Japanese for two years while living there for three years). I have also learned to read and write the Korean alphabet, which is truly a simplified version, when compared to the other two.

Hangul was promulgated by King Sejong in 1446, who wanted to enable the lower classes some form of education. Up until then only the elite had the luxury to read Chinese literature, but nothing in the Korean sound.

In an era of globalization, Mrs. Lee’s efforts would be called philanthropic, if she exported the dominating Roman letters. Her efforts in spreading the Korean writing style are sadly not appreciated enough yet.

I will support her Hangul project and… I have to get back to my Korean study book now. 안녕!

For more information on study books:

Integrated Korean: Beginning Level in Germany
Read & Speak Korean for Beginners (Book w/Audio CD): The Easiest Way to Communicate Right Away! U.K.
Integrated Korean: Beginning Level U.S.A.