Week 9: Subway Seats

In most countries, it is considered that pregnant women should be cared for, especially in public transit. With their burgeoning belly, it is hard for them to secure a balance in wavering subway or bus. Even the women whose pregnancy is in its early periods should take a seat because of morning sickness. However, in Korea, pregnant women are merely another passerby in subway and buses. Not because it is rare when people willingly give up their seats for pregnant women, but the priority seats are de-facto exclusively for the elderly. It is revealed from the article that pregnant women avoid taking public transit in fear that they might be humiliated by the senior citizens if they sit at priority seats. According to an anonymous internet post that has once stoked fury from younger population, when a woman is sitting in priority seat and it is evident that she is pregnant, the older people do not verbally criticize her. They rather try to shoo her away from their privileged seats by deliberately trampling on her shoes or pinching her arm, because they know that it is a shame for them to cast slurs at pregnant women. It is an abominable behavior, as some of the so-called elderly have shown. There are many other elders whom we should respect, but the misdemeanor of some of them have roused severe social problem.

The solution the government came up with is a knee-jerk solution for rousing concerns. Recently the government set up priority seats for pregnant women, colored pink. It is written in bold letters that the seats are for women bearing a child, most of the time people who are clearly not pregnant, such as men or older women past menopause, are occupying these seats. The fact that it is hard to spot a pregnant woman in transit because they are clearly avoiding the hassle of commuting with other nonchalant passersby would have contributed to the uselessness of the solution. However, being a cultural dilemma masquerading as a social one, it is hard to remedy the phenomena by a social measure. A more fundamental solution to shift the general perception on pregnancy is needed.

Week 7: Academic Fraud

As shown in the article, there were some fraud scandals in academic credentials since Shin Jeong-ah. After the infamous art history professor’s demise, the student from the article is the next scandal that has been around for some time although it was not as shocking as Shin’s case.

Most of the people who furiously responded to Kim, the student, were relatively young, the main users of social media platforms. There were more than ten thousands of comments on Facebook when a page posted the URL of the news about Kim’s overly outstanding achievement. There were many envying comments, and some were skeptical of her credentials even before the whole lie unraveled. The younger generation has gone on a practical witch hunt when Stanford and Harvard officially announced that they do not have a joint program that Kim mentioned. As much as people value academic achievement as a defining factor of social status, they respond to fabrications more fiercely compared to other scandals.

Kim is not the only one who should take the blame for her lies. Although it is not clear whether her father knew the truth or not, it is highly likely that he acknowledged the fact by the time he went on to media to brag about his daughter. He would have gained some, maybe not a lot, of money out of those TV shows, and he should also be responsible for the scandal.

The lies that Kim built up were so absurd that she became “the scarlet letter” for academic fabrications, but there are some cases that are not uncovered around the society. For instance, there was an internet post claiming that there would be no person who is more of a waste than himself. The post goes on that he has been cheating his parents that he got accepted to a university although he was rejected from all the universities that he applied. He made a fake account and told his mother to transfer money in there. He searched for schedules from the college website and made her believe that he is attending all the events and even got her to send some money for these events. He got away with this and bragged that he will post again if he succeeded the next time, which was the spring semester of 2015. There was not another post from him, but it is not clear whether he failed. There is a possibility that he decided not to write again because every comment called him with names that he definitely would not enjoy. The scandal with Kim was a big one, but there possibly are many other people who are worse than Kim, as the one illustrated above.

Week 6: Cram School Rebuttal

While I agree with your main point that the government should be more active in banning private educatuon to suppress severe competition, I would like to clarify one of your points. You mentioned that parents should believe that their siblings will study by themselves. It is an ideal situation and all will go better if all students can study by themselves, but not all of them can be like that. In your essay, the example you gave was your own experience on studying alone. I think this weakens your main position, and it will be better if you could put some more objective supports and examples in the essay. Also, I think you could change your thesis because the point you elaborated on mostly on respecting students’ own choices is somehow disconnected from the main topic related to government and legislations.

Week 6: Cram school

The term sekki hakwon feels foreign to the ears of a person who have lived all her life in Korea. However, even though it has not been long since sekki hakwons started showing, private institutions in Korea have been teaching children ahead of the standard curriculum. Not only in daechi-dong, but in less affluent, suburban places like Nowon-gu. There was a hakwon called Newstudy which taught mathematics. The students learned math three years in advance of their grades. Even though there was no sekki hakwons, some of these students had private tutoring in order to catch up with the curriculum of Newstudy. This means that even though sekki hakwons only exist in daechi-dong for now, there have been many others who have gotten the same type of service sekki hakwons provide.

The fact that many of the so-called elite or prestigious private institutions are centered in Daechi-dong does not prove that these students have higher chances of getting into prestigious universities, and in turn, be more successful in life. It is true that they may have tutors like Robert Langdon (and most of these star tutors provide online courses), it does not mean that the students are more intelligent and able to keep up with such advanced classes. Since most students do not understand but memorize the things hakwons cram into their brains, they have to take the course again when they reach high school because they cannot get higher scores in CSAT compared to others. Of course there are students who does not have to repeat, but there are always the selected few who excel in everything even when they have equal chances in education. Indeed, even in HUFS, relatively well-respected compared to most of the other universities in Korea, there are more students who have not attended classes in hakwons in Daechi-dong. Except those who cannot pay for their food in school, there are pretty much equal chances for average Korean students. It is more likely to be the matter of effort, rather than money.

Short-term Prospect of Refugee Crisis in Europe

The tragic death of Aylan Kurdi shed lights on the lives of refugees taking risks and fleeing their countries in hopes of finding a better life in Europe. The cold body of the three-year-old has opened hearts of millions of people around the word, even the one of the British Prime Minister David Cameron who was famous for his skepticism and reluctance toward accepting refugees in the United Kingdom. Many European countries have declared that they will welcome more refugees in their territory. As heartbreaking are the lives of the refugees back home, it is not clear whether their lives will get better even after they settle in Europe. Due to overpopulation, political fracture and human rights abuse, Europe is likely to go through a struggle for short period of time in the future with unending wave of migrants flowing in.

Around the globe, the number of people displaced from their home countries due to conflict is highest ever in record. According to N. Lindborg (2015), it is roughly between 58 to 60 million, which is equal to the total population of Italy. The numbers in this figure are include people from Syria and Iraq, while vast flow of population is expected to flow into Europe from places other than these two countries also. Currently, developing countries that are hosting the majority of refugees from Syria are Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The estimated number of refugees staying in these countries was 3.6 million and more are expected to come. Also, one in four people is a Syrian refugee in Lebanon and in Irbil, the northern part of Iraq, one in five people are either a Syrian refugee or a displaced Iraqi from ISIS violence. Since the international humanitarian funding cannot support the vast amount of population, the conditions of overcrowded make-shift shelters are squalid.

In this Saturday, July 25, 2015 photo, a Syrian refugee girl fills water from a tanker to her tent at an informal tented settlement near the Syrian border on the outskirts of Mafraq, Jordan. Aid agencies asked for $4.5 billion for 2015 to help refugees, but have been forced to slash support programs because of large funding gaps. Thatís had a devastating effect on the amount of food aid coming. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)

Figure 1. A syrian refugee girl fills water from a tanker to her tent on the outskirts of Marfraq (Muheisen, 2015).

      Such refugee camps now have been lying empty as most Syrians started to move into other parts of Middle East or Europe in hopes of finding a better life. The size of the once fourth largest Syrian refugee camp has shrunk to almost one third of its former size. Once the population torrent sweeps across Europe, it is likely that some problems regarding overpopulation will arise. Since most of European countries are suffering low birth rate and aging population, it might be seem as a way to boost population growth. However, the biggest problem of population growth arises from fixed supply of land. Unnatural population growth is likely to cause a steep surge in property and housing prices in a country. According to the report on the impact of immigration from the UK House of Lords, most of the immigrants tend to demand smaller housing compared to that of average native citizen, but in the long run when the migrants settle into the society successfully with a job, their housing demands would be equivalent to that of the native population. Then, there is a possibility that already heightened housing prices will skyrocket due to increased demand in the long run.

MigrantMap

Figure 2. Europe’s Migrant Crisis (Reuters, 2015).

Migrants who have arrived with hopes of having a better life are not welcome in most European states, and the EU has to strain toward reaching a consensus on refugee crisis. Following the Greek debt crisis, national interests have consistently been the decisive, overriding factors among Europe to recent migrant influx. Such trend is most obvious in the regions where they accept most of the migrants in Eastern and Southern Europe. Unfortunately, most migrants would have to arrive in one of those nations that are harsh toward migrant for these countries are situated in the Mediterranean or the easternmost side of the Union. J. Park (2015) mentions

In Italy, illegal migrants face punishments under Bossi-Fini immigration law which stipulates that migrants must secure contracts before entering the country. This law makes illegal migration and aiding migrants punishable by fine or jail. In Greece, the prolonged detention of migrants and asylum seekers are sometimes mixed in with criminal detainees. In Hungary, a new series of emergency laws adopted in September 2015 will allow its police to operate detention centers, in addition to making illegal border crossings and aiding migrants punishable by prison time. (2015).

Most countries have not adopted the laws that have physical effects as stated above, yet many other nations have followed the precedents, and have showed signs of concern for taking in refugees, or even implemented laws to selectively accept refugees by their religions. Council of Foreign Relations (2015) also mentions,

Countries like France and Denmark have also cited security concerns as justification for their reluctance in accepting migrants from the Middle East and North Africa, particularly in the wake of the Paris and Copenhagen terrorist shootings in early 2015. Underscoring this point, leaders of eastern European states like Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic have all recently expressed a strong preference for non-muslim migrants. In August 2015, Slovakia announced that it would only accept Christian refugees from Syria. Poland has similarly focused ongranting Syrian Christian asylum, and have publicly announced that the applicants’ religious background will have an impact on their refugee status applications. (2015).

Although selecting migrants based on religion is a clear violation of the EU’s non-discrimination laws, these countries have maintained their positions or policies by urging their native population’s discomfort with growing Muslim communities. Opposed to these responses, Germany is trying to accept more immigrants and pull some strings to reach the balance in the issue.

The founding principles and values of European Union are human dignity, liberty, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities. One of the reason why some affluent western European states are trying to open doors for refugees is to adhere to their core founding values. However, current conditions of refugees in the largest camps are inhumane. In the case of Hungary, they were accused of treating refugees like “animals in zoos” or like “cattle in pen,” throwing breads and food over the fence where refugees are situated. They did not provide medical assistance to those with heart attacks, insulin shock, seizures and the newborns with serious fever. Human Rights Watch (2015), Rawan Ati, a refugee in the center, told in an interview,

When we crossed into Hungary the police sent us to a camp that was very dirty, like a place for animals. It was a closed camp and the conditions were horrible. When people tried to escape they were brought back. We slept for two days outside on towels. Nobody made special arrangements for the baby, they gave us no milk and treated us very badly. They talked to us rudely, and they treated us very inhumanely, like we were slaves. (2015).

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/tv/embed/15604

Figure 3. Hungary Refugee Camp Like ‘Cattle in Pens’. (International Business Times, 2015).

The conditions in Greece is not different. Even though it has been a while since they have set up refugee camps in Lesbos, there are not enough infrastructure that can support existing, more or less growing population of migrants. A Greece specialist E. Cosse (2015). mentioned,

After months with huge numbers of people arriving in Lesbos, the authorities still don’t have an effective system for registering people so that they can travel onward. This is causing unnecessary security problems for the police and hardship for asylum seekers and migrants, especially for women and children and people with disabilities who can’t force their way to the head of the registration line … It is appalling to see children with medical conditions and disabilities lying in the dirt as flies buzz around their eyes. The authorities should coordinate with humanitarian groups to ensure that people with particular needs are identified quickly and ensured access to the registration process and unhindered access to doctors. (2015).

With the nationalist Hungarian Prime Minister initiating nation-wide anti-immigrant campaigns, it is hard to tell when the refugee crisis and disagreements between national leaders will subside. However, it is certain that with such appalling incidents happening onward, it is impossible for the union to move forward from the chain of crisis that has hit Europe.

The migrants are facing dire conditions in Europe, or in a passage to get to Europe. Europe, still in a strife to reach a harmonious way to resolve the situation, is likely to suffer from some problems such as overpopulation, political fracture and human rights abuse for short period of time in the future. This writing is limited to the short-term effects of current problems of migrant crisis. The effect of massive migration on overpopulation in Europe was dealt with lightly in the writing, but could be researched in-depth in the future. The sketch of the conditions the refugees are under described in the writing could inspire the readers to contemplate on the issue once again and work on to make a better world where a toddler do not drown helplessly while finding hope.

Bibliography

  1. Bajekal, N. (2015). Inside the Syria Refugee Camps Where Childhood Doesn’t Exist. Retrieved October 17, 2015 from http://time.com/3987244/syrian-refugees-mafraq-jordan/
  2. House of Lords – Select Committee on Economic Affairs. (2008) The Economic Impact of Immigration: 1st Report of Session 2007-08. Retrieved October 10, 2015 from https://books.google.co.kr/books?id=1dhHkoNcZosC&pg=PA53&dq=economic+impact+of+refugees+in+Europe&hl=ko&sa=X&ved=0CCQQ6AEwAWoVChMIsoLM7b23yAIVxtumCh1JYwVS
  3. Human Rights Watch. (2015). Greece: Chaos, Insecurity in Registration Center. Retrieved October 17, 2015 from https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/10/12/greece-chaos-insecurity-registration-center
  4. Human Rights Watch. (2015). Hungary: Abysmal Conditions in Border Detention. Retrieved October 17, 2015 from https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/09/11/hungary-abysmal-conditions-border-detention
  5. International Buisness Times. (2015). Hungary Refugee Camp Like ‘Cattle in Pens’. Retrieved from http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/eu-migrant-crisis-hungary-refugee-camp-like-cattle-pens-video-reveals-1519383
  6. Lindborg, N. (2015). The Migrant Crisis in Europe. Retrieved October 17, 2015 from http://www.cfr.org/migration/migrant-crisis-europe/p37028
  7. Muheisen, M. (2015). A syrian refugee girl fills water from a tanker to her tent on the outskirts of Marfraq. Retrieved from http://time.com/3987244/syrian-refugees-mafraq-jordan/
  8. Park, J. (2015). Europe’s Migration Crisis. Retrieved October 17, 2015 from http://www.cfr.org/migration/europes-migration-crisis/p32874
  9. Reuters. (2015).  Europe’s Migrant Crisis. Retrieved October 17, 2015 from http://www.cfr.org/migration/europes-migration-crisis/p32874
  10. Rothman, L. (2015). The U.N.’s Original Refugees. Retrieved October 10, 2015 from http://time.com/4022123/refugee-history-migrant-crisis/

Week 5: Conclusions

As grim as the reality of migrants look in their journey to the other continent in hopes that they will find a true home, the life after settlement plan would not be less harsh than it was before. It is true that they escaped death, or extreme starvation, but their hopes of finding a life of a human may not likely if such people flood into other continent.

Week 5: Completed Supporting Ideas

The affluent member countries of European Union have long been accepting job-seeking migrants from Eastern Europe. Not all of these migrants move to Europe after following legal procedures, and thus both the migrants and native workers are suffering from unemployment. For instance, in the case of France, the leader of the EU, its unemployment rate is lingers high with 10.2 percent. Even considering the fact that France is not warm toward foreign ethnic groups in its society, the unemployment rates of native-born French people and non-EU born workers vary significantly with 8.6 percent and 18.9 percent respectively.

It is easy to assume that economic difficulty is connected with the migrants’ ethnicity. The conflict is not only between the native EU people and migrants. Such tendency could be seen between migrant groups. Recently the EU started welcoming Syrians while thousands of African asylum seekers are left on the borders to suffer from poverty that they have fled taking risks.

Lastly, the ethnicity is one of the biggest problems. In France, there already is existing conflict between the immigrants and the native people. According to a research, it was found out that while unemployment of overall population was high, the unemployment of the migrants turned out to be more than 10 percent higher than that of native French. Such problems between people within a nation could arise if deep-rooted problems in Africa or Middle East are not eliminated.