Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Some thoughts on La La Land: Dream, Love and Freedom

 When I asked what the movie "La La Land" was like, most of my friends said that they didn't like the ending so much. They said that it was very disappointing. I finally watched the movie a few days ago, and decided that I liked not only the ending but every single part of the movie.

Dream and Love.

I believe that if the ending was different, the movie would have lost its meaning. If Mia and Seb had gotten together and lived happily ever after, the movie would have been nothing but a beautifully depicted love story. Mia and Seb did not think that being together was everything of love. They believed that even though they might get apart, they would be happy enough to imagine each other achieve their dream and live a good life. I think that is true love - when people care more about the happiness of each other than the fact that they are in a "relationship".

la la land mia and seb에 대한 이미지 검색결과


Scent of freedom.

Another thing I liked about the movie is that I could sense freedom melted into it in every way. The first scene was totally awesome, when different people wearing bright colors came rushing out of cars during a traffic jam. A traffic jam - how annoying and boring it can be! But I think I wouldn't be irritated anymore caught up in a line of cars because I know that the people driving them each have souls that sometimes wish to sing freely in the middle of the traffic.

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My favorite part of "Another day of Sun"!

Climb these hills
I'm reaching for the heights
And chasing all the lights that shine 

The song gives me such energy that I suddenly believe I might be able to overcome any kind of challenge I get to face. And I will!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Essay after U.S. trip: The World of Colors

I went on a school "Vision Trip" to the U.S. and wrote a short essay about the things I felt.

The World of Colors

Before the Vision Trip, the United States seemed like a vast and deep ocean to me; a place where I could easily drown if I did not do my best to keep myself floating. I had spoken the language of that country for more than ten years, and still the U.S. had merely been an abstract and unknown place for me. As I spent night after night in the U.S., I slowly got the idea of diversity, noticing how different everything was from what I had been used to. The trip was definitely more than meaningful.
 The biggest thing I learned in the Vision Trip came from the difference I noticed between Americans and Koreans. It was unfamiliar but actually pleasant. Whenever I entered a store and bought something, the cashier would say “Good day,” or even “How are you doing?” At first, it was kind of awkward to start a conversation with someone I had just met because cashiers in Korea never said such a thing. Give them the right amount of money, and they would just let me go, sometimes managing to say a short goodbye. However, in the U.S., not only cashiers, but almost every stranger I came across talked to me nicely without hesitation. Later on, when I arrived at the airport, I became the one who first said hello to the staff. The power of smiling and engaging someone in a friendly conversation was unbelievably strong.
 Walking on the streets of New York was such a wonder. New York was definitely not clean, and it smelled of cigarettes and cars, but the city itself somehow seemed to exude a ‘colorful’ aura. Each person passing by had different hair, skin color, and expression. The music that was played here and there on the streets were from different countries, but fit in perfectly well to the city. Being in the middle of so many people in one of the most populated cities on Earth, I suddenly felt small. At the same moment, I felt like an important piece of puzzle that made up a part of New York. Everyone mattered because they were just there, no matter who they were and where they were from.
 The Vision Trip erased the abstract idea of the United States from my mind. Instead, it was replaced with a fresh sense of what it is like to stand among people who are peculiar in each way. I learned the beauty of diversity and awkwardness – how an “unbalanced” world is wonderful in a way.


*Just in case: Koreans are actually very friendly - I think they are just not as friendly to strangers, maybe.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Essay: Students should be required to complete community service hours in order to graduate

In many schools, students are required to complete a certain number of community service hours in order to graduate. Some people think students benefit from mandatory service. Others disagree. In your opinion, should schools require students to complete community service?

The word mandatory community service gives us a rather compulsory sense. In todays society, which is filled with all sorts of regulations, we usually dislike doing things that are forced upon us. Required community service is one of them. However, it presents students unusual experiences that teach them in a way far from that of ordinary school textbooks.

관련 이미지

 The experience of community service impacts the students in many positive ways. If you are not a fish, how do you know if the fish is happy? This is an old Chinese saying that describes how hard it is to stand in someone elses shoes. Students can become fish by doing community service and can learn in depth about ones who live in entirely different environments. They also get a chance to look at the world in another perspective by facing new situations. As a result, students grow into more mature beings and develop tolerant attitudes toward the members of society. Doing community service also works as a fine energizer for teenagers, who are likely to be in tough situations, either because of puberty or school problems. Helping others and feeling love for them can relieve the students stress and let their minds be in a peaceful state.

 Required community services not only benefit the students but also contribute to the future world. In many cases, people do not participate in volunteer work because they are not sure how to do it. I did not know about the procedures needed for community service until I was required to do it in middle school. Now I can participate in community service easily because of my previous experiences. This example clearly supports the fact that mandatory community service teaches students how to continue volunteering even when it is not required anymore. There are going to be people who do not find the act so exciting and decide not to be involved in it again. Still, there would be some who learn the spirit of generosity and continue to volunteer afterward, building up a healthier community. 

healthy community에 대한 이미지 검색결과

 In modern society, we consider time as a valuable and powerful source. Some believe that mandatory community service forces students to use up their time on other activities when there are so many tasks to focus on. However, students spend their time on learning the idea of critical values when volunteering. Required community service should not be considered as a waste of time but a significant opportunity that benefits both the teenagers and the future society.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

TOEFL essay(independent): Schools should focus more on science and mathematics than on humanities courses

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement? Schools should focus more on science and mathematics than on humanities courses. Give specific reasons and examples to support your answer.
   A lot of countries around the world believe that they need more science or mathematics experts to boost the economy. In fact, some governments are so concerned that they give financial and employment benefits to students who major in science-related fields. This is causing students to switch their majors from linguistics and philosophy to engineering or mathematics. As a result, the humanities courses are dying, which is taking away opportunities for us to think about who we are. Therefore, schools should not only focus on science or mathematics but also treat humanities courses as an important part of learning.
science and humanities에 대한 이미지 검색결과   To start with, the study of humanities is a crucial factor in learning. Language arts gives students the ability to read and write properly, history presents successes and failures to learn from, and philosophy provides an opportunity to think deeply. Learning subjects in the humanities helps students use their science and mathematics skills for the right purposes in the future. In the past, the use of technology in war has produced destructive weapons that have resulted in millions dying. By focusing on the sciences, we lose the balance the humanities bring to learning. Students must grow up to be people who have keen perceptions so humanity will not repeat historical mistakes.
   Secondly, humanities courses can teach students about variety and difference. Answers in science and mathematics are always black or white while solutions in the humanities have various shades of gray. If schools focus too much on science and mathematics, they can unintentionally make students divide the world into only right and wrong. Whereas writing a literary analysis encourages students to express unique opinions. Students who know how to embrace different kinds of thoughts would grow up into adults who are more tolerant of others.
   Finally, students have the right to focus on subjects that make them feel passionate. No matter how much society values science and mathematics experts, students should be given a variety of subjects to choose from and not have their horizons limited. Also, if schools give benefits to students who study in science-related disciplines, some students might choose those subjects simply for the advantage. This can easily lead them to future regrets, and in the worst case prohibit them from living up to their true potential.
   To conclude, many schools concentrate their attention on teaching students science-related subjects to make them enter prestigious schools or simply to raise their employment rate. However, too much focus on science and math makes more and more students choose to study subjects for which they have no passion. This only takes away the joy that comes from learning.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Hangul, the wonderful invention of King Sejong

   One of the greatest Korean inventions ever is definitely Hangul, the Korean alphabet. "Hangul Day" is celebrated every year on October 9th, which is assumed to be closest to the date when Hangeul was finished in 1446.
*Hangul might be more familiar, but Hangeul is the right spelling according to the current Romanization system. View Korea Times article: Use Hangeul, Not Hangul 
*Note that Hangul is used in this post to help the readers' understanding.
Image result for 세종대왕 상반신
King Sejong the Great
   Hangul was created by King Sejong. In 15th century Korea, only elites could read and write, using complicated Chinese characters. King Sejong made a whole new writing system to let ordinary people easily express their thoughts. Quite a few scholars disagreed with his idea because they were worried about the relationship with China, but King Sejong was firm and did not change his mind. At first, Hangul was called "Hunmin Jeongeum," which means "The Proper Sounds for the Education of the People." The Haerye(the explanation and examples for Hangul) mentions that "a wise man can learn Hangul before the morning is over, and even a stupid man can learn them in ten days."

Hangul is known as a very scientific and easy writing system. Linguist James McCawley said that Hangul is the most ingeniously devised writing system that exists.

Consonants and Vowels of Hangul

Image result for hangul consonants and vowels

Creation of Consonants(ja-eum) 

Consonants ㄱ, ㄴ, ㅁ, ㅅ, ㅇ got their shapes from vocal organs like the tongue and throat. 
Image result for 한글 발음 기관
A new consonant was made by adding a stroke to each consonant. The sound of the consonant becomes stronger.
ㄱ-ㅋ (g-k),  ㄴ-ㄷ-ㅌ(n-d-t),  ㅁ-ㅂ-ㅍ(m-b-p),  ㅅ-ㅈ-ㅊ(s-j-ch),  ㅇ-ㅎ(ng - h)

Consonants can also be doubled to make "tense consonants."
ㄱ-ㄲ (g-kk),  ㄷ-ㄸ(d-tt),  ㅂ-ㅃ(b-pp),  ㅅ-ㅆ(s-ss),  ㅈ-ㅉ(j-jj)

Creation of Vowels(mo-eum)

All Hangul vowels come from three fundamental vowels:
ㆍ(arae-a), ㅡ(eu), ㅣ(i)
"ㆍ"(arae-a) was made after the "round sky," "ㅡ"(eu) was made after the flat earth, and "ㅣ"(i) was made after a person standing on the earth beneath the sky.

Combining the three vowels, you can get ㅗ(o), ㅏ(a), ㅜ(u), ㅓ(eo), ㅛ(yo), ㅑ(ya), ㅠ(yu), ㅕ(yeo), ㅘ(wa), ㅝ(wo), ㅢ(ui), ㅚ(oe), ㅐ(ae), ㅟ(wi), ㅔ(e), ㅒ(yae), ㅖ(ye), ㅙ(wae), ㅞ(we).

Hangul is known to be the easiest writing system because the consonants and vowels have their own rules, such as combinations and adding strokes.

Examples of Hangul Calligraphy

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Hangul in graffiti: "A flower has bloomed."

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"patience"


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"beautiful Hangul"



   Though the original Hangul characters might seem like shapes you see in geometry, it has a unique beauty when written in many different ways. 
Never forget King Sejong, who made Hangul in spite of so many opposers.

* If you are interested in learning Korean, visit Key to Korean. It's a wonderful website!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Essay on "Hamlet" by W. Shakespeare

Hamlet's Unfortunate Dilemma

         “To be or not to be, that is the question.” The most famous quote I have ever come across originated from William Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet. The unfortunate Danish prince meets his end with almost everyone around him dead, including his parents, uncle, and lover. I knew how the play ended before reading the book but was still curious why Hamlet and the other characters had to face such a tragic death.

Image result for hamlet act 2         Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark, but a terribly unfortunate one. His mind becomes very unstable after meeting the ghost of his father and being told that his uncle, Claudius murdered his father. Due to his determination to seek revenge plus the misunderstandings between the characters, almost everyone is dead at the end of the play. I was baffled when I found out how the play ended. What was Shakespeare, the great playwright trying to talk about? Why would he kill everyone when a happy ending with a triumphant new “king” Hamlet could be possible?

         Hamlet does not tell us exactly what’s right and what’s wrong. Hamlet constantly thinks about killing Claudius, but never fully makes up his mind until the very end of the play. His action tells us how a person struggles to decide between a social concept(like seeking revenge for the family) and morality. Some critics think Hamlet must have had schizophrenia or depression, but I believe he was just sensitive and easily hurt by harsh situations. The fact that his mother married Claudius hurt him, and Hamlet’s inner conflict of deciding whether to make revenge or not put him in a state of madness. 
Goethe said Hamlet was more of an “expensive vase that should only hold beautiful flowers” than a prince. Hamlet was too vulnerable and moral to handle the things that happened to him.

Image result for to be or not to be         So how does Shakespeare provide a solution for poor Hamlet? He did not leave Hamlet to be a helpless prince but makes him take action – killing Claudius. In his perspective, Hamlet did not commit murder as an individual, but as a tool of God. At first, I could not accept Shakespeare’s justification of murder, but I found out that European societies in the Middle Ages thought that killing a person for revenge was okay, although the murderer was punished. Hamlet was born at least 400 years ago, and he was a sensitive person who just happened to be expected to kill his uncle while his conscience said no. His inner conflict finally led to a successful revenge on his uncle but also letting himself get killed at the same time.

         Hamlet is definitely not a "happily-ever-after" fairy tale. I believe it best describes how a person feels on the inside when there is a collision of two important values. The play also shows how truthful Hamlet is, compared to Laertes, who did not feel guilty for trying to make revenge. Hamlet is often considered as the epitome of an indecisive person. I guess the dilemma came from the collision between his honesty and the desire to find justice for his father. It was the prince's fate.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My first app: WordEgg

I still cannot forget how I felt when I saw this message in the Google Play Developer Console page.
We're processing your update. It can take several hours until it is available throughout Google Play.
Several hours later, I saw this on my phone.
Yay!
After a year of fixing codes and drawing characters, I had finally reached my goal. 

Now my app, "WordEgg", is on the Google Play Store, both in Korean and English!
You can search for "WordEgg(Eng)" or just "WordEgg"(which is in Korean).
Or you can download it here: 

The Story behind making WordEgg

   I first met coding in a website called "Code.org." There I made a program that let Elsa and Anna run around on the ice and draw beautiful lines and circles. It inspired me a lot: I knew there was more I could do. From that moment on, I searched the internet to find websites where I could learn coding and computer languages. I found Codeacademy and Khan Academy's Hour of Code program. They were very friendly and let me take a glimpse at what computer programming was like.

   The idea of developing a smartphone app came to my mind as I searched for more and more programming projects. At first, I just had a vague idea of the app I wanted to make. Then it suddenly dawned on me.
 'How about making an educational game that can teach kids English vocabulary?' 
I've seen many Korean kids memorize hundreds of English words on a list, bored and not having any fun at all. That kind of monotonous method could work for TOEFL, but little kids don't usually go as far as that. I thought they should have the opportunity to learn that language is a fun thing to have a taste.

   It took me days to finish the alphabet button-clicking function, which now I think is the easiest code within the whole app. I was a novice in programming, and I almost regretted deciding to make an app. But seeing the little bird and the wicked spider move with my code, I decided to put my app in the store at all costs. I couldn't just erase them from the world; they were my creations. With the help of teachers, I slowly made progress. Using if statements and loops, I finally ended up with about 2,000 lines of code. I still can't believe I wrote them!

Spider-hitting event from WordEgg
   WordEgg is not a big app. In spite of this long writing about it, there are only 20 vocabularies available. There is no background music either.(Sorry about that...) As soon as I find myself time, I wish to update more words and draw other characters to make the app become more alive. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

THAAD: Is defense the best solution?

Defense.
It might make people feel safer. But does it really mean safety? I think defense actually suggests threat and danger because countries defend themselves when they see another country defend itself. Countries claim that it is an inevitable act – you just can't blink and do nothing when there's a possibility to get attacked!
See "defense" illustration and post

     THAAD, aka Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, is a anti-missile system designed by the U.S.. Literally, it can shoot down missiles at a high altitude. It can also protect wider regions than MIM-104 Patriot and so on, but I'm not going to make further explanations because it is not the point of what I want to say.

     Now, the U.S. Army and the South Korean government are planning to deploy THAAD to the Korean Penninsula(and has almost decided) to protect South Korea from North Korea's missile attacks that might occur anytime. China and Russia are strongly against this plan because part of their territory is within THAAD's range and the surveillance data could be transferred to the United States.

     There has been a lot of controversy on this issue in South Korea about whether THAAD should be deployed or not. The Korean government is emphasizing the relationship with the United States along with strong defense against North Korea's attacks. It has now, even announced the region where THAAD is going to be placed.

Banner says: "How can THAAD be placed in an environment-friendly town??"
     I think THAAD is very likely to be placed in the Korean Penninsula no matter what people say, and no matter what I write on this blog. The government might be right with some of its points, like maintaining a good relationship with America. But placing THAAD is not the perfect solution that can protect South Korea from North Korea's attacks.

     What would happen when North Korea launches a missile to the South for real? South Korea would of course, "defend" itself from getting attacked by using THAAD. Then what? Can anyone guarantee that the South Korean government would do nothing else after the attack? Once the missile is fired from North Korea, tensions between the North and the South is going to be huge. And even if a magnificent missile system is placed in South Korea, attacks from North Korea and fighting it back is going to cause war at the end.
More violence, more division(but North Korea wouldn't stop violence, and I can't do anything about it!)
     If THAAD is placed in Korea, it has to be the last defense. And for this to come true, North Korea should stop threatening other countries with its missiles and nuclear bombs. I don't know if this would be possible, but I terribly wish North Korea to have a talk with the South and build up a more peaceful relationship just like in the early 2000s. 

     South Korea also has to seek a more peaceful way to protect itself; violence against violence can never completely solve anything. It is only going to bring more terror.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ambreen's death a wake-up call for women rights in Islamic countries

     Her name was Ambreen. It has been almost a month since the 15-year-old Pakistani girl's death. What she did was just help a friend escape the town with her boyfriend. After the couple successfully escaped the town, Ambreen was dragged from home, injected sedatives and strangled. She was later tied up to a van and burnt to death. When the neighbors found her after hearing a loud blast, only the girl's skeleton remained with bangles on her wrist bones.

Left- Ambreen's body, Right- vans that were burned with Ambreen
     The people who ordered Ambreen's death were the tribal council members of the town. They carried out "honor killing" because they thought the girl dishonored the whole town as well as her family. Why is helping a friend a reason to face such a terrible death? Shouldn't it be called an "honor" instead, since Ambreen took such a high risk helping her friend? The council members ought to feel terribly ashamed of ordering the murder, although they do not seem to feel so at this point.

     I was so shocked when I came across the article about Ambreen at cnn.com. I knew that honor killings were being carried out in some Islamic countries, but 1,000 women killed like that in 2014 just in Pakistan? I think the Pakistani government should really work hard to figure out a solution for this huge problem. It is so tragic that some girls around the world are given numerous opportunities while others are savagely killed in the name of honor.

    Another problem emerges from Ambreen's death. Women rights should, of course, be improved a lot in several Islamic countries. However, Muslims are often being misunderstood these days, not only due to honor killings but also notorious terrorist groups like IS.


     We should remember Ambreen and further think about so many girls being mistreated around the world. I hope Islamic countries' governments will make huge efforts to improve women's rights. At the same time, the world should not glare at Muslims; they must be able to distinguish between Islamic acts and un-Islamic acts like the illustration above.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

AI from Go to Universe Conqueror

Go is a Chinese traditional board game, also known as "Baduk" in Korean. It has been recognized as the hardest board game ever, although now it seems that AI has already learned how to play it – very well.


Even as a person who knows totally nothing about Go, I found the Google DeepMind challenge match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol very exciting. I actually read a book about artificial intelligence a few months ago. There it said that AI is already a great chess player and later might be a great Go player as well. After hearing the news of 3 consecutive wins of AlphaGo, I was surprised at how fast AI was developing.

So how was AlphaGo capable of winning against a professional 9-dan player? It uses "machine learning" and "tree search techniques" according to Wikipedia. Machine learning is literally the ability of a program to learn by itself and make new rules at certain circumstances. Tree searching? It's actually something we do every single day – making choices to find the answer. Take a look at the diagram below.


When I think of this simple-looking tree being used in playing a board game, I'm able to imagine how big the search tree of AlphaGo might be.

We have been able to set humans apart from AI because we don't have to think about everything that could happen in every single situation. You don't actually draw a huge search tree in your mind and go through every branch, thinking hard whether you should have some more sleep or not. Humans know what group of branch to search the answer from. I thought this was what AI couldn't do, but not anymore. Google DeepMind says AlphaGo already has this ability. It is starting to have "intuition". 

What would happen if AI becomes fully capable of thinking like a real person? Some say that AI would try to rule us – especially in science fiction movies. However, I think that it would not happen if we are careful not to reach the technological singularity point. It is when AI becomes smart enough to make an even smarter being. Artificial intelligence was made by humans to be a help to mankind. The goal of AI is not to become as smart as possible but to give assistance to people. I think it would be better for the society if AI cooperates with us instead of competing or overpowering us.

Or there could be this kind of scenario: Artificial intelligence reaches the point of singularity and becomes so intelligent that it obtains power to rule the universe. Humans are kept under control of AI with many other alien species.   -The End-