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-

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Arduino - first project and troubleshooting

These days I have been interested in making objects move by themselves. Have I been practicing magic with Harry Potter? Nah, just kidding. :-)

The Arduino is just a small blue board with some sensors and pins attached to it. (I'm sorry for using the word "just" because it must be very complicated inside.) I've been working on the very first and basic project - making LED lights blink.

This is a simplified picture of how I put the LEDs on the breadboard and connected them with the Arduino.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wtbjzGIQe_I
Although I know a bit of C++, I watched some videos and wrote the "model" code. I hope sometime later I would be able to write my own Arduino code and make cool stuff happen.
But when I compiled, orange error lines that read "not in sync: resp=0x00" appeared. It seemed that my Arduino didn't receive any of the code I wrote. I searched the internet and many people seemed to be having problems with this notorious error. My problem was that the Arduino was attached to the wrong port.
To change the port : Open the Arduino software, go to Tools->Serial Port and choose the other COM (e.g. COM1, COM3)

So here's how the LEDs blinked after successfully compiling the code.

Yay!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Essay after reading "To Kill a Mockingbird"

The Dead Birds Society

I was about five years old when I found a strange book on my parents’ bookshelf. It was called “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I was shocked. Why on earth would my parents want to figure out how to kill a bird? The image of an innocent, cheerful little bird shot with an arrow slowly formed in my mind. Ten years later, I read the strange book. The image of a dying mockingbird I had thought of was actually what the author was trying to say.


Tom Robinson did nothing but try to help a lonely white woman. When he was accused, Atticus defends him as hard as he can. Although all the evidence pointed out that he wasn’t guilty, Tom loses the trial just because he was black. He was shot numerous times when he tried to escape. People of Maycomb thought Tom was foolish for running blindly for freedom, but I could understand him. He was tired of fighting against the stereotype of white people. He wanted to find his own way out, although he knew he was very likely to get killed. When Tom was young, his left hand was caught in a cotton mill and injured. It made him unable to go over the fence fast enough to escape. What the white people did stopped him from being free even to the very last moment of his life. In spite of all, he had always respected them and even felt sorry for them – like what he felt for Mayella Ewell.

         Scout and Jem were always curious about a man called Boo Radley, who never came out of his house. The children wanted to see Mr. Radley so much that even tried to put a note on the Radley house window with a fishing pole. I thought Boo could have felt very upset about this because it seemed as if the children were goggling at an exotic animal in a zoo. However, Mr. Radley gave small gifts to Scout and Jem by putting them in a tree hole. He even saved their lives when Bob Ewell attacked them. He must have quietly watched them playing near his house. Mr. Radley was completely misunderstood by his neighbors all this time; he was made into a horrible ghost that haunted the town when he was actually a warm-hearted man who loved children. Scout finally understands him when she stands in front of the Radley house and tries to stand in his shoes.

         A mockingbird never attacks anyone. All it does is sing a beautiful song that makes people feel better. Tom Robinson and Boo Radley were both unfortunate songbirds who were unable to get along with the people of the town. The author also implies discrimination of gender. Scout acts like a boy, and everyone tells her that she should be like a lady. Her perspective of the world was just a little different from the ladies. There is nothing wrong about being different. When many people are biased against an idea, it can impact certain individuals in a terrible way. We are killing many mockingbirds even today. It is just that at the moment, we do not notice what we are doing.