The Girl Who Takes the Road Not Taken

In the poem “The Road Not Taken,” Robert Frost writes, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I– / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” Those lines were exactly what struck my mind on that day when I had a chance to ask a calligrapher at a flea market in Hongdae to write a phrase on a blank bookmark. I hesitated a little, and the old calligrapher looked at me questioningly, waiting for me to say something. Thinking of Frost’s work made me suddenly blurt out, “Can you please write… ‘The girl who takes the road not taken.’ ”

    That is how I got my one-and-only bookmark five years ago. At the time I was a twelve-year-old who had dropped out of elementary school. The teachers were astonished when they found out I was no longer coming to school. Why would such an obedient, high-achieving ‘model student’ decide to leave? They even suspected my parents of perhaps persuading me or even forcing me to drop out. Yet it was undoubtedly my own decision: a pa…

The Overcoming: getting through the most embarrassing moment in my life

The Overcoming     With a big smile on my face, I left the classroom. It had been a fantastic discussion about whether the government should allow euthanasia or not. I loved the flow of my words and how it contributed well to the whole debate. Then a flash of memory suddenly came to mind as I hopped down the stone steps of the English Building. An experience that had made my face burn red hot and my hands tremble with sweat. Something I do not want to recall, but comes rushing into my brain sometimes.

    I was one of the few second graders (that would be 14 years old) at a Korean Debate Contest a few years ago. I had never been to academies that taught debating skills but was confident that I would do well. However, my firm belief in the ability to speak was painfully shattered into pieces when I encountered the real debate.

    As I stood at the podium, I could feel everyone's eyes on me, their pencils ready to write down every single bit of my speech. I took a long, deep breat…

Going to the adult day care center

"Your hands are so beautiful," the old woman took hold of my hand and said. I looked down at it, and back at hers. I had never looked at my hands that way, had never considered it to be something that feels good just to gaze at. The sight of my hands seemed to make the old woman reminisce about the past when her hands were not a dry heap of wrinkles. I suddenly felt guilty about how I took my unwrinkled hands, my youth, for granted.

   After a few visits to the adult daycare center, I heard from the staff that all of the elderly there had at least a little bit of dementia. Their behavior was indeed, slightly awkward; many of them had difficulty folding paper while doing origami, some tapped anxiously on the sofa every few seconds, and some were even unable to talk or made strange noises. The old men and women needed the help of the staff to move around or eat dinner. They were like a group of toddlers, from the fact that they were incapable of doing daily things on their …

Some criticism on K-pop idol music

The K-pop industry is enlarging, and now there are fans not only in South Korea but all over the world – Hong Kong, Phillippines, Australia, Peru, and so on. I have grown up watching the rapid growth of K-pop and its immense influence on people through different kinds of media. Although I think K-pop is pretty cool with all its energy and rhythm, I want to point out some of its downsides and unintended negative influences – especially for the K-pop idol groups.

The Lyrics The idol groups' songs are pretty good – most of them are quite catchy and addictive. That is certainly a crucial factor in K-pop's popularity. Yet these songs now tend to have too many repetitive melodies and lyrics that are simply easy to remember. Take a look at some of the most popular ones I have come across on the Naver and MelOn charts, both of which are quite authoritative. I have only extracted some parts, so please note that it is not the whole song.
(*Translation: Gaeun Kim)
1) An example of repeti…

I am not letting you go, physics!

When I figured out that I had ruined the finals, I did not stop rubbing my glasses with my sweaty hands. I wanted the lenses to get as dirty and foggy as possible. Looking around through my glasses, I found everything covered by a strange, translucent sheet of contaminated mist. All I could do was sigh, and regret how I looked at the world through these foggy glasses. All I could do was suffer from the painful thought that I cannot yet see what I wish to see.

I have believed for all these years that I am a "STEM kid." Well, I don't want to divide people into "natural sciences" and "liberal arts," but it is true that quite a few students are a little bit more interested in a particular field. In my case, I know by heart that I love science. I have always craved for the knowledge about how and why things work in the world. I feel joy when I figure out a new fact about a natural phenomenon that I had never taken notice before. It is as if I am given a se…

Thoughts on disobedience to school rules

I was a so-called "model student" in middle school. I never wore my skirt short, never grew my hair too long, and never, ever wore accessories nor makeup. I believed that was absolutely what a student interested in learning should look like.

One morning as I went to school, the usual teacher was standing in front of the school gate. She was scolding another girl who was caught probably because of her short skirt and heavy makeup. The teacher suddenly called me who had just been passing by. She pointed at me, telling the other girl, "Look at her! This is how you should look like." I felt sorry for the other girl but at the same time thought that it was her fault that she got scolded. I did not understand why she did things that were forbidden by the school.

Now I think, what if I asked the teacher, "What's the matter with wearing a short skirt? What's the matter with wearing makeup, and having curly and long hair? Why should every student look the same, …

Argumentative essay: Is artificial intelligence beneficial for us?

The way of providing goods and services has evolved significantly throughout human history. Starting from simple labor and witnessing the development of machines, humanity is now facing the rapid growth of artificial intelligence and automation. There is much doubt on whether the development of AI would positively affect us. Many fear that we might end up in a dystopian society where artificial intelligence takes away a lot of human jobs and even attempts to conquer the world. However, I believe that AI at the end would not destroy us, but contribute greatly to society.

   The rise of automation increases the efficiency of work. Humans are much better than artificial intelligence in the aspect of creativity. Connecting ideas and bringing new ones into existence is what machines are not yet capable of doing. Some say that AI has the ability of creation, mentioning AI-generated music pieces or artworks. Nevertheless, those works do not result from intention or emotion, but merely imi…

Finding the real me: looking into the past

Time changes everything, and of course, I am not an exception. Looking at some photos and videos from my childhood, I could not help but feel very sad. To be more precise, I felt a strange feeling of loss. The 10-year-old me I found hidden in the digital album was confident, energetic, and deeply into books. I liked to be a leader in every group. I didn't hesitate to accept challenges. And I was never bored of anything. Everything in the world seemed to be an interesting subject of observation. I thought there was nothing in the world that was impossible if I had enough passion and courage. Even though it might sound a bit optimistic, part of it is still so true. Now, I guess time has changed me into a more realistic person. Now I care more about the consequences of what I do, worry about the possibility of failure, and hesitate to think of extraordinary ideas. My expression has changed too, with a somewhat tired, faded light in my eyes. Is this what "becoming older" mea…

Rage, rage against the dying of the light

A few years ago I came across Do not go gentle into that good night  for the first time while watching the movie Interstellar. Though I had an abstract idea of what this poem was talking about, the poem hadn't really touched me deep down in my heart. I could not even imagine myself in a rage. But now, listening to the Interstellar main theme music and rereading this poem, I have noticed a new kind of emotion awakening inside me.

It would be great if you listen to this while reading below!

Do not go gentle into that good night
Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And …

The Silent Town Where Only Cicadas Sing

It's afternoon. When I look out the window, I find a familiar scene; endless rows of rectangular apartment windows, trees and so-called patches of garden here and there, playgrounds comprising red, yellow, and green plastic slides and swings. But they are always empty. It's summer break, but everything seems so quiet and deserted. No kids are running around. Teenagers are nowhere to be seen. Only the sound of cicadas fills the hot, humid air.

     This is not at all a surprise. People here just accept it. They do not raise questions – at least not out loud – about why there aren't any kids jumping about. We all know where they are. Instead of going to playgrounds and parks, children sit on chairs, listening to lectures and solving math problems in academies – hagwons in Korean. Some are as young as nine or ten. Others mostly teens.

     For high schools students like me, it is very natural to spend long hours in hagwons. I have never met anyone who loved being there, …