The topics of the 13th English Essay Contest were 1) National Security Law, 2) Eco-Culture and 3) The World and I in the 21st-century.
Choosing a winner and three finalists from a pool of 24 participants was an exacting task that required making difficult decisions. Thus, some highly literate students were excluded.
Given the fierce competition in today’s job market, writing skills can determine whether or not one will be employed. The four prize-winning essayists demonstrated that they are eminently qualified to compete at the highest level.
I concur with all of Kim Jai-eun’s thoughts and observations so lucidly presented in her superb first-place essay, “Save the Earth, Save Us!” I, too, recall when there was a clear demarcation between city and country, and agree that building “flamboyant restaurants and hotels with almost grotesque exteriors and most exotic names, such as Casa Blanca or Venice” along rustic riverbanks is ridiculous. She correctly places the blame for past and current ecological abuses on everyone’s greedy, consuming shoulders, and sagely suggests that we all might be better off by living with less materialism.
Not satisfied with her second-place finish in last year’s Essay Contest, the doggedly determined Ms Kim returned to win first place this time. She should be applauded for her determination to be second to none, to be the best. Kudos to Kim Jai-eun, Dongguk’s Essay Champion.
“Quality, not quantity!” is the mantra of my composition class, which is clearly and succinctly practiced by Park Ji-hye in her “National Security Law” essay. Unlike many students who use too many words to belabor too few ideas, each and every word in the essay is used to precisely develop his complete review of the Law’s origin and purpose and to support why he believes it “should be abrogated.” Would that all students demonstrated Ms Park’s precision and economy of words.
Much of my time is spent reading student compositions, and so often I’m truly impressed by my students’ depth of thought. And no more so than after reading “The World and I Are Not Separate Agents” by Noh Young-jin
“Who am I?” is a question that has challenged all of us at some time in our lives, and, as Mr. Noh said, “This might be the most difficult question in the world to answer.” Nonetheless, he tackles this primary philosophical question by recognizing the challenges of the 21st-century are a way to develop and understand oneself and by seeing the world and I as “we.”
Choi Ye-nyang’s poetic sensibility is displayed in her “Eco-Culture” essay when she voices a concern troubling all of us. To wit, are the material conveniences of high-tech society worth the natural life we gave up to become this society?
Ms Choi believes that today’s children are the real losers. This is because many of the simple pleasures of childhood are no longer available to children: catching frogs and grasshoppers, running through fields of wildflowers and watching the flight of dragonflies. Still, she remains the eternal optimist by not giving up on humankind, but, rather, believes we can still save the world by simply working together.
Save the Earth, save us!
Dept.of Oriental Medicine Studies (Senior)
I read an article about an American-born buddhist monk in the newspaper yesterday. He, Ven. Mooyrang, which means infinity, has been building the Taegosa Temple in the deep mountain in South California, for about 10 years. There may not be so special for a monk building a temple, but what struck me most deeply was that he is doing it for himself, and in a strictly environment-friendly way.
That made me look back how I am living. Probably the opposite way of Ven. Mooryang. I looked around me, and all I could see was huge building, in which huge numbers of people consume whatever they find and get. It is pretty much the same, even if I go to a country side. Just one or two decade ago, the nature was kept untouched at least in country. But not anymore. Wherever I go, I find clusters of factories, wide and straight roads, which ruthlessly runs through fields and mountain valleys. On most riversides, there stand flamboyant restaurants and motels with almost grotesque exteriors and most exotic names, such as Casa Blanca, or Venice and so on.
We do not need to go to countryside to see how our surroundings are polluted. We are surrounded with mountains of garbages. Our health is seriously threatened by dirty air and water. Upon that, we have to worry about the enormous hole in the sky, through which merciless ultraviolet rays are pouring. We have to worry about the melting glaciers in the arctic area. Our ancestors, no, our grandparents would have imaging those things to happen? No, I do not think so.
Then, why, in such a short period of time, are we facing all these disasters now? It is because we have always wanted more and more. Scholars may call it "economy", but to me, it is naked greed. We people want more even when we have more than enough to spend over our entire life. Greed is infinite. (It's quite ironic that the Ven. Mooryang who practices eco-friendly life has his sacred name meaning the same.) Sometimes I get conscious of my greed, but I haven't learned how to manage and curb it. I guess most of my generation are not that different from me. We already have too much, but we do not realize it and seek and want even more, in the name of (economic) success. What success means, if we cannot breathe and eat safely and happily?
We should see and face our reality. We should not be misled and deceived by the glamorous facade of "modern" abundance and convenience. We need to build environment-friendly way of life and way of thinking. So far, we put ourselves first whenever we do something, but now we have to think Earth and us together. Without Earth, we do not exist. To do so, I suggest, first, we should consume less. We consume way too much air, water, paper and so on. We wrongfully think they are infinite and free. However, like freedom, they are not free. We are paying huge prices for them without knowing, and in near future, we may not get them at whatever prices, if we keep current thoughtless way of life.
Of course, consuming less can mean some degree of inconveniences and hardships. For example, we might have to carry our cups instead of using disposable cups. Also we might have to was for 10 or 20 minutes, not driving a car. But we can get used to it, and will find it rather enjoyable, because we will have more time to relax and think about ourselves, instead of devoting ourselves to material things. If you can get rid of TV, you will find yourself reading books, or exercising, or having good time with your family and friends, for instance.
Oh, we should not forget recycling, either. But it is quite secondary, I believe. If we spend/consume less in the beginning, there is not much need of recycling in the end. Still, recycling is really effective.
I have said a couple of things about how to save and nature. The most important thing, however, is our respect to nature. Nature is not a kind of means. It is our life itself. It is our mother. We have to cherish and save it. Relax and enjoy slow and simple life. We will be able to find true ourselves and live a better life.
The National Security Law and Korean Society
Communication Studies Major (Senior)
The National Security Law was established in 1948 to secure our government and its policies against people considered as having intentions to extract our nation's confidential affairs, especially North Korean spies. I think the National Security Law should be abolished in order to maintain friendly relations with North Korea, and eventually build a constructive and trustworthy relationship with it.
Our country is the only one in the world that is divided, and there has always been a tense atmosphere between the two Koreas since they were separated. Our government has been very careful in dealing with the North. Due to numerous incidents of the North sneaking submarines into the South, and word of the North containing nuclear weapons, we have the US Armed Forces in Yongsan protecting our people, and most Korean men are obligated to carry out military service for about two years.
Former president Kim Dae Joong had made a friendly move toward North Korea, conducting the 'Sunshine policy'. He made some great accomplishments such as opening up a land route to North Korea's Mt. Kumkang, and many South Koreans have been able to take a trip to Mt. Kumkang ever since. The late Jeong Joo Young, former president of the Hyundai group, had sent 500 cows to the North to help put an end to the food shortage there, and many other food supplies such as rice or snacks had also been sent to North Korea. These kinds of friendly gestures toward the North realized the 'Peace Conference' between the South and North in the year 2000, proving that the 'Sunshine policy' was very successful.
In accordance with the open policy of former president Kim Dae Joong, Woo Ri party, which is the ruling party, had recently presented a bill to the Congress, suggesting that the National Security Law be abolished. However, Grand National party, the opposition party, opposed to the bill, claiming that the abolition of the law would make it impossible to punish spies, especially those sent from the North.
I think the National Security Law only encourages a hostile atmosphere between the South and North, and therefore should be abrogated. It is important that we show a cordial attitude toward North Korea, and try to maintain friendly relations with it. We are one people of one country, and it is heartbreaking that we have been divided for more than fifty years. In fact, the partition was not even out of our own will, but was a result of conflict between the US and Russia, the Soviet Union back then, concerning diplomatic matters. We have to try to build a trusting relationship with North Korea, and therefore, I think it is necessary to abolish the National Security Law.
The world and I are not separate agents
Dept. of English Lang. & Lit. (Senior)
"Who am I?"
This might be the most difficult question to answer in the world. Many people suffer a lot, facing this question. What's the problem? Why is it so hard to define 'I'? That's because various kinds of cultures from all over the world are attracting particular groups of people belonging to particular places. In other word, so many values are attracting people and that's the main reason why people are at a loss, not knowing which values to pursue and keep.
The 21st century can be characterized by many words- war, terrorism, information society, human cloning and so on. The most important thing is that the world in the 21st century is rushing towards the value of 'unity'. The development and expansion of EU is a good example. That English came to be a must is another one. Now, I live in Korea as a common university student. I often tell my friends and my parents that speaking foreign languages and learning new values coming from the outside are very important.
The point is that we must not run away from new things. Thanks to the Internet, now, we face the increased possibilities of encountering new and different cultures, religions, tastes and so forth. It means that we can even choose and form our identities-'I'. I know I might sound radical, but it's true that one can choose and decide 'I' in the flood of information, which is a very difficult and subtle process. Some old values should be gone and some new values and ideas should be adopted for people to fit into the world of unity. National Security Law is a good example that is so old-fashioned, not practical any more. Therefore, being open-minded is the most precious and practical value to welcome the new world coming soon. Being closed and choosing a wrong 'I' could cause fatal errors for one's life.
What should I do in the 21st century with the world changing so rapidly? My point starts here. The world and I are not separate. The world and I should be called ‘we’. Don't be fearful of new ideas and cultures. Do not gravitate small things- useless information. Be aware of every particulars in the air and be open. These are my policies to live in the world of the 21st century. With these principles, in the future, I believe I can get more than surviving. Here are words that I will never forget all my life. "The network is vast and infinite." The truth is that I cannot be myself without the network. The world and I! I feel blessed about the fact that fortunately, I am still excited about these two words.
The World and I in the 21st century.
Management Major (Senior)
We have now entered the 21st century. While entering the 21st century there were many rumors about the apocalypse and disastrous ending of the earth, but that, indeed has just become rumors. So what has the 21st century brought us? It brought us rapid change and also convenient way of living. Who would have thought that with one click of a mouse we could reach the whole world? Also, that Korea will have one of the fastest growing industries like Samsung and LG. Those companies are not just simple companies but globalize companies representing Korea. Now the world doesn't think Korea as a country next to Japan or China but an individual country with great skills and potentials. However, while living in the fast developing 21stcentury it has also brought many problems as well. Looking around I don't only see the glamorous and splendid world but the contradiction of what the 21stcentury brought us. Possibly too many people were only looking forward but not turning back to look at our past.
First of all the rapid change of industry brought us environmental pollution. Nowadays it's hard to find young children running through the field catching frogs, dragonflies or even grasshoppers. When I was young, catching those insects and running around the field was one of my favorite past playtimes. However, now if you take a look around, it's hard to find any of those activities. Think carefully, when was the last time you saw dragonflies flying through the air or flowers blooming in the field? All you see is the skyscrapers high up in the air and solid cemented roads. It seems like we took away the nature from our descendent. Rather than hanging out, children stay home and watch TV or surf on the internet. It's such a shame what these fast development brought us. The fast growing industry have made a world a convenient place but not necessary a better place.
Second of all one click of a mouse brought the world closer but maybe too close. There are many problems with the internet. People are living in a wide open world. There are no such things as privacy. Just by a click, one could get any kind of information about anybody. This could be a positive thing, but with wrong intention it could be fatal to another person. Without knowing, one's ID number or their pictures could be spreading through the cyber world. Also with a little bit effort, people could easily get throughyour internet bank account or even your credit card. Of course people are coming up with solution for these problems, but when the solution comes up, others come up with anew way to break that solution and everything is back to the starting point. This is another problem the 21st century brought us.
Lastly, 21st century is about competition and coming up with ways to live a better life, but all these made us lose humanism. Human is the most important being in life. Unfortunately all these development made us forget that human is the scarcest being on life. The stiff competition made other people to step another and even your own family. To livea better life they are willing to do whatever it takes. When you are on the street did you take a look around to see people less fortunate than you? Were you willing to help them? Possibly one might just pass by, thinking they deserve to be there and they didn't work hard enough. Some people might even consider they are not beggar at all, but pretending to be one to earn some money. The fast change made us think that people who cannot follow the change should be deteriorated. That is wrong and maybe there are other reasons for them to be on the streets. It's time to look back and help those in needs. It's not only about living a better life by your self but living together in harmony.
I believe 21st century brought us many positive matters. I don't only see the dark side of our future but with some effort and care, I believe the future could be brighter. Industries are trying hard to make friendly environment and ways to preserve our ecology. There are people trying to prevent internet hacking and helping those who are in need. There is hope in our world and I am happy to be living in this world as it is. The best solution is to make small changes starting from me and try to make a difference. It is amazing how one person could make big changes in our world. If everybody tries to do their best, world would be a better place. I believe in the power of human being. After all, the world has not come to an end. There is still hope.
<저작권자 © 동국포스트, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>