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16th English Essay Contest

Twenty-four students participated in the 16th English Essay Contest.  Selecting four finalists from among the 24 was exceedingly difficult because of the depth of the essays?quality.  Therefore, some very good essayists were left off the shortlist.  Of course, their participation is greatly appreciated.
The participants had to choose one of the following topics: 1) Are we being manipulated by the mass media?  2) Is Korea too Americanized?  3) Are the Humanities dead?
Mr. Lee Keun-oh? First Prize essay sees Americanization as a fait accompli.  This is because Korean culture is saturated with American ways.  He gives us a litany of American influences and examples of how they profoundly influence Korean? lifestyle.  American influence is so pervasive that it has literally changed Korean? well-being and health-care system.  Obesity, for example, is directly linked to the popularity of  fast-food.  This, in turn, requires hospitals to direct more of their resources to combat the obesity problem, a disease very new to Koreans.  On the other hand, Americanization has prepared Koreans for globalization; thus, the obvious benefits of Americanization certainly outweigh the liabilities.
Ms Lee Jung-yeon? Second Prize essay says that Americanization is synonymous with modernization.  Koreans cannot cling to the past if they want to enjoy the benefits modernization offers.  And there? no reason to fear it.  Other countries are facing the same challenges from modernization as Korea, including the English requirement.  A Seoul lifestyle is no different from one in New York and other international cities. Seoulites wear jeans because they?e comfortable and eat fast-food simply because it? the most convenient way to eat in a highly competitive society where ?ime is money.? Ms Lee is confident that the spirit of Koreans --- especially the World Cup spirit --- will always unify them.  Her Korean spirit is in her hanbok.
Ms Yang Yoo-jin? Third Prize essay argues that the Humanities will never die because they have a practical use separate from Academia.  She supports this opinion with an excellent example from the world of advertising.  Advertising companies are looking for creative people who can think outside the box.  These people often come from the Humanities.  Today? students are criticized for having a too-narrow Academic focus while still undergrads, when they should be expanding their knowledge.  As it turned out, her friend with broad knowledge acquired from the Humanities was much better prepared for a graduate-school essay exam than the friend who only cared about getting good grades in his major.
Ms Oh Ju-yeon? Fourth Prize essay is, unlike the first two essays, highly critical of Koreans imitating American ways.  She sees nothing good about it.  Much of her vitriol is directed at those women who choose cosmetic surgery, something she considers an insult to their own racial identity.  According to Ms Oh, Koreans must have more confidence in their own style and stop looking to Americans for inspiration.  She is especially worried about the sexual promiscuity that is prevalent among young people, and points her angry finger at Hollywood and America? sex-obsessed culture for corrupting their morals.  And she reminds Koreans not to forget who they are.
I? sure that you will enjoy reading these essays as much as Sherbo did. 



Americanized globalization is inevitable and it is all right
Lee Keun-O
English Lang. & Lit. Major

1st  winner

Almost everywhere, we see the billboards of Mcdonald and Burger King Hollywood? feature film is constantly entering our nation.  More than half of the  population in Korea are trying to conquer English in various ways.  Many people are studying abroad and large part of that people are in the United States.  90% of the Korean people are using products of a company called Microsoft, one of the most influential and profit-making American company in the globe.  Some people say that we are being too much Americanized due to American movies, restaurants, and products thus jeopardizing traditional Korean values, customs, and culture.  Others disagree claiming that America is the sole superpower and Americanized globalization is inevitable.  In this essay, I will demonstrate why Americanized globalization is inevitable how much we are Americanized and why it is all right.
First of all American globalization is inevitable.  Almost every day we do something that is related to United States.  We eat American fast foods.  We watch movies, sitcoms and dramas from U.S.  We strive to conquer English and even that English is American English.  The standardized English tests such as TOEFL or TOEIC not only tests reading comprehension ability but also tests listening and writing ability,  thus forcing us to take a comprehensive approach such as watching DVD, studying pictionary and studying American textbook, in mastering English.  We humans are biological entity before we are Koreans or Catholics.  If we are exposed to American movies, food, or people, we are definitely going to be influenced by it.  The more we see, the more effected we are going to be.  For example, American fast food is very likely to bring ?merican disease?  Lots of fast food results in obesity.  Obesity usually leads to all kinds of fatal diseases such as diabetes, brain hemorrhage and cancer.  These diseases were not the typical so-called Korean diseases.  Some may argue that lack of exercise, heavy drinking and bad habits also play a large role but the inter relationship between fast food and the fatal diseases can? be denied.  Koreans are acquiring numerous types of fast food related diseases now.  As a result, hospitals are paying more attention to American related diseases.  And because they have to cure American diseases, hospital system is being Americanized.
Now Hospitals are being run the American way, so Private health insurance is now becoming Americanized.  It? like a chain reaction.  These days we see more American movies than ever before.  Movies, sitcoms and dramas are being exposed more than ever.  There are many evidence where mass media have had an significant effect on individual? personality and values.  If a movie portrays a man and a woman sitting romantically inside Starbucks with jazz music playing, someone who watches this might develop a fantasy about Starbucks and jazz.  Events like this will definitely have an effect an certain individual.  And it did have an effect.  Many woman fantasized Starbucks, bought four dollars coffee with brownies and enjoyed the luxury provided by Starbucks.  That? why newly-coined word like Toenjangnyo appeared and this word is a clear proof of how Americanized we have become.  These examples show that Americanized globalization is inevitable.  It also shows how much Americanized we have become.  United States is the only superpower.  The international language is English.  Mass media is virtually dominated by the U.S.  Fast foods are everywhere.  This means we are getting exposed to American products more than ever.  So Americanized globalization is inevitable.
Second, Korean being Americanized is all right.  Our country should know what our strengths and weaknesses are.  We should learn which country is more beneficial.  United states is undeniably more beneficial than our neighboring countries such as Japan or China.  U.S soldiers are doing their military service in a country they virtually know nothing about.  Korea has saved enormous amount of money thanks to U.S.  U.S military presence deterred North Korea? invasion.  Korea has benefited a lot from the trade between U.S and Korea.  Learning English now is more than necessary and U.S is the only country with the answer.  If we become more Americanized, we are going to attract people from the U.S more.  Lots of U.S people will also attract people from Canada, Australia and England.  As a result Korean? English will improve and it will make our global status stronger.  People will invest more.  Tourists will come more.
In conclusion, Americanized globalization is inevitable, we Koreans should go further and try to become more Americanized.  Extensive studying of English is necessary.  To master English, we should watch more American films, read more English novels, and talk more to Americans.  We need to attract Americans.  If we are more Americanized, more Americans will come.  More Americans mean improvement and enhancement of English skills.  Improvement of English also means extinction of English Academies.  Ministry of Education will benefit and can focus more on public education.  The quality of American education is better, so we should adopt it.  We should go further and become more Americanized.

2nd  winner
Modernization, not  Americanization

Lee Jung-yeon
Faculty of Management

Tight jeans, juicy hamburger, take-out coffee in a large paper cup... The things listed above, not only, can be seen among our daily lives, but also, represent America.  The American culture is spreading fast and is becoming part of every Seoulite? life.  Some even say that the life of a New Yorker and the life of a Seoulite are very much alike.  They both drink coffee on the way to work, eat a juicy hamburger or steak for lunch, and go to the city? new hot restaurant for dinner.  Through globalization, we have become more Americanized.  For some, this phenomenon may seem like a downfall of our culture.  For many reasons, however, I believe what we are facing is modernization, not Americanization.
First, our lives change constantly through the pursuit of our convenience.  It is true that the American culture is more convenient for us in many aspects.  For example, I would never question the beauty of ?anbok? the traditional Korean dress, but it is a fact that they are uncomfortable as daily clothes.  We can not help worrying whether the puffy skirt might get caught by the elevator door or think of ways to hold up the skirt so it would not get wet on a rainy day.  Just imagining my day in Hanbok, is very worrisome.  Although, Hanbok is part of our tradition and it? beauty is unspeakable, it is inevitable that jeans are much more comfortable and adoptable in our daily lives.  This also includes, the eating habits for most Koreans.  In this competitive cutthroat society, the time is gold, because of this, people even want to save time eating meals.  That is why the American fast food culture has successfully launched in Korealives.
Second, modernization is a part of globalization.  Globalization is happening throughout the world.  It is not just our problem.  Many countries fear that their culture is deteriorating while the American culture is settling in.  In order for the world to become one, be globalized, we must have something in common.  That is why we have the official language, English, to unite and connect people from different parts of the world.  During the process, I believe that we have adapted few American or Western habits.  However, it is not at all, harmful to our Korean spirits.  We still have the passion that brought every Korean together during the year 2002 World Cup, somewhere in our heart.  We still celebrate the national holidays and acknowledge the beauty of the Korean culture.  Thus, I would say that Americanization is influential but not at the extent where it is harmful to us.
To encapsulate, Americanization can be seen as modernization.  It has been effective in terms of our desire to live a more comfortable and easy life.  It is very powerful because it has already affected many countries of the world.  However, not powerful enough to put out the Korean? patriotism.  As the Korean saying goes, ?f it is inevitable, enjoy it.? we should not fear but enjoy globalization.

3rd  winner
Power of the Humanities
Yang EuGene
Economics Major

In the digital age, people are required to work fast, think effectively and meet a lot of other people than before. For these reasons, people in digital era tend to neglect the Humanities such as philosophy and literature, but think that practical subjects such as business and medical science are useful. However, in my opinion, the humanities are more useful than practical theories since they can be basement of practical subjects, encourage to develop practical theories, and people? demand of the Humanities will be go on.
The Humanities can be the basement of other advanced subjects. People have to have knowledge about philosophy, literature, and language since they can be helpful as people? pre-knowledge. For example, two of my seniors were extremely different. One was good at his major, economics, but was not able to do a good job in language or other activities such as writing reports. Another person, whose major was also economics, was not perfectly good at that subject. However, he had developed his own philosophy, and read many books which were related not only his major but also other subjects. As they wanted to apply to graduate school, both of them had to write treatises. Former person, who got the excellent grades during undergraduate, did not pass the entrance exam, but the latter person was accepted to enter the graduate school. The reason that the second senior was able to pass the exam was that he had numerous pre-knowledge about organization of the essay, used plentiful expressions when he express his knowledge, and was able to develop his theory with his philosophy even though he did not have a lot of knowledge about his major. This example shows that the humanities are necessary when people study other subject.
Secondly, the Humanities can encourage to develop practical theories as they make practical one more useful. One time, I saw an advertisement about a cell-phone. It was just a picture of a celebrity and name of the cell-phone. It seemed to argue that phone and model? mood are same, but I was not able to match both. I did not think that they share their image. Few weeks later, I saw another advertisement which was about cell-phone too. However, it had difference from the first one. It had a story and several posters were connected since they were one series. Other pictures but they were connected! It was truly fun to find rest of that advertisement series. Not only did I feel fun but also felt like to buy that product. As noticing pictures more and more, the image of cell-phone made me be impressed. Making story to the several pictures was excellent idea. The advertisement was a practical subject, but thanks to power of story, it made more people buy products. The humanities are useful if people want to impress others about their outcome.
Finally, as people? demand of the humanities is increased, its importance is valuable to consider. When I went to a bookstore few weeks ago, I saw numerous new books of reversion of the Greek legend, and many people waited to buy that books. As more people familiar with the internet, more of them feel isolated rather than comfortable of freedom. Due to feel lonely, they come back to the bookstore and theaters to read and watch classical books or plays. One of my friends, who works in the theater told me that more people want to watch plays which are based on the classical story such as Greek legends. I found that development of internet or mobile phones cannot reduce the demand of the humanities from talking with her.
Power of the humanities will be go on as they are still useful as the basement and encouragement of practical theories, and people will want to know about them. Many people say that newpaper which is made with paper will not be conquered by the internet newpaper, and in my opinion, this is same to the humanities and practical theories.

4th  winner
 Koreans are Koreans
Oh Joo-yeon
Management Major

Some people might believe that Koreans?variation is just a flew of globalization. However, I believe that Koreans?are too Americanized these days because of Koreans?idolization of American? appearance, same fashion and the concept of sex.
Firstly, Korean, especially women idolize American women? appearances. Koreans mistake slim body, small face, big eyes and blond hair as an absolute standard of external features. Most of the Korean university students(female) have done a diet. There was a statistic before that 9 students among 10 have done a diet. Since they admire slim body, they just skip their meal which is unhealthy. Furthermore, a lot of women have done and are planning to have a plastic surgery. There was also a figure about this. The result was that 40% of university students have done a plastic surgery; eyes, nose and chin. It is a really surprising fact that almost half of the Koreans are trying to imitate Americans?appearances by a cruel surgery. Even though Koreans make efforts in these ways to look like western people, we can? deny that we?e Korean(Asian) because we still have black hair, yellow skin color and short legs compare to Americans. People must know that there is no unconditional standard in beauty. Koreans must regard that Asian beauty is respectful as western beauty.
In addition, Koreans wear clothes in a same way. When you walk on the street, you can find out that Koreans are having the same fashion even though they never had met before. As internet has developed, American fashionistas?fashions are getting popular. However, Koreans accept this fashion as an only way of dressing. They ignore their personality and just imitate the fashion. For instance, a narrow jean which is called ?kinny jean?became popular about a year ago. You can wear this jean if you think it fits to you. However, there are many girls going on a diet to wear skinny jean. This is an embarrassing situation. In western countries, they respect their own personalities so they wear however they want nevertheless they are the people who lead the trend. Koreans are following American? fashion blindly. People must realize that American style does not superior to Korean style, so Koreans must set new way of thinking in terms of wearing clothes.
Finally, Koreans?idea about sex has been changed a lot. In the past, as Koreans shared Confucian Ideas, they thought a sex problem is careful topic to talk about. However, these days, if you talk with young people, you can find out that Koreans became different a lot regarding the sex. Young people are affected by the mass media in various ways. If you read many kinds of magazines, most of them contain contents related to sex. Furthermore, if you watch hollywood movies, there are many scenes that stimulates an audience by sexual expressions. By these entertainment things, young people vary their thoughts about sex. Many researches are done about this point. Half of the university students in Korea had sex with their partner and 60% of the students said they can have sex before getting married. There is no right of wrong answer in this problem. Still, the thing what is serious is that most of the young people believe that this kind of life style represents all of the Americans?life and that it seems cool. Not all of the Americans have sex whenever they fall in love and this is just a way of one? life not the general tendency of the world that other nations must follow. Each country has different values and ideas. Furthermore, each nation learn their own philosophy while growing. Koreans don? must follow the American? life the way it is exposed. They must keep their own principle.
Koreans are being too Americanized physically, socially and mentally. They constantly try to copy Americans?external appearance, fashion and the way of thinking. Koreans are confusing Globalization with Americanization. For these reasons, Korea is becoming an epigone of America. Koreans must believe that they have their own beauty and own spirit. Koreans are Koreans!

Ryu Seo-hyun Reporter  ryu0121@dongguk.edu

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