Archive for March, 2012

My Desert Island Survival List

Focus question:

If you were stuck on a desert island, and then one day an empty Pocari Sweat bottle washed up on the beach shore, and then when you opened it a magic genie jumped out and granted you three wishes as long as they were tangible objects (and not people like Rain or BoA), then what three things would you wish for?

My Desert Island Survival List – One Paragraph

If I were stuck on a desert island, and then one day a magic genie jumped out of a washed up Pocari Sweat bottle and offered me three tangible items, I would choose my MP3 playera solar powered battery charger, and my favourite acoustic guitar. Firstly, I would ask for my MP3 player from home because it has my favourite music from New Zealand and Korea which I like to listen to at different times of the day, like when I am jogging, or feeling homesick. Secondly, I would want a solar powered battery charger because I want my MP3 player to keep working, but also because it might be able to help me signal to passing airplanes or ships. Thirdly, I would ask the nice genie for my favourite guitar, so I can continue with one of my favourite hobbies: playing guitar and singing badly. With these three things then, I think life on a desert island might actually be quite nice!

My Desert Island Survival List – Five Paragraphs

If I were stuck on a desert island, and then one day a magic genie jumped out of a washed up Pocari Sweat bottle and offered me three tangible items, I would choose my MP3 player, a solar powered battery charger, and my favourite acoustic guitar.

My MP3 player has some of my favourite music from my favourite bands back home in Wellington, New Zealand, including Weta, and Shihad, and some other songs by my uncle and cousins, and also some of my favourite Korean home music like Crying Nut, and Vidugi OoyoO. I like to listen to my favourite songs when I am waking up in the morning, or when I am walking home, or when I am jogging, or when I am feeling homesick. It would be very helpful for my heart, ears, and mind at these times to have my MP3 player (and headphones) on the island.

If there was no MiniStop, 7Eleven, or EMart nearby, then I would not be able to able to perchase new batteries. I would therefore need a solar powered battery charger. Also, most solar powered battery chargers have very shiny surfaces. Perhaps I could use this charger for two more things: one is to use the reflected sunlight to signal to passing airplanes or ships, to try and distract the captain and let them know I am here. The second is to check my reflection so that I know I look good before they pick me up and take me back to Gwangju. Otherwise, they might think I am some kind of strange new wild animal, and they might leave me there for a future science expedition which may not arrive for many more months or years.

Just listening to music is not active enough an activity sometimes though. I would also like to have my favourite guitar so that I can practise playing guitar and singing badly. Playing guitar and singing badly is one of my favourite hobbies. Also, it would be good practise for me and my brain to remember the songs I know, and perhaps to write new ones about my experiences on the island. It is healthy to keep mentally active in a creative and fun way.

Of course it would be helpful to have many other things on my desert island. A MacGyver Swiss Army pocket knife might be handy, and it would also be really nice to have a “bungopang” stall (or “pojungmacha“) with the nice aunty to make me bungopang for dessert on cold nights. Before that, however, I would be much happier having my MP3 player to listen to, a solar charger for its multiple uses, and my guitar to keep me creatively engaged and more mentally active in my spare time, after fishing and eating coconuts.


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My First Favourite Movie: The Sting

When I was about twelve years old my father took me on a special trip to the theatre. The movie was not a new release, but my father seemed excited to go to the theatre anyway. Even though I did not know anything about it, I was curious because he did not usually seem interested in going to see any movies at all, and especially not with me. It was called The Sting, [한국어] and in the end I really enjoyed it. It was a really good movie because of the great acting, the funny dialogue, and most of all, the amazing story line.

Paul Newman takes a bath and has a chat with Robert Redford, on the toilet in the film The Sting (1973).

The main actors were Robert Redford and Paul Newman. They were very famous for being both handsome and talented, so both men and women enjoyed watching them act in movies. Robert Redford acted so well that he was nominated for an Academy Award. Even though I did not always understand what was happening, because of the high quality acting I was always interested in trying to understand what the characters were talking about.

The dialogue was interesting, even though it was about gambling, numbers, and money, and I have never been interested in any of these things. There were many characters and many of them talked to other characters, and they all considered complex situations very carefully. Even though I understood that individual lines and some conversations were funny and made me laugh, I could only start to understand what they were all talking about overall, and could only generally follow who was supposed to be a ‘good guy’ and who was a ‘baddie.’

By the end of the story I was completely confused as to what was going on and who was ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ but I was still really interested in trying to understand what was happening. The main characters seemed almost lost amidst a larger group of others; and then the movie came to the last scene and what I thought was happening turned out to be something completely different again! I was both surprised and delighted, while also being happily confused. My father explained that it was a story with ‘a twist’ in the end, and that is why the movie had the name ‘The Sting,’ like a wasp with a stinger on its tail at its end.

Seeing the movie taught me that it is not always necessary to understand every word that is said in order to still enjoy sharing an experience, and, sometimes understanding every word does not help enough to know what is really going on anyway! Watching The Sting taught me that a story with a surprising twist in the end can be a lot of fun. It also taught me that movies could be really smart, with complex, difficult story lines, and yet still be interesting, and funny enough to make me laugh. Finally, to this day, one of my favourite memories of watching a movie is sharing The Sting with my father.

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The Sight of Honesty

It was good to learn, yesterday, of the new efforts of one organization to promote their cause. Their new video ad campaign is really making people understand their point, even if some of those people watching the ad don’t like it very much!

This is a news story about the advertising campaign, below. What do you think about the ad campaign? Would you like to watch all the advertisements in the series? What is the goal of these advertisements? How effective do you think they are at that goal?

Do you smoke? If so, why?

Do you want to quit? Why, or why not?

If you used to smoke but now you have already given up, i.) congratulations; I know that it is hard,
and ii.) how did you do it?  How did you manage to quit smoking?!

What do you think is the most effective way of stopping or ‘quitting smoking’? Should society  pay for ‘Help’ phone-in quit-help counselling centres, or nicotine withdrawals packs?? These would be paid for by the taxes that the government collects.


According to, there were 313,000,000 people living in the USA last year. Just two or three years before that, nearly 500,000 people had died from smoking-related causes, including about 50,000 who have died just from smelling and breathing the second-hand smoke coming from people who are smokers. Also, 20 times that approximately 500,000 people suffer from the kinds of diseases you can see in that video above. That equates to about 10 million people in the USA alone who are suffering from sat least one ‘serious illness from smoking’.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cigarette Smoking-Attributable Morbidity—United States, 2000. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 2003;52(35):842–4 [accessed 2012 Jan 24].

In conclusion then, if we relate those numbers to South Korea, and if we agree that Korea has about 50 million people here, and if we take the same average number of smokers, then that is about 20% of the US population. (Actually about 40% of men smoke, and hopefully less than 10% of women, so the local average is actually probably more than 20% of the Korean population.) If we pretend that only 20% of the Korean population smokes, and if the death rate is the same as the US (ie. if we assume that cigarettes are the same strength of toxicity, and people smoke at the same rates ie. not many more or less per day), then perhaps the death rate is the same.

That means, if my maths is right, that about 833,333 people have or will die in South Korea because of cigarettes. More than that, however, nearly 17 million will be suffering from ‘serious illnesses from smoking.’ Furthermore, about 83, 333 NON-smokers will die because of all the smokers around them. And frankly, there are a LOT of smokers all over the streets in Korea. Everywhere.

Is my maths correct? If you are Korean, what is your reaction to this news of how many of ‘our country’ will die this year because of a legal drug?

If you are not Korean, do you know what the leading cause of death is in your own home country yet? Is it automobile accidents? Is it plane crashes or shark attacks? What is the leading cause of death in South Korea?

Well, let’s all take another look at those nice video commercials above, shall we?

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My University Club – VUW TKD

A One Paragraph Version:

When I was at university straight after secondary school, I decided to join the Victoria University of Wellington Taekwondo club. I joined for two reasons: the great physical challenge, and the socializing. The VUW TKD club only met twice a week, but when we did, we trained really hard! Our instructor Che would say: “Relax; nice and easy; … now kick!” He would tell us to repeat each kick over and over, faster and faster, until we were so exhausted we wanted to collapse! Our other instructor, Dennis,  who took training on Saturday afternoons, made us do lots of really hard exercises like jumping up and down the hall, kicking many pads, and then sprinting back up the hall to do it all again, and again, and again! After training on Saturdays, we would often go out together and socialize at cheap restaurants for meals after training, and have parties at our homes sometimes. Many great friendships were made, sharing parties, birthday parties, and sometimes even weddings. There were about twenty people in the club. Nearly half were women, and many were people from different places around the world. Now, many years later, I am still in touch with many friends from the ‘TKD’ club, even though many of us are scattered throughout different countries again. I know we all value the memories, experiences, and relationships we gained through training so hard, and chatting so much, together.

That’s Che in the front on the far right, in his ‘nice and easy’ pose, as usual! Just in front of him is Sophia. She is the new main instructor. On the far left in front is Clinton. He and I graded for our black belts together.

Kicking practise: "Ready!"
Notice the healthy mixture of men and women.

Front kick: "Fifty-seven! ... Fifty-eight! ..."

Belinda kicks and maintains a good arm-block.

Belinda and Tien practise 'half-contact' sparring.

A Four Paragraph Version:

When I started at university straight after secondary school, I did not know many people. Most of my friends had gone away to study topics taught better at other universities around the country. As I had started taekwondo in secondary school and I still really enjoyed it, I decided to join the Victoria University of Wellington Taekwondo club. There were about twenty people in the group. There were nearly ten women, and many people were from different places around the world, and so there was a healthy mixture of cultures and genders. Joining the club therefore turned out to be great decision for two reasons: the great physical challenge, and the socializing.

    The VUW TKD club only met twice a week, but when we did meet to practice taekwondo, we trained really hard! We had two instructors with very different styles, both of whom liked to make us sweat and work really hard at improving our technique and speed. Che, a slim Chinese Malaysian New Zealander, would say: “Relax; nice and easy: now kick!” He would tell us to repeat each kick over and over, faster and faster, until we were so exhausted we wanted to collapse! Dennis, a compact Malaysian New Zealander who took training on Saturday afternoons, made us do lots of really hard exercises like jumping up and down the hall, kicking many pads, and then sprinting back up the hall to do it all again. After we were completely warmed up and sweating and panting (or breathing) hard, he would give us a break by practicing some self-defense moves, but then we would finish class by free-sparring for about half an hour, ‘play-fighting’ with many other people in the club. It was a great way to see how people of other experience levels and body shapes moved, but it was also a fantastic way to keep ‘in shape’ and fit and healthy.

    After training on Saturdays, we would often go out together and socialize. There are many great cheap Malaysian and Chinese restaurants in Wellington. We would usually go to a cheap one for dinner, although if it was someone’s birthday that week we might go to somewhere a bit ‘nicer,’ perhaps for Thai food, Mediterranean, or sometimes even Korean. Other times we would go to someone’s house or apartment for a party. Dennis had an apartment nearby the university, and we would often crowd in there and watch funny martial arts movies from Hong Kong, or just chat and listen to him sing strange old English pop songs on his nice old guitar. We all became genuine friends, sharing birthday parties and even weddings. Now, many years later, I am still in touch with friends from the ‘TKD’ club, even though many of us are scattered far around the world.

In conclusion then, even though not many friends from our days as students in the VUW TKD club are still training in taekwondo, I know we do keep physically fit in other ways, such as by playing rugby, or joining sociable running clubs, or by practising other martial arts. More than this though, I know we all value the memories, experiences, and relationships we gained through training so hard, and chatting so much, together.

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My Weekend

My weekend was very peaceful and relaxing. I had a nice time enjoying doing some work for my job, some study, and a little socializing too.

On Friday night I was cooking a delicious meal and working on the writing class website when suddenly, my phone rang! A friend who had just moved into the neighbourhood called to suggest that we go for a walk. I ate  a quick dinner and went to meet her. We were already walking together when suddenly we realised how very it was cold outside, however, it was also wonderfully peaceful because it was so late at night. It was too cold for most people to want to be outside, so, we enjoyed the almost absolute silence and solitude as we chatted and walked along the old railway walk and cycle route towards Gaelim Dong.

On Saturday I updated our class website some more, studied some more for my post-graduate paper, and cleaned up my apartment during the day, In the evening I went down town to meet a couple of friends for dinner. We went to Jino’s Garden restaurant. It had been some months since I was last there, and I saw that the menu had changed, as had the design of the bathrooms. I was happy to see that both were improved. The risotto was still a small portion but still very delicious and did not need to be any bigger. The salad was a fantastic mixture of fresh garden vegetables, a bit of fresh fruit, and small slices and chunks of really good quality fresh cheeses. Perhaps the most interesting, however, was the pizza. It was made with a whole grain flour thin base, and used a lot of pesto and grated and sliced almond nuts. It also had a bit of mild fresh cheese on it too, but I do not remember which sort. Have you been there? Maybe you recognize the picture and can tell me in the comments below?

Our pesto and almond pizza. What was the white cheese on each slice? I don't remember the name, but I remember the wonderfully subtle, mild blend of flavours.

As we were leaving the restaurant I looked up to see four young expat women. I knew three of them and so greeted them and took a moment to catch up. One of them also enjoys outdoor exercise sports. We had gone cycling together once, and I had learned that even though I enjoyed cycling up hills more than her, she was a much stronger runner than am I. She has actually run a few full-length marathons. I was sorry to learn that she had injured herself, and so would not be able to enjoy participating in the upcoming Seoul marathon.

On Sunday I was doing some more work on my studies and on the class website, when suddenly I realised that it was the anniversary of the earthquake, tsunami, and the nuclear disaster in eastern Japan. A friend on Facebook had posted some news video clips, including an interview with the parents of some young school children. I had many thoughts and feelings about the huge and hugely tragic event, and so I decided to take a couple of hours to write about it.

In conclusion then, my weekend was not exciting, and was not really even very interesting, although I did enjoy discovering the new menu at Jino’s, and meeting friends on Friday and Saturday evening. I did, however, enjoy the quiet and productive time I spent in between catching up with my friends.

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In Memoriam

Today marks the anniversary of the striking of the huge earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of the north-eastern coast of Japan. There are three reasons why this event is especially personally meaningful to me. The first is that my grandfather was born in Japan, and so I have family history and close personal family friends there. The second is that the event came only a month or two after a similar, although much smaller disaster, in my birth-home country of New Zealand’s second largest city, Christchurch. The third reason is the issue of nearness and distance: that Japan is one of the nearest neighbours to Korea, and, the resultant problems associated with nuclear power remind us that Gwangju is ‘down wind’ of the local nuclear power factory.

Family History and a Personal Connection

My maternal great-grandfather (my mother’s grandfather) was born in England. He became a priest in the Anglican church, also known as the Church of England, or what people from the USA call the ‘Episcopalian’ tradition. He then became a missionary and was sent to Japan where he worked as a priest and also started a family. For this reason, my mother’s father, while English, was born in Japan. He was home-schooled there until the age of twelve, at which time the family moved to New Zealand where he started at secondary school (or ‘high school’ in North American terminology).

My grandfather also decided to become an Anglican priest, and so he went to the university for priests in Auckland, New Zealand. He graduated, started his work and his own family, and eventually went back to ‘Saint John’s College’ to teach. While there one day, he met a young Japanese man who had come to study to be a priest too. At that time in New Zealand, there were almost no Asian people of any nation, anywhere. Korean people had probably never even been heard of by most ‘Kiwis,’ and Japanese people were very unusual too, but not to my grandfather, and so as that strange-looking Japanese man walked by one day, he said to him: “Konichiwah?!” That man’s name is Masafumi Nishikawa, and he was very glad to be able to speak in Japanese again, as was my grandfather too! They became good friends, and, as my mother was only a few years younger than ‘Masa,’ they also became very good friends. They kept in touch by writing letters and then emails to each other, and in 2003 my mother came to visit me in South Korea, and we went to Japan to share Christmas with Masa and his wife. It was lovely! Masa took the Christmas service, and his wife and he showed us all around Kansai area.

My family has some other special Japanese family friends. A Japanese language student needed somewhere to stay when she went to study in New Zealand. My mother had always felt open to Japanese people because her father had been born there, and so Yoko stayed with her for a while, and they became friends too. Yoko is now married with children but still keeps in touch with my mother and all my family. She is very, very nice!

Well, neither Masa nor Yoko’s families were directly affected by the tragic events of last March  [도호쿠 지방 태평양 해역 지진], however, their country has been terribly hit. This week I learned “49 out of the nation’s 54 reactors [are] offline as of January 2012.” This has to be having an effect on power prices, business, and life-style itself within every household in Japan.

But as to the actual event of the three combined disasters, and perhaps because I know my family friends, or, perhaps because I have been there and seen the coastal towns and the cities and looked out over the eastern sea from a Japanese hillside, I look for a way to think about the size and scale of this disaster. There is a famous quote which reads: “One person’s death is a tragedy, but the death of millions is a statistic.” To me, this speaks of the challenge of relating to a situation affecting so many people. We do not usually think or feel about more than the one person in front of us at any one time. For this reason, I decided to pick one person to represent the loss of the thousands who were hurt or killed by the earthquake, swept away by the waters of the tsunami, and who will likely die as a result of the nuclear crisis in Japan.

This is Mizuho Sato. Click here to watch an excellent, brief video about her situation.

In Memoriam, Mizuho Sato, twelve years old in March, 2011.

One Month Earlier

The Tohoku earthquake in Japan came only days after an earthquake killed many people in New Zealand [2011년 크라이스트처치 지진]. Though a lot less people died in Christchurch, New Zealand, the population of that country is much smaller than in Japan. It is senseless to compare the tragedies in terms of greater or lesser loss; it is valuable to compare them only by way of commenting that both are very sad situations that remind us that we never know where or when lives may end, and in this way, we all share the risk of loss of our lives. Culture, national pride, history, patriotism: none of these have any meaning in the face of the loss of a family member, friend, or neighbour; they are reduced to the empty ideas of useless ideologies.

Just Down the Road

One expression we use in English to describe the nearness of our neighbours is to say that they are ‘just down the road.’ In Aotearoa/ New Zealand, we also describe Australia as being ‘just over the ditch.’ A ‘ditch’ is a very small stretch of water like a drain-pipe or a tiny stream by the side of a road. We use this expression as a kind of a meaningful joke to describe the connection and relationship between Australia and New Zealand. I do know that Korea and Japan have a very, very different historical relationship, which has made the physical nearness between the countries seem much further away than they actually are. But recently it has been reported in Canada that much debris and trash has washed ashore there from Japan’s tsunami last year. Even Canada is thus directly affected by the events in Japan. Korea cannot even try to ignore or escape this relationship.

Furthermore, living in Gwangju as we are here, we can describe the world’s fifth largest nuclear power factory as being literally ‘just up the road.’ The Yeongwang Nuclear Power Factory has six large water pressure reactors in a row, and the factory is about 40 kilometers away from Gwangju City. Click here to open an active Google map and trace the path of the prevailing wind south east, and directly to Gwangju City, just 40 kilometers away.

Korea's Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Plant, with its six large reactors in a row, making it currently the fifth largest such factory in the world.


Today is Sunday, a day when protestant Christians typically go to church. The biggest proportion of Korean Christians is Presbytarian and protestant; not dissimilar from my Anglican background. I hope that today, my Korean sisters and brothers, and nieghbours, whether Christian or not, spare another moment to remember and love their sisters, brothers, and neighbours in Japan.

The words ‘In Memoriam’ mean something like ‘To Remember.’ We use these words in the specific context of remembering someone who has died. It is important to share thoughts and feelings over the topic of death, because, like food, music, and love, it is one of the few things that all cultures share, and so thinking about death sometimes helps remind us of our shared humanity and the value of sharing life despite cultural and historical differences. Also, for my pre-med students, it is likely to be an aspect of many of their jobs one day in the surprisingly near future.

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Fifty Years Late, and International Women’s Day

This week has been important for two reasons quite different from being the start of the new writing course. The first reason is because Tuesday marked fifty years since “a group of scientists in the UK issued the first health warnings about smoking cigarettes,” and the second reason is because yesterday was International Women’s Day [세계 여성의 날].

Fifty Years Late

The ‘group of scientists in the UK’ was not just any random group of scientists sitting around a cafe chatting; it was actually the nation’s top group of most experienced and highly recognized doctors, known as the ‘Royal College of Physicians.’ This Tuesday marked 50 years since they released a report which was really important because it told the English-speaking world very loudly and very clearly of the very real, very direct, and very dangerous link between smoking cigarettes and a large collections of diseases, including cancer, lung disease, and heart disease. To mark the fiftieth anniversary, they released a new report which both reviewed the original and offered updated information as well. You can read it here.

I entitled this section ‘Fifty Years Late’ because, despite the information within the report being accurate and important, from start to finish, from the original report in 1962 to this week’s update, this information is late. German scientists knew and publicized quite loudly and clearly as early as the 1930s that cigarettes were extremely dangerous to one’s health. As a result, German military rations did NOT include cigarettes, as distinct from those in Allied nations (the UK, the Commonwealth, and the US).

Furthermore, the eminent British physiologist Sir Richard Doll had proven for himself and the English speaking world in 1952 the direct link between lung cancer and the increased risk of heart disease. Why did it take a full decade before the RCP released a report on this crucial information?!

Since then, this information is clearly not just late, but it is also very sadly and very badly reported by the media. Even Al Jazeera’s video clip highlighting the anniversary of the original report starts by showing images of people happily smoking.

The BBC’s clip is even worse, showing mini-interviews with both men and women, all of whom speak with high-class British accents, and all of whom profess not to care about the report but rather speak of their wish to continue smoking. While it is of course possible that all these people were genuine random members of the public, the fact that all these people were apparently upper class and all seemingly smokers in itself demonstrates a very narrow selection of the wider public for the BBC to select for interviews, and so amounts to free advertising for cigarette companies, and so the eventual but unnaturally early, and likely painful death of so many more of the BBC’s viewers.

Media, and particularly news – with its apparent goal of representing truth and impartiality in reporting of what the unwary public viewers hope are facts – has a huge responsibility to not end up working with companies which aim for profit over the health of the public. And yet, to not actively work against those companies is to by default end up working for them. Showing pictures of happy smokers is the same as advertising for those companies, even in a news clip which features an anti-smoking message and a person suffering from illness because of her history of smoking. For this reason too then, I use the word ‘late’ in my title in its other meaning, to also mean ‘dead’ or deceased, and to represent the history of the news media in contributing to the deaths of so many more of their own viewers by not working harder and more honestly in the fight against smoking.

2012 International Women’s Day

Thursday marked the 101st International Women’s Day. Similarly to the history of work against the promotion of smoking, the advance of the right to equality of women around the world has been painfully slow, with many governments continuing to make excuses such as the state of the economy for not supporting women by providing help such as ‘safe homes’ as places of emergency refuge for victims of domestic violence.

Another important way of supporting women was finally achieved only in recent years in Aotearoa/ New Zealand, which included the passing of the Domestic Violence Act of 1995. This allowed the police to enter homes where domestic violence [가정폭력]  is occurring, no longer allowing and empowering men to assault women and escape criminal charge merely because it was their own wife or partner, and home. The availability of the issuance of a ‘Protection Order’  (if someone feels threatened), or a ‘Police Safety Order’ (if the police believe there is a danger to someone within a household – ie. very importantly NOT needing the assent or agreement of the woman involved – ) are very great developments in the laws of land working for the good of women. I really hope my adopted home of South Korea develops something like these two measures for my Korean mothers, sisters, and nieces, sometime very soon. I have seen far too many women and children (male and female) hurt and recovering from obviously traumatic family violence here.

Finally, even though it has taken a number of years, it is good to finally see the message launched only a few years ago reach more widely and have greater impact and reception around the world. This message is that the effects of climate change hit and hurt women and thus by extension again children more than they do men.

The importance of the effects of climate change was underscored by TEDtalks recently hosting the great Dr. James Hansen who spoke about his life’s work studying climate change and then promoting the crucially urgent need to start really dealing with it as a major international problem.

Would you risk arrest for your beliefs? What do you feel strongly enough about that you would ever risk arrest? And, what other grandfathers do you know who would risk arrest for their beliefs?

Despite the fact that Dr James Hansen is obviously a man working hard at promoting this important issue, recent surveys show that it is mostly women who believe in the importance of dealing with climate change. What about you and your friends? How many are women, and how many are men, and of them, which ‘believe’ recent deadly extreme weather events around the world are as a result of climate change caused by ‘man-made’ global warming?

Another commentator draws the links between racism and sexism, and shows, despite her obvious ongoing disdain for racism, that among young people, the effects of sexism are not only more violent, but they are also less openly acknowledged and more widely accepted as simply being okay, and just a matter of current local culture. I agree with this writer that this is a very sad thing to realise, and I hope all such cultures change to a state of greater quality equality and safety for women immediately.

It has been interesting to note the different reactions to International Women’s Day between the UK, the US, and South Korea. The Prime Minister’s office of Great Britain released a report which was quoted heavily in the apparently left-wing news site Huffington Post describing domestic violence as an ‘iceburg,’ and yet the same report was then effectively critiqued by Al Jazeera in what does appear to be a case of balanced journalism, highlighting as it does the cuts by central government in that country to women’s programmes, although not quite putting those cuts in context. In contrast, in the US, one woman in particular is standing out for her stance against the Republican party’s attack on the rights of women there. Teresa Sayward (NY,R) says that she would rather vote for the Democratic President Obama than her own party because of the Republican attack on the rights of women recently.

Teresa Sayward (NY,R)

In Korea, the Korean Herald features a report on international efforts to mark the day almost everywhere except Korea itself. The report is notable for being quite full and long, which is good, and also for featuring a nice large photo of Angelina Jolie’s face, which is never bad exactly, but somewhat distracts from the point of sexism in the most unfortunate way, although yes, one could equally try and argue that it helps attract attention to those points for the men initially interested only in looking at her picture. How strong a position in an argument is this, do you think?

The Korea Times features a weak and wordy editorial by a professor from a university in India, which is easily characterized by its laughable paradox noted between the two lines revealing a pretty bad break from logic. In the first such line, he states: “Man and woman cannot be thought of as separate entities.” And yet nearer the end of the piece, he states: “Women are more existential than men mainly because of the former’s higher emotional quotient including patience, motivation and empathy with others in all circumstances.” Well, which is it, ‘M.M. Goel’ ? Are women the same, or are they different? I am really not sure of this guy’s point. He seems to use big words to drift around the idea of saying not much at all. It is a disappointing way for the Korea Times to mark such an important occasion.

In conclusion then, the abundance of bad quality media attention to an important week of media events merely serves to make the lack of progress on these important issues all the more obvious. The fights – against the power of tobacco companies and for the equal rights of women, in Korea as elsewhere – continue to be difficult, in a large part no doubt because of the very lack of support from the media itself.

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