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Welcome to Expacked (Issue #95)

November 20, 2010

There was never any question as to what the leading stories this week would be – Exam Day.  Its one of the most important days of the year for Korean schools and its amazing the amount of pressure and expectation is placed on the students taking the exams.  Have a read of the first couple of stories below to help gain a little more insight into just how big last Thursday’s exam was.

I was forwarded this great video the other day.  ‘Changing Education Paradigms’ really gets you thinking about how and what we are teaching our kids. 

Here are the teaching related stories this week:

Feel free to comment on any of these stories and continue to share Expacked with your friends. Enjoy the read and, of course, have a good laugh at this week’s jokes.





Great fuss on college exam day

“Oh, my God! I am at the wrong place,” cried a male student who found himself at Pungmoon Girls’ High School, one of the state-administered college admittance test venues in downtown Seoul, Thursday.

The student, who had made a wrong turn at one of the most crucial times of his life, asked for help from a policeman near the school. It was almost 8 a.m., just 40 minutes before the critical exam began. Considering his test venue was in Wangsimni, a 30-minute drive away, the college hopeful was in a very urgent situation, but fortunately he got a lift on the back of a police motorbike.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: The Korea Times)

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Korean Exam Day

This November 18th was one of the most important days in the life of a Korean high school student. High school students in their last year of high school (also known as 3rd grade) took their university entrance exams.

This exam is what most of them have been studying for their entire high school careers. Some students start preparing for it in middle school. Middle school! WOW! Once the students reach high school, they stay late for “self study” time.

Thanks to Eat Your Kimchi

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: Eat Your Kimchi)

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English teachers look to change their image

One of Korea’s biggest foreign English teacher associations is taking an enlightened approach against the fight on mandatory HIV testing by correcting, rather than complaining about, the public’s image of English teachers as promiscuous party animals.

Required HIV testing for visas, one that many slam as discriminatory, has been implemented by the government since 2007. As of now, testing remains for E-2 visas.

National Communications Officer Rob Ouwehand of the Association of Teachers of English in Korea believes that the regulatory testing stems from both the fear of English teachers and HIV, both of which can be cured with knowledge.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: The Korean Herald)

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School in Jeollabuk-do imports Indian English teacher

Kang Shin-who has written a pair of articles in the Korea Times about a private school in Wanju county that has imported an Indian English teacher, the first of his kind:

[A] small private school in North Jeolla Province has challenged this prejudice by inviting the first-ever Indian English teacher here last September. Wanju High School became the destination of the teacher, Abby Thomas, who made English education history in Korea. Although some cautiously raised concerns that it may be difficult to understand an Indian English accent, the school students, parents and other fellow teachers responded positively to the Indian teacher.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: Brian in Jeollanam-do)

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Positive changes needed at school

Taking the helm of the education ministry is a tough job in Korea where all parents are experts when it comes to issues about how to educate their children. Since the inception of the Lee Myung-bak administration in 2008, education policies have undergone major changes and a lot of experiments are still going on at schools.

From the introduction of the evaluation of teachers to the expansion of admissions officer system at universities, at the center of all these new and controversial educational programs is Education Minister Lee Ju-ho.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: The Korea Times)

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Long-term English employment pool is shallow, instructors report

Hundreds of applicants stood in line in front of a Seoul high school on Nov 6. Among them was Kim Jeong-min (32, assumed name), who joined the others to take an employment test to become a teacher at the school.

That day, Kim wore a heavy expression. She took the test to become a regular English instructor, and the school would select just one individual. If chosen, it would be Kim’s fourth place of work, but passing the test in South Korea is reportedly like passing through the eye of a needle.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: The Hankyoreh)

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Ban on corporal punishment leaves schools perplexed

With many teachers facing difficulty controlling students following the ban on corporal punishment, the Seoul education office came out with a guidebook on how to deal with unruly students. The book contains detailed guidelines on how to discipline unruly students without physical punishment. School Punishment

For instance, if a student comes to school wearing a school uniform that is overly modified, the manual suggests that the uniform be seized for a certain period and give the student a spare uniform. If a student refuses to follow teachers’ instruction during class, it stipulates that teachers should call the student to the staff room instead of scolding him or her in the classroom.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: The Korea Times)

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Your Guide to Thanksgiving in Korea

It’s that time of year again! Kick off the holiday season with a genuine Thanksgiving dinner. Whether you’re a local or expat, you can enjoy the various dining and take out options many restaurants, hotels, and catering services have to offer all over Korea. Take advantage of our comprehensive list of locations celebrating Thanksgiving to experience a little piece of home (and food coma).


Friday, November 19th

NEW! Gangnam Hills Toastmasters Club at 100ek Cafe in Gangnam

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: 10 Magazine)

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ATEK Press Release: Letter from the President

Dear ATEK Members:

Some of you are wondering why ATEK’s forums shut down for nearly a week, and the website closed for a day. First of all, as ATEK’s President, I would like to apologize if any of you were inconvenienced by this.

Some of you are wondering why ATEK’s forums shut down for nearly a week, and the website closed for a day.  First of all, as ATEK’s President, I would like to apologize if any of you were inconvenienced by this.

The closing of the website and forums was the result of a series of communications between the ATEK’s National Council, the National Executive, and the Ethics Committee, during which Ethics defended ATEK’s Bylaws, the National Council defended their autonomy, the National Executive took sides. During this, communications became increasingly personal and unproductive.  The Internal Communications Officer, who is responsible for effective communication among ATEK officers, shut down communications, believing that the e-mail and comment forum communications in progress had ceased to be productive.

A situation like this teaches an organization how to become stronger.  While ATEK’s leadership bodies, the National Executive, the National Council, and the Ethics Committee, are now taking steps toward reconciliation and preventing a recurrence of this kind of situation, I would like to assure you that, as President, the integrity of the Association is important to me, and that means there must be accountability.

It was disappointing to see a breakdown in communication between ATEK officers. To restore integrity, I have asked Tom Rainey-Smith, ATEK’s first President, to conduct an informal investigation into the communication breakdown we have had.  He will investigate the causes of the problems we have had and make recommendations to discipline those officers who were acting outside their duties, or outside common courtesy, as well as make recommendations to prevent a recurrence of this situation.  As a former president of ATEK, Tom has demonstrated a vested interest in ATEK’s success, and he has demonstrated his integrity and passion to help ATEK accomplish its mission.  I trust him to make recommendations that will help ATEK grow as an organization.

In the meantime, I am asking the Bodies of the Association: the National Council, the National Executive, and the Ethics Committee, to go back to ATEK’s Bylaws, our constitution, and write a report explaining their understanding of how this conflict got out of hand and how they understand their roles and responsibilities within the framework of ATEK, as described in our Bylaws.  Nobody in ATEK is above the Bylaws, and it is only by restoring integrity and by renewing our respect for the Bylaws and for the other officers and Bodies of the Association that

ATEK will become a stronger organization than it is today.

In solidarity


Jaehee Oh,



(Source: ATEK)

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Time magazine names Korea’s English-teaching robot one of the year’s best inventions

Top-whatever numerical lists are totally lame, but it might be worth passing along that Time magazine named South Korea’s English-teaching robot as one of its 50 Best Inventions of 2010. Call it the job terminator.

South Korea, which employs some 30,000 foreigners to teach English, has plans for a new addition to its language classrooms: the English-speaking robot. Students in a few schools started learning English from the robo-teachers late last year; by the end of this year, the government hopes to have them in 18 more schools. The brightly colored, squat androids are part of an effort to keep South Korean students competitive in English.

Not surprisingly, the proposal has worried a few human teachers — and with good reason. Experts say the bots could eventually phase out flesh-and-blood foreign English teachers altogether.

Click Here for the Full Story (Source: Brian in Jeollanam-do)

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This week’s Jokes:

1) Philosophy Exam

An eccentric philosophy professor gave a one question final exam after a semester dealing with a broad array of topics.128px-Empedocles_in_Thomas_Stanley_History_of_Philosophy

The class was already seated and ready to go when the professor picked up his chair, plopped it on his desk and wrote on the board: “Using everything we have learned this semester, prove that this chair does not exist.”

Fingers flew, erasers erased, notebooks were filled in furious fashion. Some students wrote over 30 pages in one hour attempting to refute the existence of the chair. One member of the class however, was up and finished in less than a minute.

Weeks later when the grades were posted, the rest of the group wondered how he could have gotten an “A” when he had barely written anything at all. His answer consisted of two words:

“What chair?”

2) Thinking On Your Feet

There was a boy who worked in the produce section of the market. A man came in and asked to buy half a head of lettuce. The boy told him that they only sold whole heads of lettuce, but the man replied that he did not need a whole head, but only a half head. The boy said he would go ask his manager about the matter.

The boy walked into the back room and said, “There’s some jerk out there who wants to buy only a half a head of lettuce.” As he was finishing saying this he turned around to find the man standing right behind him, so he added, “and this gentleman wants to buy the other half…

The manager okayed the deal and the man went on his way. Later the manager called on the boy and said, “You almost got yourself in a lot of trouble earlier, but I must say I was impressed with the way you got yourself out of it. You think on your feet and we like that around here. Where are you from son?” The boy replied, “Canada sir.”

“Oh really? Why did you leave Canada?” asked the manager. The boy replied, “They’re all just whores and hockey players up there.”

“Really,” replied the manager, “My wife is from Canada!!”

The boy replied, “No kidding! What team did she play for?


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