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2018-12 24

[Faculty]Thoughts on Korean English Education

Although English is not an official language in Korea, it is still considered a mandatory part of education from primary to college. Especially because English exam scores have become a basic requirement for jobs or any other program applications today, gaining competency in the language is now a competition for Korean students from an early age. Lee Kwang-hee, a professor in the Department of English Language and Literature and a current member of the board of directors at Korea Munhwasa (한국문화사), a renowned publishing company in Korea, has shared his life story and thoughts on this phenomenon. Lee Kwang-hee (Department of English Language and Literature) is sharing his life story and thoughts during the interview in his office at Korea Munhwasa (한국문화사). Lee’s deep affection for English began in his college years at Hanyang. With his profound love for the school, Lee completed all his bachelor's, master's, and doctor's degrees at Hanyang University, all in the department of English Language and Literature. According to Lee, his choice of department was not due to his passion but because his highest score was in English, which made him think he had a talent in it. However, life as a student in this department completely changed his path. “You don’t learn how to speak better English in this department. Rather, you learn about the literature and human language, which is part of our life and instinct. In other words, you study about life and human nature, while using English instead of Korean,” said Lee. Despite his skills and competency, Lee had not always planned on becoming a professor from the start. According to Lee, his life as an English department student was always unclear, especially as the Korean economy was at its lowest point at that time due to IMF. Luckily, Lee found some recruitment advertisements for English academies and decided to apply to become an English teacher. However, he had to face constant rejections as he was quite young, and HYU was renowned more for its technology departments than language departments. “In the end, my desperation got me through. I was finally teaching in one of the academies, but because I wasn’t getting enough students or teaching bigger classes, I was barely surviving with the minimum wage,” said Lee. Lee also has over 15 books published that are loved and used by students throughout the country. Fortunately for Lee, he was able to quickly gain his popularity and recognition as an English teacher after substituting for one of the bigger classes. With this turn of events, he quickly became one of the high-earning, popular teachers that taught classes everyday. There were endless calls for him, and at one point, he thought he was living the best life. However, years had passed, and Lee was constantly feeling a void that could not be filled. One day during a class, he realized that he had become a simple technician and a parrot that teaches students on how to solve questions, rather than why they work that way. With a recommendation from his professor, Lee went on to obtain his master's degree at HYU. “I remember why I fell in love with learning English. Learning a language is like developing a whole new world in you. A language has its own system and mechanisms like science, and one should be able to utilize it with intuition. I realized that that is what English education in Korea has been lacking. When I'm teaching, I mostly see students that are simply trained to speak English. They don’t speak the language because they truly understand it. Students treat it like it’s some sort of simple technical equation because that’s what they’ve been trained to do their whole lives, and this applies to all languages being taught in Korea.” "I hope more talented intellectuals or even students with creative ideas for bettering the Brown Study would feel free to contact me. It's an open, digitalized platform for everyone." To the current situation, Lee added that the intellectuals are also at fault. “I think that this kind of problem exists because the studies and realizations that us intellectuals have remain in our own league. There needs to be better communication among the language intellectuals as educators and students." Lee commented that it would be the best if those with a language degree from universities become teachers at English academies and pass on what they have learned in universities to their students. With this in mind, Lee has created an online study platform called the Brown Study in hopes of creating an open, digitalized platform with all kinds of study materials in the language and humanities field that anyone can access. This way, even professors who have retired or any other intellectuals can leave their work online and teach the students who wish to truly learn more than just the simple technicalities. “I hope this can become a communication outlet for both students and intellectuals. I believe that as long as you’re always intellectually curious and keep an open mind, you will always succeed,” said Lee. Park Joo-hyun julia1114@hanyang.ac.kr Photos by Lee Jin-myung

2018-03 26

[Faculty]Story of a Self-Taught Professional Mountain Photographer

Known as a mountainous country, South Korea is famous for the year-round beauty of both small and huge mountains along with never-ending groups of hikers. Despite the obvious attraction of the mountains’ natural aspects, it is still possible for people to miss the hidden beauty in the depths of the mountains. It is these moments that Cho Myung-hwan (Department of Electronic Engineering, ’82), the passionate self-made photographer, likes to catch. Turning Point at the Age 50 Cho was not a professional photographer from the start. In fact, ever since Cho graduated from Hanyang University (HYU) as an electronic engineering student, he had been working at a few IT related companies for about 10 years before voluntary retirement at the age 50. According to Cho, he had promised himself that when he turned 50, he would do something that he truly loved and had passion for. However, this did not mean he switched to photography right away. “Now that I look back, I did love photography ever since I was a HYU student. I was a part of a photography circle that I truly preferred over classes.” According to Cho, in 2004 he started hiking Baekdu Mountain and ran into a friend with whom he promised to later complete the whole Baekdudaegan Mountain Range hiking course. Every Saturday for 2 years, they hiked together, and Cho used the opportunities to take pictures which he then uploaded on his blog, attracting much attention and praise from his surrounding followers. “I’m a self-taught professional mountain photographer of 14 years, and I am still working and studying very hard everyday to improve,” said Cho. As a mountain photographer When asked if he had ever been interested in taking photos of other subjects, Cho instantly replied that he is only interested in mountains. He believes that Korean mountains hold the true Korean soul and identity, and that he wants to capture and show it through his pictures. He also does not like what has been touched and trampled on by people, so he only wants to capture the raw beauty of nature. That is why all the photo books he has self-published include “raw things” in the title. Cho said, “What I’m doing is a form of art and expression. You need to learn how to appreciate and understand the mountain in order to take good pictures. If you hike just to take pictures, those pictures are never going to become more than just ‘a picture.’” For years he had gone hiking day and night regardless of the time in order to capture the rare moments of natural beauty. His schedule, thus, was never fixed as he had to hike on rainy and snowy days, and even at dawn and the deepest darkest nights. He believes that creativity is always the most important part of art and has never been afraid to take on challenges to photograph these untouched parts and moments of the mountain that most hikers are not really aware of. However, it is not always easy, even for an experienced hiker like Cho, as it is quite common for him to hike for more than 6 hours and take hundreds of pictures without getting any satisfactory results. “Even if it is supposedly one of the worst situations you can ever be in, you should learn to accept it and give it your all. If it still doesn’t turn out the way you would have liked, then learn to be satisfied with what you have then.” Never-ending passion Cho has also consistently been working on calendars and books and opening photo galleries in order to give the public more access to his pictures. He mentioned that the hardest part of being a photographer was not in the physical, but financial aspects. For 14 years he did not have stable income even with the ID photo studio that he owns. He has also had to find ways to publish all the books and calendars of his photos at a cheaper price. Later on he even learned how to design them from scratch himself and sold them on the internet. “This is why a lot of people are scared to try something new. I also wouldn’t recommend for young people to simply go for it, to be honest. If you’re old like me, that’s a different story. If you’re young, I’d say you have a stable job first, and then try it as a side job,” said Cho. Along with his realistic advice, Cho mentioned how he wants to continue hiking and photographing the raw beauty of mountains in Korea, but also in other countries if he ever gets the chance to. Park Joo-hyun julia1114@hanyang.ac.kr Photos by Choi Min-ju