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Reaction to: North Korea Opening Up to Cell Phones (historical) December 5, 2011

Filed under: historical — gloriaayoon @ 10:47 am

I come from a North Korean ancestry, meaning that my ancestors were born and raised in the northern parts of the Korean peninsula. It makes me cringe to think of the possibility that, if my ancestors hadn’t moved south, I would be living in North Korea right this moment. I shudder, thinking of all the restrictions I just could have been living under, like the law that establishes cell phones as dangerous and illegal. The use of cell phones had always either been minimal or banned in North Korea up until 2008. Since then, the number of cell phone users had been growing gradually and it is now about to reach its one millionth user.

I believe this means something more than just a technological advance (seeing that the North Koreans are already very advanced with nuclear bombs, which are way above the level of cell phones). This means good news for us capitalists. I believe that, as the North Korean citizens who were so isolated and cut off from the rest of the world, starts to use the technology that the rest of the world uses, they will start looking for more ways to indirectly connect with other societies, to achieve a sense of belonging. They will want more changes and developments. Maybe this brewing desire of the people would burst out and lead to an overthrowing of this North Korean government!

That would just be the naïve and desperate wish of a dreamer. Of course the North Korean government would not allow themselves to be overthrown, especially by the people who they played god over. These cell phones are probably the one of the only things in North Korea that does not have the government fully interfering. It’s one of the closest things the North Koreans have to freedom. Everything they watch, hear, read, and even think over there is a product that has gone through under the meticulous scrutiny of the censorship laws. This is unfair and cruel to the people. They are people with the equal rights as all of the other people in the world! Who is Kim Jung Il that he controls life and death and happiness and pain of the people.

I felt that the banning of the use of cell phones was a sign of weakness in our all powerful, dear leader, as he probably already saw the possibility of his power collapsing through the chain of events that may be triggered by the use of cell phones. I’m sure that there is a deeper purpose under this rapid increase of the use of this capitalist device—perhaps a show of freedom, or another carefully crafted method, to brainwash his puppets, but disguised in a harmless way.

North Korea is like the happy, seemingly innocent theme parks, with the smiling mascots and jolly music playing—everything seems fine on the surface. However, all this is planned and faked. People are brainwashed and hurt (hurt would be an understatement) and all their freedom is stripped from them. They can be put on capital punishment for almost anything they do. Frankly, there’s almost nothing we can do from outside the tightly sealed walls of North Korea, no matter how much we wish for the freedom of the people. Although many would argue that this is an over idealistic and overrated thing to do, all we can do is pray, pray, and pray. Keep the struggling North Koreans in our thoughts and hope for the best, as the end of the all powerful leader’s reign approaches closer and closer each day.


The Mentors: Bruce vs Yoda (historical) November 14, 2011

Filed under: historical — gloriaayoon @ 1:37 am

Josh Waitzkin’s success and achievements wouldn’t have been possible without his mentor, Bruce Pandolfini. Mentorship, as we know it today, is based on the historical craftsman-to-apprentice relationship, where young people learned the arts by following the master artist. Having this sort of mentor to guide, teach, and influence, is important for a student to progress. In this way, Luke Skywalker’s achievements wouldn’t have been possible with his mentor, Yoda. Both Yoda and Bruce played extremely influential roles in the lives of their apprentices. Although they have drastically different material written in each of their biographies, they were both excellent mentors who understood their students and stayed by their side till the end.

Yoda and Bruce had their apparent differences. Besides the obvious like looking drastically different, talking in syntaxes, and being from planets light years away from each other, they had differences in life stories. Yoda was a little green man from another planet in some other galaxy out there. Weakened in a fight against the Sith Lord, he had retreated and gone into hiding into a swampy planet. Bruce, however, was just an average human being from planet Earth. He was defeated in a game of chess, and as a result, had removed himself from competitive chess, in tattered self esteem and courage. Although these two men were in two incredibly different settings and situations, they were both sought out by their student-to-be’s and were lifted out from their hiding places by them. Both were hesitant about becoming an influential figure to somebody again, but they later accepted the challenge, marking the start of the relationships.

Different people (and aliens) prefer different types of learning depending on their different cognitive skills. Therefore, teaching methods and philosophies differed in both Yoda and Bruce. Yoda used the physically demanding ways to teach values like patience and perseverance. In that famous scene in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, he had Luke piggy-back him and run around the swamps. He had Luke perform many physically demanding, but seemingly useless activities, like moving stones with the Force, over and over again. He believed that “Do or do not, there is not try”. Yoda was training faith in Luke to believe in whatever outcome he expected to make it happen. Bruce, on the other hand, had Josh solving problems mentally. In one scene, Bruce clears the chess board of all the pieces and has Josh visualizing the solution that way. Bruce added a twist to these exercises: Josh had to solve the problems just like Bobby Fischer would; there was no freedom or creativity allowed. Bruce was training Josh to depend on the methods that were already known to be successful and never on what his guts told him. Despite their differences in philosophy and methods, Yoda and Bruce were both ultimately aiming for their student to reach the highest level. This is why, at one point, both Yoda and Bruce had a time to reflect on their teachings and decide that maybe their teachings weren’t the best for Luke and Josh after all. They both cared for their apprentices enough that they changed their own teaching methods and philosophy. Although these two mentors seem to have totally different ways of teaching, in the long run, they are the same in their motives and reasons.

One responsibility that mentors have is to not abandon their students to be left alone, lost and confused about how to go on. Bruce did a fine job of keeping this responsibility. Even when he was asked to end the relationship with Josh, he returns later to check on him to make sure that Josh was still playing chess like he was taught. Unfortunately for Luke, Yoda dies of old age after a long 900 years of life, leaving Luke to fight Lord Sidius and the Sith Lord by himself, without anyone’s support. However, the truth is, Yoda was with Luke all along. When Yoda died, he disappeared and became one with the Force. When Luke was using the Force, Yoda’s presence was all around him, and in the last scene of the movie, Luke sees Yoda’s spirit looking down at him in a sign of approval. It may have seemed like one mentor just left his apprentice to cope on his own, but actually, both mentors were there till the very end.

Mentors are very important figures in people’s lives. They are the ones that help you believe in yourself by telling you the things you need to hear. Yoda and Bruce were key figures in the lives of Luke Skywalker and Josh Waitzkin. They wouldn’t have been able to get to where they were without these mentors guiding them. Living in entirely different situations, there were dissimilarities in the two mentors’ background, beliefs, and roles. However, at the end of it all, they were both the same great teacher that loved and cared immensely for their student.