Although it is already May, because Spring this year was so cold, new sprouts have just settled down to grow strong, turning from yellow-green to deep green. New changes have been made in The UOS Times which will help us grow even stronger as well. Two new professors have been recently made part of The UOS Times! Lee Joo-kyeong, a professor of Dept. of English Language and Literature, is now with us as the faculty advisor, and John Grimmett, a professor of College English Center, as the senior editor. Here are few words from Prof. Lee and Prof. Grimmett to the students of the University of Seoul as well as the reporters of The UOS Times!
It hasn’t been unusual to see people looking at their smart phones on the subway or bus. Whether standing or sitting, they all seem to be addicted to their own private enigmas, completely ignoring what happens to others. Nothing is visible or audible, especially to those with earphones stuck into their ears. Most of them might be just browsing the internet or enjoying their brain candy, but it is far less common to find people reading a book or even a newspaper in public transportation since smart phones were introduced on the market.
This trend was recently reflected in a survey conducted by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. The number of Koreans who read at least one book a year has been in dramatic decline, 71.7% in 2009 to 65.4% in 2010. This figure might not even reach 50% this year. In addition, more than 40% of Koreans spend their spare time watching TV or searching the internet while a merely 5% of them read books.
Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, always carries a book with him. Even though he is the leader of the world’s largest PC company, he asserts ironically that a computer cannot substitute for a book, attributing his success to the small library in the village where he lived in his childhood. Historically renowned leaders like him commonly have a habit of reading books. I strongly believe that those who succeed in life undoubtedly like to read regardless of the fields they are engaged in. Their creative, imaginative, and insightful thinking originates in their reading. Books are a plentiful source of inspiration as well as knowledge. This also applies when learning a language. Reading is always prior to other language skills like speaking, writing, and listening. It helps learners build a set of logical expressions and grammatical structures for writing. It fosters both accuracy and speed in cognitive processes, thus increasing one’s ability to encode and decode sentences in speaking and listening. I have seen that those with the impressive English are almost all book lovers.
I remember a statement from a magazine column: if you read one book per month for 12 straight months, you will be in the top 25 percentile of the world’s intellectuals. If reading is so unappealing that you need a plan ? a new year’s resolution or a trick to actually do it, you may be aliterate. A country full of aliterates will definitely have no future or hope. Leave your smart device alone for a while. Just pick up a book that you bought but haven’t read yet and start to read it right now. Be an intellectual!
From the Editor
Welcome to the 133rd issue of The UOS Times. My name is John Grimmett, and I am the new senior editor. It is a pleasure and a privilege to work with this talented group of young people for the next few issues. After editing just one issue, I have learned a tremendous amount about the University and its students-their perceptions, concerns, and values.
Before I say more about what I’ve learned, though, let me tell you a bit about myself. I am originally from the southern U.S., having grown up in Alabama, Georgia, and Florida. I earned my Master’s degree in English Literature from Auburn University-famous for its football, but also recently as the alma mater of Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, which I mention just to help people remember the name “Auburn.”
I have lived and taught in Korea since 1992. For the first half of my career, throughout the 1990’s, and then again in the early 2000’s, I taught English at Yonsei University. I have also taught at Korea University, Hanyang University, and Seoul Institute of the Arts. The University of Seoul, however, has been the best position since that golden age of my career, in the ’90s, at Yonsei University. Why, you may ask. This is because the students are highly motivated, and many of them are liberal and idealistic. This was true of students in the 1990’s as well.
Although I have spent most of my life as a teacher, I have spent some time as a journalist, as well. I took a break from Korea between 1999 and 2002 to work as a news reporter in Los Angeles. While there, I focused in my reporting and writing on urban and cultural issues-subject matter very similar to what the writers of The UOS Times are tackling.
I can see the idealism and progressive, questioning attitudes of UOS students in the articles I have read and edited for the 133rd issue. In an article on the dilemma surrounding textbooks, I sense a strong desire for change toward a new model for publishing and for fair access to the information needed for learning. I sense a humble questioning toward educators and publishers, and these questions will not be resolved easily. In an article that unfolds the stigma of depressive disorders, I sense a desire for greater compassion and a new need to accept humans with all of their fears and sorrows. And in an article that offers a street tour of public art in Singapore, I see national and pan-Asian pride, and I hear a call to everyone that if you are young and Korean, the future is in your hands. As the writer of that last article declares, great societies are built by taking the lessons of the past and moving them along, transforming them into a far greater future.
That is the spirit of UOS, with all of its difficulties, and this issue of The UOS Times presents a fine portrait of that spirit.
I offer a sincere thank you to the staff of The UOS Times for the opportunity to serve as your editor. I look forward to guiding and learning more along with you.