[KS] Korean Universities

Adam Bohnet mixoparth at yahoo.ca
Thu Dec 8 04:08:50 EST 2005

I may be lucky (my Korean university experience has
been mostly Kangwon National University with some at
Sogang) I haven't suffered anything at the low level
of quality mentioned by Mr. Wang. Most of my
instruction has been quite regular (very few hyuhaks),
and, on the whole, when profs did hyuhak, I was rather
glad, because it gave me a brief break from the
spine-tingling horror of presenting a paper in Korean
nearly every week, and sometimes more than twice a

I have my share of resentments (of all systems, Korean
or Canadian), but I would like to make one comment in
defence of  Korean academic culture. Much academic
work (commenting on other people's papers in
conferences, for instance) anywhere is done for free.
Abstract translation (of which I have done masses) is
very difficult but usually educational and not too
time-consuming (depending on the subject, and of
course, on how frequently the requests for help are
made - at a moderate level, it can help with
literature review). At Kangwon I received a great deal
of free instruction in classical Chinese as well, so I
cannot complain. Not to carve sidabari on the back of
my scull, but I suppose I will do a great deal for
free food and alcohol - provided I also get a proper
thank you.I think many graduate students are the same.
Full blown papers should involve some pretty
considerable financial recompense, of course, as they
are a lot of work.

But Mr. Wang is quite right that, if his work doesn't
seem to be appreciated in the present, it is unlikely
to be rewarded in the future - all graduate students
in any system, but especially in Korea, need to have
their own rules about what they will or will not do.
It takes time for foreign graduate students to gain
the sense of where and how they can reject the demands
of a professor and senior; most Koreans learn about
this quite early, of course, from their quarrels with
their parents and relatives. And, as I think Dr.
Tikhanov suggests, the Herbaceous God-Help-Us in any
system  flourishes especially luxuriantly in the upper
reaches of the Professional Stream.

Yours Sincerely,

Adam Bohnet


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