Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Korean On "Ungroup The Koreans"

Strangely, this week's online edition of The Weekly Sillimanian did not post a letter from Jeong Jin Tae. This student was delegated by the president of the Korean Fellowship of Students to react against the article (italics mine). As it was a letter and not a regular feature, it wasn't among the online articles. It would have been nice though for the staff to include it though. First. it would have shown their online readers some integrity and more importantly, I would just have to [Ctrl]+C then [Ctrl]+V.

Reactions to the "Ungroup The Koreans" article were mildly reminiscent of the Malu Fernandez brouhaha. Urban legend has it that the writer has not returned to class since the article came out and that threats were imminent.

Here are excerpts from the letter.

Personally, I felt so sad and angry at the same time. I understand that it was written to challenge the Korean students in Silliman, but there were a lot of negative and hurtful comments which were inappropriate. Allow me to enumerate some of them:

Most of them are white, chinky, and all of them come from South Korea. If you guessed who I'm talking about then you're a genius. South Koreans are all over the place!

...[Korean students] feel that our appearance was ridiculed and discriminated. But mind you, even the Chinese and Japanese have a similar appearance.

...Dumaguete City is starting to look like a Korean Colony. sounds very derogatory and makes [us] seem like we are a threat to Dumaguete. He could have been more sensitive and used a fairer term to describe us.

I prefer to call them just plain Koreans like most of us do because those North Korean communists don't even exist outside their own country, and to my observation, their country is like a gigantic, high-security prison. I would seriously freak out if I see a North Korean walking down the streets of Dumaguete City.

When you accuse a nation, don't ever be ignorant of what is actually going on. You should be careful because you come from a different culture... [North and South Korea] are one even though we are separated by... political ideologies... It's just like how [Filipinos] feel when somebody talks bad about Mindanao or Luzon.

Obviously, Koreans come to the Philippines to study English.

Not all Koreans come here to study English because a lot of us come here to experience a new culture to broaden our minds.

There are Korean students who have been here in Silliman for more than two years, and still their English is the same as before.

I am sure that some of us Koreans speak better English than some Filipinos.

...I haven't seen a decent Korean student get better in English, despite all the education that person is getting. And so we ask, "What gives?" There is nothing wrong with the English education that Silliman provides them.

Have you seen all the Koreans here in Silliman? Honestly, [English Orientation here] is not good enough compared to the other English institutions...

This is the reason why Koreans prefer to group together rather than playing around with their new Filipino friends. Its not that they make it hard for us to understand them, we make it hard for them to understand us. And because of this, they lose confidence in communicating with us and stick to the group where communication is not an inconvenience. We should not forget that we Filipinos have English as our second language. We know it better than Koreans do. So in general, it is us who should accommodate them.

...don't Filipinos also prefer to group together rather than mingle with Koreans? ...English is not exclusively a second language for Filipinos, but also for other people all over the world.

Silliman being branded as a Korean refugee camp isn't a bad thing after all.

There are many terms to use to describe a second home. This statement makes us mad.

Ungroup the Koreans!

The title should be..."Accomodate the Koreans!" instead. The title chosen by the writer makes it seem like he wants to pick a fight...

I'll restrain giving my opinions and urge to edit nalang. It will be my contribution to the issue.


  1. I think the Koreans are misunderstanding the use of the words Mr. Katima wrote. Sure he may have been a bit too aggressive with the way he wrote, but all he wanted to do is help them. The Koreans should be open minded enough to see that. They only blame him because of the words used. That goes to show that Mr. Katima is right. Koreans really need to hangout with us Filipinos more so that they would not judge us unfairly.

    My honest opinion would be: Suthai did nothing wrong. The Koreans are being very harsh and close minded about this issue.

  2. As writers on any form of electronic or printed environmment, we have a duty to deliver a message. Both the message and its delivery are crucial elements, regardless of how passionate one is about the subject.

    Honestly, I thought the article bordered on racism and it was my Filipino family (5 go to SU, one of which is staff of the Sillimanian) who brought my attention to the article.

    However much the facts are true (it's still debatable), the message got lost because of the style and content. It's a pity because this one article could have been a positive catalyst for change. (In that scenario, Mr. Katima would have been a hero). Instead, it became a word war and put the Koreans on the defensive.

    All because of the wrong choice of words.