[Letter to the editor]Reading the wrong lessons on Koreans’ reading habits

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[Letter to the editor]Reading the wrong lessons on Koreans’ reading habits

It is clear from Cho Eun-ju’s piece in Campus Commentary (Dec. 27, 2006) about the amount of reading done in Korea that she has missed the point of those OECD statistics that she referenced. Even worse, she goes on to completely contradict the numbers that form the basis of her article.
The statistics from her own study completely undermine her own arguments that Koreans are not reading. According to her numbers, 78% of the people (students) she interviewed said that they read at least one to two books a month.
How is this in any way indicative of a population that has no stomach for reading? If anything, this demonstrates a healthy appetite for the written word, not the opposite.
She seems aghast that students are not reading, but the last time I checked, reading a textbook still counts as reading a book, albeit a rather boring one.
She also walks a very fine line in saying that simply reading books will solve “social problems.” If she means that by reading books people will be more isolated, and thus have less chances to incite problems, then she is absolutely correct. But there is no way reading a book will solve any of the problems currently ravaging Africa.
The world has been reading the proverbial book for far too long in regard to these problems.
This is a blatant case of preaching to the choir, in this case, the choir being the students.
If she truly wants to get on her soap box and spread her message to the masses she should take her oratory to those already in the work force. For this is where the true problem lies, and it is in this group that those statistics of the OECD are based.
But it might be that many of these people are already too busy with a boss, a wife, children, a job, a mortgage, and life to get caught up in a book. In a culture where working six days a week is not out of the normal, and having to stay in the office until the boss leaves, it must be certainly harder to find time for a good book.
That is where the “shame” she wants to force on to people should be focused.
Karl Friedhoff, Seoul

The best Korean president is one who achieves the most for the country
Since the founding of the Republic of Korea, there have been nine presidents who have sacrificed themselves in order to make Korea into a better country. Naturally, maybe due to different party loyalties, people have either favored or detested these presidents.
According to a recent survey, almost half of Korea’s citizens think that former president Park Chung Hee (1963-1979) has led this country far better than any other president.
Mr. Park’s policies led Korea to decrease the gap between the rich and the poor and also constructed a highway from Seoul to Busan which is still benefiting Korea.
However, negative opinions of Mr. Park’s rule also exist because he wasn’t democratically elected but became president through a coup d’etat.
The point is, even though there are extremes of opinion about Mr. Park, many people believe he was the greatest president of Korea due to the results of his policies.
The 17th presidential election is coming up and currently, the country is wondering about President Roh’s achievements.
For the sake of Korea, future presidents must have the ability to focus on achieving their goals for this country.
Kim Min-chan, a student at Kwacheon Foreign Language High School
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