[Letters] The courage to do the right thing

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[Letters] The courage to do the right thing

Thank you for writing the article, but I would not call what the President said as “conglomerate bashing.” He was finally speaking the truth.

It is a shame that President Lee’s administration has allowed the looting of the Korean middle and lower classes to go on for so long as the families which own the conglomerates that control the Korean economy lined their pockets with mafia-style loan sharking.

Years ago, both Taiwan and Japan put a hard stop to the horrible, acidic business of “consumer finance” which is nothing but loan sharking. Why should mafia members go to jail while conglomerate families’ personal “piggy bank” firms are allowed to get away with the same thing?

Isn’t there anyone in President Lee’s administration who understands the basics of economics and finance?

These terrible firms claim that the borrowers are “higher risk,” so they have to charge interest rates which can reach 50 percent in real terms. This is an outrageous and evil trick. Of course the borrowers are riskier if you charge them such high interest rates. This is also known as usury. The borrower can never pay the loans back given such high interest rates. Perhaps if the borrowers were given reasonable interest rates, then they might have a chance to pay them back and thus wouldn’t be “high risk” at all.

It should be no wonder that Islamic law does not allow the charging of interest. Under Shariah banking rules, charging interest is banned precisely because of the evil that it motivates. Muslims were smart enough to figure out the evil of high interest rates, so why aren’t Koreans smart enough to do so?

If Lee wants to have any type of positive legacy - and keep the middle and lower economic classes from being completely buried by the conglomerates - he should immediately direct the FSS and FSC to ban “consumer finance” firms, put a cap on interest rates which can be charged at 20 percent (including the deceptive “special fees” which are often charged), and ask the National Assembly to immediately begin drafting laws to fully separate industrial and financial entities.

None of the large conglomerates which are already sucking the lifeblood out of Korean society in the oil and gas, telecom, agriculture, transport, logistics and manufacturing fields should be allowed to milk society even further by being allowed to get involved in any form of banking, insurance or finance.

These industrial conglomerates should all be banned from owning savings banks, credit unions, consumer finance firms, credit card firms, securities firms and insurance firms.

This is the only way to help give regular Koreans a chance, and force the conglomerates to spend more of their money on investment and job creation instead of devising ways to economically enslave more of the Korean population and deny young Koreans a chance to get a good job.

This is just common sense, something which Lee could use a little more of. I know that he is smart enough to do it. The question is whether or not he and his administration have the courage to do the right thing for the Korean people and for the future of Korea. silkwhisper

A call for new English education

How do middle school and high school students in Korea study English? We memorize vocabulary books by heart, take tests, and solve grammar and reading comprehension questions. But is this really effective? I know for a fact that there are much better ways of improving our English.

After I came back from the U.S. when I was in elementary school, I didn’t go to English academies. Instead of striving to improve my English, I just continued doing my hobbies: watching movies and TV shows, and reading books in English.

Several years of this greatly improved my speaking, listening and vocabulary skills. Moreover, it actually helped me like English and enjoy using it as a part of everyday life. We learn English the fun and easy way when we are little, but as we grow older, we tend to believe that these kind of activities are not serious enough and start studying English the “real” way.

Just because we might feel like we’re studying harder doesn’t mean cramming English words and phrases into our heads is actually effective. How many Korean students will remember words they memorized a long time ago for various English exams? On the other hand, think about how words used in English TV shows stick in your brain. Some high school students who have exams coming up may not have enough time for this strategy, but it is the best way for long-term and practical English language improvement.

Park Ju-young, Gimpo foreign language highschool student
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