A Skeptic’s View of the Korean Student Movement

Student protest has a long tradition in Korea, in keeping with the Confucian idea of students as the conscience of society. In 1960 the student movement was a major factor in the overthrow of Pres. Syngman Rhee. After 1960, the student movement moved considerably to the left of its earlier liberal-democratic position. With much righteous indignation, the students claimed that the system was corrupt beyond reform, and they pointed to the military dictatorship of Park Chung-hee and Park’s Yushin Constitution, in which he proclaimed himself “president for life,” the slaughter of hundreds of citizens in the 1980 Kwangju Uprising and

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Military Linguists, Part 3


Like many expatriates, Steve has been in Korea more than once. He first came as a U.S. solider, and then he returned as a civilian teacher of English. The text below is an interview done in the late 1990s. I’ve added a response by one of my students, a Korean who was assigned to the American military.

Steve’s story

When I got on the plane for Seoul, I was excited because I figured I’d studied Korean for an entire year so I’d be able to speak with Koreans. I got off the airplane at Kimpo, and someone started speaking rapidly … Read More

Military Linguists, Part 2

Gabriel is quick, witty, and always full of good stories. Aside from his connection with  the military environment, his experience of culture shock is similar to those civilians have. This interview took place around 1995.

Gabriel’s Story

When I first joined the army, the recruiters told me that if I qualified for the Army linguists’ program I would be offered a selection of languages. I did very well on the Defense Language Aptitude Battery, which tests your ability to learn a foreign language. They told me, “When you get to the language school, you just tell them what language you … Read More