Independent Novel Study
The book, “One Thousand Chestnut Trees: a novel of Korea” by Mira Stout revolves around the themes of loss, death, survival and hope. The themes were not solely depicted in the characters of the story, particularly, the Min clan, but also through the different devastating challenges that the unified Korea went through during the Japanese occupation, World War II and the civil war with the Communists. Loss was always present during those times and made more difficult by the numerous death brought by the colonization of the Japanese. However, the story did not solely deal with the negative events but also showed how those left from the fateful events tried to pick up what was left of them, survived the ordeal and learned to hope again for better days.
The theme of loss was very evident as it was depicted in the character of Anne’s mother, who painstakingly endured the loss of her Korean family to achieve her dreams of studying in the United States. From a close-knit family, she chose to leave Korea and the rest of her family for greener pastures through studies in the US. This feeling of loss never left her and when asked by her daughter about her past in Korea, she stated that “Han is sorrow and yearning and resentment; it lasts centuries, and never goes away. It is at the core of us” (p.11). Anne’s mother was part of the Min clan who was once aristocrats in the old Korea but was stripped -off of honor and wealth by the Japanese. Their loss of wealth eventually led to the disintegration of their family.
Korea also experienced loss when many of its citizens were murdered, stripped-off of properties and treasures and their noses cut off from their faces by the Japanese. Alongside the pain of loss experienced by the Koreans were the pains of seeing deaths almost everywhere because of war and their fight for freedom: “Everywhere you looked, there were charred bodies, women, children, old people, soldier of both sides, lay curled on the ground in eerie stillness, blackened, and disfigured” (p. 195).
However, the novel was not purely themed towards loss and deaths but it also provides the readers with the sense of hope despite series of struggles. Despite the struggles that the mother of Anne felt during their three-month hiding from the Communists, she felt a sense of hope when her brother Jin-ho appeared in their hiding place and offered her the opportunity to work with the American forces: “Myung-ja, you should go along to the air force personnel office on Monday and see about a job; there is a clerical position going. You studied English. It would be fine”, Jin-ho told me” (p. 199). Her hopes further bloomed when she eventually got a scholarship to study in the US. Anne’s grandfather and the rest of the Koreans also found hope when they learned that the Japanese had surrendered, the World War II was over and later on, the communists were taken-over.
Overall, the novel has invigorated the fact that loss, deaths, survival and hope are universal. The author has shown that these are not exclusive to people but could be experienced even by countries.
Discuss how blogs and social networking have altered our daily usage of the internet and the World Wide Web
People used to line up in postal offices just to send letters to their friends and loved ones. It was not only time consuming but quite costly especially if there were lots to send letters to. But thanks to the World Wide Web and email came into existence. A letter that takes weeks to reach its destination can be sent and received now in a matter of seconds through email. Even the usual practice of reading newspaper was replaced by web browsing. Moreover, the internet has also introduced social networking sites such as Facebook where friends and relatives from distant memories are reconnected and can chat with each other anytime. The World Wide Web became a part of people’s daily lives providing access to the latest news, online shopping, paying bills, instant messaging, up-to-date weather reports and infinite source of information about anything under the sun. Ramtin (2010) states ‘that web 2.0 revolutionized the usability and user experience of the internet in 2004. It was the new version of the World Wide Web which enables collaboration and sharing of information between people online.’ Bleicher (2006) adds ‘that web 2.0 concept includes blogs and wikis.’ Blogs promote self expression, giving an ordinary man a chance to voice out his opinion, share his thoughts and gets opinions of other people. Ramtin (2010) ‘defines blog as some sort of an online diary which also provides commentary or inputs on a particular topic or event.’ The emergence of blogs developed scientific observers, citizen journalists and movie critics who are followed and widely read. In addition, Griffith & Brandis (2006) state ‘that blogs became a tool of politicians on their speeches and campaign trail.’ Learmoth (2008) divulges ‘that President Obama’s online presidential campaign was a vivid example of how to take advantage of the various benefits of blogging and social networking as a way of communicating with followers in promoting political agenda.’ Other governments also started utilizing the social networking and blogging in sending their messages to the public. Learmoth (2008) cites that ‘Australia is slowly testing the system, with its Labor and Liberal parties setting-up their own Facebook groups.’ Ynet (2006) adds ‘that the government of Israel also created their own video and political blog to build a sophisticated public relations system in showing ‘the real Israel” away from the conflict.’
Types of Blogs
Ramtin (2010) categorizes the types of blogs as personal blogs, blogs by genre, corporate blogs, blogs by device and blogs by media type. However, Cesario (2011) has a different categorization and he classifies blogs as personal/classic, the watchblog, satire and snark and interviewing. Nevertheless, both authors agree that the most common blog is the personal blog. Cesario (2011) defines ‘personal/classic blogs as personal and simple accounts of experiences and thoughts of the user’s life, such as physical or mental journeys, road trips and other experiences that could appeal to his followers.’ Blogs relating to political issues is the most common personal blogs and many known political figures use this in disseminating their political agenda to their huge followers. However, it is considered as watchblog when it deals with corruption and abuse such as what transpired in the recent elections in Iran. Bloggers in Iran exposed police brutality stories and misconducts in the government and some corporations resulting to build trust among its followers.
Cesario (2011) adds ‘that the blog is considered satire and snark when the blogger uses laughter in arguing with his opponent.’ This is done through posting of some sarcastic comments or uploading absurd videos of politicians, causing viewers to laugh and send a message by insinuation rather than obvious beating.’ And the last type of blogging according to Cesario’s (2011) categorization is blogs which perform interviews. The author says that an interview with an authority builds credibility, authenticity and trust.
In addition, another type of blog that is very popular is the microblogging. Kayne (2011) defines microblogging as a networking service wherein mobile cell phone users and other devices connected with the internet are allowed to receive information of the activities within a group through the updates sent to him usually consisting of a maximum of 140 characters. Twitter is an example of a microblogging service. Ramtin (2010) explains ‘that microblogging is public and all the things that the bloggers write can be automatically seen/read throughout the world.’ A user just needs to visit a microblogger page and he already gets access to all the entries available on the blogger page irrespective if they were friends or not, if they have logged in or not or signed up or not. Kayne (2011) confirms that microblogging is used by some people in marketing their products, company, blog, services, website, and books.’ There are also some who use microblogging in communicating with people who share the same links and/or ideas. Those who have internet access can “follow” anybody they want and anyone can also “follow” them. Kayne (2011) explains that the term “follow” indicates that the person is interested in knowing what the blogger would like to say. Today, twitter is used to communicate about almost anything, sending updates on political opinions, birthday aspirations, even to the extent of sending status updates concerning unusual events such as marriage proposals, latest breaking news and political situations such as what transpired in the Iranian 2009 presidential election. Youngsters use microblogging to follow their friends, check-out party events or simply remain connected for the joy of it while doing shopping and researches on the side. Kayne (2011) adds ‘that students now use microblogs to keep informed of the status of group assignments or achieve organizational efficiency.’ The 2009 Iranian presidential election proved to be a turning point of the social media revolution, specifically, microblogging in Twitter. Grossman (2009) reports ‘that due to the censorship made in the 2009 election in the local media, the only internet tool that delivered the voice of people was through Twitter because mobile services were cut off to stop sending messages to other Iranian citizen, the media and the world.’ The author adds ‘that the censorship even went as far as disrupting satellite connections and blocking of some websites.’ But because of ‘Facebook and Twitter sites that the flow of communications among the citizens of Iran was not disrupted,’ (Goldman 2009). Microblogging in the social networking sites is not only free and quick but it is easily spread and transferred to other users because of the practice of retweeting.
How social media changed people’s daily lives
Gordhamer (2009) states ‘that social networking sites have changed the way people interact around the world five to ten years ago. Before, people would wake up and open the web for news on an online newspaper, but now they first check their emails and look at the stories of the people they follow via Twitter or Facebook.’ The social media have become their reliable source of information since they all chose the groups or individuals that they follow on the social media communication tools.
In addition, Miller (2009) reveals that the social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter have eased the way small entrepreneurs launch and start their businesses. ‘It gives start-ups who have plenty of time but lacks advertising money, the opportunity to interact with others in promoting their business.’ Miller (2009) adds that Twitter became the entrepreneurs’ primary means of marketing.’ Blogging, tweeting, to uploading of videos on Youtube have proved to be valuable means of doing business online, which is a lot easier than maintaining a web page.
Gordhamer (2009) adds ‘that social networking enables people to meet groups or individuals sharing the same interests.’ The sites help by initially introducing them to each other then they develop the relationship through constant personal meetings and phone conversations. Aside from that, these social networking sites also help reconnect long, lost relatives and friends and rekindle their relationships. In addition, blogging and the social media give the users the opportunity to be more apparent with their feelings and thoughts, revealing their true qualities of humanness.
And while an ordinary individual gets more and more followers and fans, he becomes an influence to many affecting their views and opinions. Unlike in the past where only well-known celebrities have control of our attention, the social media has now made an average person influential to his millions of followers.