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English DebateCulture Behind it
Written by 임다경 Im Dakyoung | Published. 2018.09.15 22:29 | Count : 1687
On 7th August 2018, middle school students from all over Korea came together with a similar interest -- English debate. Held at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), over 100 teams participated in the 9th Junior Youth English Debating Championship which is held jointly by YTN and HUFS. There were two different leagues. The first league was for students in the English-as-foreign-language (EFL) category and the other for the general. General League was bigger in size as well as more competitive.

[English Debating Championship held at HUFS (Hankuk University of Foreign Studies),
photo courtesy of student reporter Im Dakyoung]

[Debate session between team Kraken and team Ninja 2004, photo courtesy of event photographer]

[Student reporter Im Dakyoung, together with Cho Hyesoo and Choi Yeonhee,
participating in the event as team Kraken, Photo courtesy of student reporter Im Dakyoung]

The competition follows the form of Asian Parliamentary Debate. Two teams, for and against, present their stance and rebut each other about a certain motion. The motions were about various topics, ranging from politics, education, and society to environment.
There were many things that made this experience meaningful. One of them is learning skills to be fit as a global leader. Another is that we get to meet people with similar interests.

“Since it is a big competition, I was able to meet many new teams and experience new things. I believe that itself is very meaningful,” mentioned Lee Junhee from Team Trinity in her interview with the press.

On another note, our class had a discussion and debate session. We got into teams and discussed as for and against about issues such as conscientious opting out from the military service. Our team debated about sex offender public profiling. Through much research and script writing, we became well aware of the subject.

[Script used, photo courtesy of student reporter]

[Discussion and debate session at school, photo courtesy of student reporter]

Coming close to both English and Korean debates, I was able to find the similarities and differences between them. Firstly, it is all about teamwork and that we have to be well aware of the subject. However, a major difference was in the way of discussing.

During English debates, we are supposed to demolish the opponent’s thoughts. We are allowed to criticize the opponent’s line of logic. It is a norm to interrupt each other’s speech with questioning, which is known as ‘point of information’ or ‘POIs'.

[During the English Debate Championship preparation time, Photo courtesy of event photographer]

On the other hand, Korean discussions are more reserved. Respect for the opponent is the most important matter. Even during rebuttals, if you feel uncomfortable about it, you are free to stop the opponent from rebutting to your speech. Participants are normally too careful to disagree with each other.

Although English debate can be more exciting because we keep breaking each other’s logic down and rebuilding it, Korean debate has its own benefit that it is slower paced and everyone’s opinion is well respected. It further brought me to think about the cultural differences behind it.

Asian Parliamentary debate, which is similar to American Parliamentary debate, originates from America. America is well-known for embracing many differences and being open to expressing thoughts freely. However, Korea has been more reserved since long time ago, as seen from beliefs such as girls should sit with their legs closed. Respecting each other, especially elder is of utmost importance, as it can be seen from using polite words for elders. 

It is interesting how culture can shape so many things, even when globalization is happening. I found that the main spirit of both cultures could be seen in two different debates and was able to embrace and appreciate the two better.

임다경 Im Dakyoung
Seoul Daewang Middle School

임다경 Im Dakyoung  student_reporter@dherald.com

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