My 8th grade students are in the midst of a unit on government corruption, a citizenship/social awareness standard supported by the excellent 1 World Manga comic produced by the World Bank. Our "current events" component to this unit (meant to teach both political awareness and nonfiction reading skills) has included articles like this L.A. Times overview of teacher bribery, or chonji, in the Korean public schools. (Sadly, nobody has ever tried to bribe me with a candy box full of hundreds of dollars. I have, however, received candy boxes full of candy).
We also discussed the situation involving Korea's former president Roh Moo-Hyun, whose wife, niece's husband, and brother have all been found to be involved in various money-for-favors scandals, but at the time of our discussion, the case against Roh was still pending.
It appears that today, President Roh killed himself by jumping off a cliff near his home. There is no early proof of suicide, but a note left at his house clearly suggests that he had planned to jump.
I do not mean to make light of Roh's death in any way. However, I am starting to feel a bit creeped out about my 8th grade curriculum. Last year, when I had spent weeks teaching plate tectonics and weather patterns, Burma and China were hit with a devastating hurricane and earthquake, respectively. This year, corruption is followed by President Roh. I better keep my eyes open in case that teacher bribery article comes home to roost...