Weathered Wars: Iran and Iraq

This is another collaborative piece with the Eunoia Strategic Affairs Society (E-SAS) Interest Group! This time, we look at a historical conflict – the Iran-Iraq War.

Written by: Bae Soo Youn (19-I5, ESAS)

Edited by: Sit Jie Ren (19-I4, EJC Press and ESAS) and Wong Sean Yew (19-U4, EJC Press and ESAS)

Designed by: Lee En Tong (19-U2)

Image Credit:


In 1980, Saddam Hussein launched an attack on the newly constituted Islamic Republic of Iran. What was initially expected to be a quick and easy war for the Iraqis soon devolved into an 8-year long protracted conflict (Black, 2010), triggering rising religious sectarianism in the Middle East.

Hussein, in his miscalculations, predicted that Iran would be heavily disorganised following its 1979 revolution which would grant the Iraqis a significant military advantage, and greatly hamper Iranian retaliation. The commencement of the war saw the Iraqis seizing the initiative, and obtained significant military gains in Iran (, 2009). Yet, Iranian revolutionary fervour enabled it to mobilise its vast population and began to repel the invasion, and gain the initiative, mounting operations to take Iraqi cities and territory (Hardy, 2005). However, the severely weakened Iranian National Guard, following leadership purges and equipment maintenance issues, hampered efforts to mount effective operations (, 2009).

With either side unable to gain any initiative, the war situation deteriorated into a stalemate as the Iraqis were not in a position to end the war, while the Iranians refused to do so (, 2009). This stalemate would ensue for close to a decade, with trench warfare inflicting huge losses of life (Doucet, 2015). Chemical weapons and ballistic missiles were utilised, and by the end of the war, the casualty count was estimated at 1 million (Black, 2010).

Points of Contention

Religious, Sectarian Factors (Beliefs and Values)

Due to Iraq’s demographics, with around 60% of its population being Shi’i Muslims, the dominant Sunni Muslims practices a secular ideology known as Arab Nationalism, which emphasises the importance of Arab solidarity and collectivism. This diametrically opposed the ideology practised by Iran, that of Islamic Fundamentalism, which promotes obedience to ancient Islamic beliefs, while condemning Western or modern views. By their nature, these two ideologies are mutually exclusive in their implementation, hence this war can be seen as a reflection of the rift between these two values (Swearingen, 1988).

Foreign Intervention in the War (Power and influence)

Many foreign powers hold vested interests in the region and exert their power and influence in accordance with this. The Arab states aim to ensure that neither state achieve total victory and become too powerful. As Iran went on the offensive, the international community intervened in the war. The West funded and supported Iraq with weapons and raw materials for gas and chemical weapons (Black, 2010), while Saudi Arabia, fearing increasing Shi’i influence in the region, subsidized the Iraqi war effort. This foreign intervention effectively rendered Iraq as a proxy of Saudi Arabia, and prolonged the war for another 7 years. 

Discussion: ‘Countries experiencing conflict should be left to sort out their own problems.’ How far do you agree? (2016 A Level Question)


  1. Hardy, R. (2005, September 22). The Iran-Iraq War: 25 years on. British Broadcasting Corporation, Retrieved from
  2. Black, I. (2010, September 23). Iran-Iraq remember war that cost more than a million lives. The Guardian, Retrieved from
  3. Doucet, L. (2015, October 6). Legacy of Iran-Iraq war lives on. British Broadcasting
    Corporation, Retrieved from
  5. (2009, November 9). Iran-Iraq War. Retrieved from
  6. Swearingen, W. (1988). Geopolitical Origins of the Iran-Iraq War. Geographical Review, 78(4), 405-416. doi:10.2307/215091
  7. Faily, L. (2018, August 21). Reflecting on the Iran-Iraq War, Thirty Years Later. Atlantic Council, Retrieved from


Opinion: My Society is Not Your Wallpaper

From its delicious cuisine to attractive idol groups that you ‘stan’, how much do you know about South Korea? Prepare to have your misconceptions debunked after reading this exclusive article!

Written and Designed By: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)

Introduction: Do you know kimchi? Do you know Psy?

In this day and age, it would be a lie if someone said they have never tried anything from South Korea, starting with their cuisines to listening to Korean pop artists and watching their Dramas. Okay, maybe not everyone, but with the recent surge in popularity in the renowned South Korean boy group, BTS, anyone should be able to tell you that the K-Wave is truly reaching its peak in this century. It should come as no surprise that several people have taken a strong liking towards this country, with the more extreme people being classified under the term “Koreaboo”, a person who tries to adopt an entirely new identity by embodying a culture that is not theirs.

Being a South Korean citizen myself who has been living in Singapore for the past 11 years, it has always been a pressing issue that has made me wonder why this phenomenon happens. Why would someone want to be of a different nationality? Are there any perks of being a foreigner in this land? Turns out, this was not the case. I was not given any advantages, nor any special treatment. Instead, I was mostly faced with jealous looks from schoolmates and people remembering my nationality before my name. Thus, it has come to my attention that as a foreigner studying in Singapore, it would be an insightful discussion for people to hear my side of the story, and my thoughts towards the trend of South Korea becoming an icon of idolization among many today.

How much of South Korea do you know?

How much of South Korea are we all exposed to exactly? For many people, it is through digital screens, photos, videos, posters, music, food, and other things which can all be manipulated and carefully filtered out so that the viewers are given access to certain content which the producers wish to show them. This creates a warped idea of the Korean society for international viewers. They are forced to wear rose-tinted glasses as they are made to believe that the things they see on their screens are actually mundane lifestyles that take place in the country.

Most people first learn about the country through the increasing popularity of K-Wave which is taking over the world by storm. This may not be bad for all, for such content is what the people want and expect from the media nowadays. Most of these viewers wish to see the kind of lifestyles these celebrities enjoy, especially those who earn millions of dollars at a young age and the actors taking on the role of an average girl who will most certainly end up winning the heart of a multi-millionaire’s son and become a real-life Cinderella. Such content helps distract many from their stress and develops a sense of hope that they may also have such life-changing encounters. For example, they dream of the day when they may bump into a guy in the corridors and drop all of their books in the process, and as they finally muster up the courage to look up,


The majority of such encounters are scripted. There are so many talented trainees out there who get lost in a sea of other equally talented teenagers because they were just not good enough, or their concepts were not unique enough. Not every single one of the “oppas” out there looks like the ones whom you have saved as your wallpaper. In fact, the reason why they become celebrities in the first place is because of their attractive, above-average outer appearance which will capture the attention of people which helps promote themselves as a person.

For those who have personally travelled to the country before, to be very honest, travelling to the country does not give you a better understanding than those who experience South Korea through the consumption of Korean media. Many tourists will make their way to the busiest, most developed part of the country and are unaware of the more traditional, slow-paced parts of our society. Sure, they know Seoul, but are they aware of the different parts of Seoul where the roads are still quite uneven and the small population of people selling little pockets of dried anchovies and chilli flakes in cheap makeshift tents on the side of the street?

What goes down behind the screens

So we have discussed one side of the story. What about the teenagers who are currently living in South Korean society? Just like the other parts of the world, they are, too, exposed to such carefully filtered out content from the Korean media and most of them are avid fans of K-pop and Drama as well. To be frank, there is not much difference between international and local fans. However, one thing that sets them apart would be that the local fans are aware that these celebrities who are appearing on their screens on a daily basis share their nationality and were born in the same environment as they were. What impact does this have on the Korean youths? How are they influenced by this culture of their own country’s media choosing to show the lives of only the chosen few in their society?

In South Korea, it is quite common to see students with dyed hair (usually in various shades of brown), stained lips, and a pale face with no traces of blemishes. Most schools do not object to this and are quite liberal in allowing their students to put on makeup at a very young age. This has become the norm in our society, where there is a certain beauty standard that most strive to achieve since young.

(Disclaimer: please refer to your Code of Conduct. The author takes no responsibility for those who fail to clear the coming Attire Grooming Check)

It should be known that this is common between majority of the boys and girls, with both of them trying to follow certain beauty and fashion trends just so that they can fit in and be recognised as an ‘In-Ssa’, a short form for the word ‘insider’ ( a person who is considered to be popular, and is well-liked by a lot of people with many friends).

As a student myself, I have no objections to students wearing makeup to school to a large extent as there is some merit to putting on makeup. For some people, they feel more confident and less self-conscious by putting on makeup. For others, they use makeup to express their inner aesthetic and let their colours shine through as a form of self-expression. However, I do think this is pressuring young teenagers and young adults and, in a way, manipulating them into thinking makeup should be worn from a very young age. Those who do not choose to put on makeup are considered to be unconcerned with their appearance, hence being labelled as lazy and low-maintenance.

Observations over the last few years lead me to the conclusion that the number of students dabbling in using makeup is rising annually, and several makeup brands are aware of this. Hence, they resorted to pushing out products such as lip tints bottled in small, adorable containers and lipsticks disguised as crayons. Such products are meant to mostly appeal towards young teenagers and students, as the older consumers will not be as convinced to buy such products just because of its packaging. Some major brands which are the main contributors of such products are Tony Moly and Etude house, with Tony Moly making an entire collection of makeup products which were designed to look like normal stationery. (Author’s note: With a line of makeup named “My School-Look”, can their intentions be any clearer?)

Final Conclusion

At the end of the day, I would like to restate how my intention of writing this article was not to bash my own society, but instead to shine light on the problems which a lot of people do not seem to be aware of.

 Some questions for those reading this article: Did your perspectives on South Korea change after this? Will you still be able to like the country as much as you did before?

*Author’s Note: “Sunbae” is a term used to refer to seniors in Korean.

Image credits: pinterest

This I Believe – Opinions

We all have beliefs and values that we have developed throughout our lives and hold dear to our hearts. So what are some things that Eunoians believe in? Submit your own responses here to be featured on The Origin*!

Some parts have been edited for brevity and clarity.


Liu Jing Wei 18-U3

First off, I have never been a religious person. An atheist though? Not quite. More like a freethinker, and not just towards religion. My belief is that, unless you can truly step into someone’s shoes and experience what they have experienced, your opinion of people should stay as exactly that, just an opinion. I believe that not doing so will just lead to unnecessary and unpleasant misunderstandings with others.

Throughout my life, I have always been keen on observing others and less so interacting with them. Regardless, a few close friends were made with little to no enemies, possibly due to my lack of strong opinions towards possibly controversial topics (politics, music, even of other people).

Some may think, or even know that this is a sign of weakness or a lack of “backbone” so to speak. But I, as a non-outstanding individual, believe that keeping an open mind towards everything and anyone is the first step towards truly understanding them. A few past friends of mine that I knew quite well were relatively good people. Worked hard. Played hard. Prayed hard. But some of them, much to my bewilderment, disliked or even loathed one another. One particular friend of mine was so bottled up with hatred towards certain other acquaintances of mine that I could listen up to 30 minute long rants over the phone on a daily basis. Whenever I would inquire on what was so particularly infuriating with these “selfish-idiots”, I would always get “that guy is a teacher’s pet” or “that guy is just damn annoying” and once even “that guy is a closet-mugger”. To have to watch two good people with decent morals outright loathe each other due to the way that they each live their lives is befuddling, even frustrating at the most serious of times.

“Have you ever asked yourself that maybe you give people too much credit?” you may be asking. Yes, I have thought about it now and then. Maybe trying too hard to earn your teacher’s approval can seem annoying to others. Maybe blurting out inappropriate phrases in the middle of a lesson can seem douchey to people who are trying their best to learn. Maybe simply minding your own business and trying your best to get good grades can aggravate certain people as well. I get it, people can get annoyed over these things. But to have a permanent bad impression of people because of these things? I don’t quite see the point. There will always be more to people than they choose to show, regardless of how much an open book they may seem.

But hey, that’s just my opinion, and like i said, what is an opinion, should stay an opinion, no matter how frustrating or confusing it gets.


Belief: Unless you can truly step into someone’s shoes and experience what they have experienced, your opinion of people should stay as exactly that, just an opinion.

Values: Keeping an open mind towards everything and anyone is the first step towards truly understanding them for what/who they are.

A Levels – Things I wish I knew before JC2 began

Hello. It’s Grace.

With A levels behind my back, I’m glad to be back on The Origin*.

Cutting straight to the main focus of the article, A levels was no doubt, tough. Without seniors to guide us, I can confidently say the batch of 2018 was left to walk in uncharted waters. We made big mistakes, fell into deep traps, felt hopeless about our future prospects at some point in time. But the one things in common is, we learned and pulled ourselves back up. For the rest of our lives, we will proudly display our scars as a badges of honour.

I feel it is only right if we seniors, survivors of the bloody battle, share insights we have gained from the process.

1. STOP. I say again. Stop comparing yourself to others

The only person you should be competing with is yourself. Comparing yourself to someone means you are defining your self-worth by the standards of another person. In the process, you are killing your self-esteem by indirectly implying that you will only be happy with yourself when you outdo someone. Throughout the year, people progress at different speeds owing to different commitments. Do not get frazzled when you hear about someone completing all the TYS and rush to do the same. Instead, acknowledge that you have been lazy/busy, and note down in your calendar which days you are going to complete it. This prevents you from wasting time thinking about the smart alec and you know that eventually, it will be done.

2. Positive self-talk

A common phrase mentioned throughout the year was “Do not be Complacent”. Do not, however, confuse the notion of preventing oneself from becoming complacent with lowering one’s self esteem. Not becoming complacent means adopting a growth mindset and acknowledging that there will always be something new to learn about a topic. Lowering one’s self-esteem refers to innately scolding oneself for getting only 70 rank points because you did not get 80. It is vital to treat yourself with utmost compassion throughout the year. This means being best friends with yourself. Would you scold your best friend for getting 70 rank points? Of course not. Treat yourself as if you would treat your very best friend. Validate your achievements and recognise it is okay to feel good about yourself. Switch off your inner tiger parent who constantly tells you that you could have scored higher, could have done this, could have done that.

3. Stop trying to prove yourself to others

Let’s face it. 50% of the time, we’re trying to uphold a facade. We all want to appear as the perfect student who scores 70+ rank points every examination and revises his/her work every day. The truth is, nobody can do this perfectly. All of us are bound to slip-up and fall behind due to unforeseen circumstances like illnesses. The natural instinct is to pretend like nothing happened so one could appear as if they have their act together. Guess what, you’re only lying to yourself. You are indirectly forcing yourself to expand energy to uplift this facade. Admittedly, it’s tiring. One should realise that everybody has bad and good days. On bad days, do not suppress your emotions in bid to ward off queries from people. Feel your emotions. Recognise that who you are as a person is not defined by your emotions but your value system. Emotions are fleeting. Acknowledge them and do not be afraid of losing friends just because you are not your usual bubbly self. True friends will love you no matter what emotion you are feeling. True friends know that anger does not equate to you despising them.

4. Learn to love what your learning

A common phrase used to describe A levels was “A Battle”. This, I found, caused many to focus on the end result rather than the process, resulting in unnecessary stress. Suddenly, every study session would become a mental battle between willpower and giving in. Doing homework became a source of dread. Focusing on the end goal leads to short term rote learning where one mindlessly memorises for the sake of an exam. In contrast, focusing on how one can gain from the process results in one taking time to make sense of the information. When learning, ask yourself why does this matter to me? What in this subject am I passionate about? How can I apply this knowledge to my daily life? Forming this somewhat intimate relationship with your subjects makes sustained long term learning possible.

5. Learn what works for yourself

Quit googling “Study tips to get top grades”. A thousand and one methods will appear which will only confuse you more. Instead, use the March Common Tests and Mid Years to experiment which study method works for you. Personally, I realised a little too late (during prelims) that I studied most effectively in noisy places like food courts, and in 3 hour blocks with long 1 hour breaks in between. A rather eccentric study method I acknowledge, but it works for me. The takeaway is, everybody is different. Some people study well in 45 minute blocks with short breaks while others can concentrate for hours with long breaks. Some people might be more productive in quiet libraries while others might find background noise more ideal for studying.

6. Do not forget to play hard too

Studying inevitably, will take up a large chunk of JC2 life. But, setting aside time for play is equally important. Planning some time for fun acts as motivation and refreshes the mind for the next study session. After all, what human can study with maximum concentration for 18 hours a day? That’s insane.

I surmise you were expecting a list of practical tips. Instead you’ve just read a list of mental/psychological tips.

A levels in my opinion, is more of a mental game rather than a matter of who works the hardest. By the time you have reached the month before A levels, everybody would have revised all the content. However, it is those who have the mental capacity to continue discovering new insights, apply what they have learnt, validate themselves from within etc. who will suffer less anxiety and stress overall.

All the above being said, I have not received my A level results yet so take the above with a pinch of salt. They are after all, opinions.

Grace Marie Yeh

The Dim Sum Hunt

The Dim Sum Hunt

by Shania Sukamto


点心 (dim sum), a small intricate delicacy in a humble bamboo basket that will “点” (touch) your “心” (heart). Dim sum has always been a kind of comfort food for many, myself included. The wide variety of bite-sized delicacies draws many to the restaurant doors in the afternoon, eager to enjoy some delectable dim sum with tea.


For me, eating together is quite the family affair, especially when it comes to Dim Sum. There’s something about the cacophony of loud chattering and the audacious clattering of cutlery that entices me. Besides the food, it’s also about the tradition of going to “yum cha” (drink tea and socialize) with friends & family in a garishly ornate banquet hall. Most of us today are guilty of rushing through meals, preferring to eat from a takeaway box instead of taking the time to dine out with our loved ones. Yet through stacks of sweet and savory, Dim Sum promotes communal feasting. It proves that we still can appreciate each other’s company and it instills a sense of tradition through generations.


This weekend I tried the Dim Sum at Swatow Seafood for the first time, famous for its traditional Teochew cuisine.


Instead of an order sheet, Swatow sticks to traditional pushcarts. As soon as we sat down, an array of dim sum was presented to us. The staff members were incredibly friendly and attentive.

To start off, we ordered 糯米饭 savory sticky rice. They did not stinge on the dried shrimp and chinese sausage that gave the rice it’s enticing fragrance.

dim sum 2

Next we had the 豆腐卷 tofu skin roll which was honestly quite disappointing. It was rather dry on the inside and too densely packed with meat, lacking the texture I expected.

dim sum 3

Siew mai was mediocre, slightly mushy even.

dim sum 4.PNG

I was most impressed with a hybrid between the shanghainese 豆沙锅饼 red bean pancake and a goreng pisang. The smooth red bean paste was complemented by swirls of banana and together they were encased in a crispy crepe. This spin on the traditional Dim Sum was a highlight.


Another dish I thoroughly enjoyed was the 纸包鸡 chicken wrapped in paper and fried all together. The wings & drumlets were incredibly tender and marinated evenly. (Picture not available as was ferociously devoured)
Moving on to deserts, the 蛋挞 egg tarts are definitely something you must order! I appreciate the structural integrity of the buttery shell instead of the flaky starchy type of some egg tarts. It instantaneously melts in your mouth and it’s egg pudding is to. die. for. This is exactly like the ones at Tim Ho Wan but at a bargain!

dim sum 5

All in all, Swatow was satisfying and I’ll name it as an affordable Dim Sum restaurant but not my go-to. While it was a pity that they did not nail the fundamentals, I would recommend coming here for the Old School vibes and the highlighted dishes.

dim sum 6.PNG