Becoming an international correspondent for any journalist is a unique way to report about global events on the ground, rather than relying on second or third-hand sources. Choi Yoon-jung, who is now entrenched in global news, is an alumna of the Division of English Language and Literature at Ewha. She currently works as the London correspondent for the South Korean wire service Yonhap News.
In her formative years, Choi decided to become a reporter after she felt watching the news was not enough. She wanted to see the scenes in person and write about them herself. After doing the regular rounds on the Korean journalism scene, she grasped an opportunity to become an international correspondent.
Choi cites her understanding of the western world through her English major at Ewha, where she recalled that it helped her understand how their societies work and the subtle sentiments present, which are a world away from South Korea.
She explains that the main difference between a reporter and an international correspondent is that the latter covers news of diverse fields occurring in a country.
“When reporting in the United Kingdom, I sometimes cover heavy news related to tax increase, COVID-19 situations, diplomacy, and terrorism,” Choi said. “Another day, I suddenly write about cute animals.”
Therefore, she is required to study issues that impact our everyday lives from economics to politics. Moreover, correspondents must be alert to the international news just like other reporters of the international section because they have to write breaking news when it is their turn to monitor foreign news wire articles such as Reuters and Associated Press.
Choi also looked back at her experience of working overseas. While she enjoys being given a shift after working for 20 years in Korea, language and culture-related problems were tough. Taking care of her family from a foreign country was not easy as well.
However, Choi explains that there still is value in working as a correspondent. The value is in analyzing international incidents from Korea’s perspective. She asserted that today, people are living in a world where one can look up data on the internet and have online meetings, but it is different from seeing it in person at the very spot where events occur.
“For example, being present at the meeting with South Korea, United States, Japan’s head diplomats as well as Foreign and Development Ministers of the Group of Seven (G7), is different from watching the event on news,” Choi said.
For students interested in becoming a correspondent, Choi advised them to become good reporters first and study hard to increase their proficiency in foreign languages.
While there may be various opinions on what a good reporter refers to, Choi wishes to become a reporter who conveys accurate and easy information that is needed for the public and society.
“A reporter’s work begins with a question,” she said. “To ask questions, you need to be interested in the world and have your own perspective. You should also critically interpret the interviewee’s answers before publishing and be aware that you are working for the public’s right to know.”
She further explained that the basics of preparing to become a reporter start from reading newspapers. According to Choi, one can identify the value of each article by looking at the layout of the newspaper. By reading various newspapers, students may practice comparing articles under the same incident written by diverse press. She also mentioned that copying well-written articles can be helpful.
“When practicing writing articles based on a press release, I recommend you practice with the latest data and set a specific length the article should be before writing,” Choi said. “Watching broadcasts, focusing on questions that reporters ask, and examining what they choose to write as breaking news will help you practice.”