The journey of Listen Smarter Life (LSL)
How Listen Smarter Life (LSL) began
LSL (pronounced Deud-ttog-la in Korean) started off as a side project led by Kim Hyo-eun from JoongAng Ilbo. Since then, the program has officially become one of the company’s news channels, featuring a YouTube channel and a podcast channel. The podcast focuses on topics such as politics, the economy, and social issues, while the YouTube channel deals with topics related to finance, career, and culture. They have over 119 thousand subscribers on YouTube and 20 thousand subscribers on Poddbang, a Korean podcast channel, as of Aug. 19. One of their most popular series on YouTube includes the “Woney”(Woman+Money) section, which delivers the fundamentals of finance for women who are just starting their career.
Producer Jung In-hye:
I’ve read an article about how women in their 20s face difficulty with their lack of knowledge about the economy. Come to think of it, there is really no one to ask for financial advice. Talking to your friends can be an option, but it can lead to inaccurate information.
Millennials have a strong craving for gaining knowledge and information than any other generation. It is probably because they started their career in an unprecedented era of low interest rates, which causes anxiety about the future. Naturally, this all leads to them having a greater desire to educate themselves about finance and economics to better prepare for the future.
This is why we decided to start a project in which we explain economics terminology for women in their twenties on YouTube. We are going for the ‘professional older sister teaching her younger sisters’ kind of image.
Why is it important to learn about money?
I started working as a JTBC (broadcasting company under JoongAng Group) reporter and went through various departments. While working as a reporter, I realized that most of the conflicts around the world are based on the problem of making ends meet. I majored in economics in college, but unlike studying theories in class, during my time as a reporter, I learned that it is crucial to think of the limited resources that we are given and how to make the most of them in our daily lives.
Why millennials and Gen Z are looking to investments over savings
The reporters of LSL shared that the decision to produce the contents of Woney lay in the hot reactions from millennials whenever money became the subject in their podcast. As soon as economics reporter Lee Hyun joined the team, ideas became concrete plans.
Interest rates are so low these days that it seems that many college students and people who have just started their careers are looking into investments. Whatever field it is, learning to judge on your own is more important than the information you hear from somewhere, so we try to provide information that can help you exercise better judgment.
YOLO trend and saving money
One video from LSL deals with the importance of saving money and shares the experience of the reporters on the subject. Despite trends such as YOLO (You Only Live Once) and acquiring small joys everyday through moderate consumption, many of the 100 thousand visitors expressed agreement, with over 3000 likes.
We assume many people empathize with our hope that more women achieve financial success.
Saving is always difficult. It is so much more convenient and fun to spend money. I never moved on from enjoying spending money to preferring saving. Rather, I constantly restrained myself because I knew refraining from spending much money would be difficult after knowing how convenient it is. However, I loosen up at times when I reach set goals. Nonetheless, after saving 100 million won, I found myself feeling more confident and capable of saving money. I felt the sense of stability in the perspective that I could support myself financially for the next few years regardless of negative circumstances.
What attracts young investors to watch Woney: YouTube and their target audience
Compared to podcasts, YouTube is much more scalable. Having written articles up to last year, I was able to feel that millennials and Generation Z feel more at ease with YouTube. Additionally, some subscribers took screenshots of parts of our videos that impressed them or that they considered practical information worth looking over and shared them on social media. This was interesting because it was something I had never experienced working as a broadcast reporter.
What Woney hopes to tell millennials about their first steps toward investing
Working as an economics reporter, I became relatively well-informed on finance. Naturally I began to notice how polarized people were on how much they knew about finance. Depending on their family’s circumstances, many people can be seen lamenting their situation as a “soil spoon*.” Rather than the size of their inherent assets, the sense of economics that they pick up naturally from their parents and other adults around them makes a much bigger difference in the long run. In spite of this, we decided to provide basic finance knowledge from the perspective of a sunbae who began working ten years earlier. However, I wanted to remind young investors that it is fine to take time figuring out how you want to deal with money and set how much importance money has for you rather than hastily seeking where to invest.
Consume - The Money (Sobee - the Money)
Jo Hyun-yong is a reporter who directs the “Consume - The Money (Sobee - the Money)” section on 14F, a YouTube channel created by MBC D Creative Center, intended to adapt to millennials’ ways of consuming news media. Jo has been working at MBC since 2007 and previously worked in the Social Affairs, Political, and Economic Department. “Consume - The Money” talks about the rise and fall of luxury brands such as Hermès, Gucci, and Starbucks and why people consume them. The video in which he explains the rise of Gucci, a brand loved by millennials, has so far garnered over 2.6 million views alone. He currently goes by the nickname “Don-ko” a compound word of Don —meaning money in Korean and Ko — nose, as he’s known among his colleagues for showing talent at finding anything that can be linked to money.
I’ve been covering the economics section for the longest time. I volunteered to create the “Consume - the Money” section in 14F because I wanted to create video content online. Money is something that’s closer to us than many of us realize, and I wanted more people to know that. That’s why I started this project.
Q: You are producing one video per week. What is the process like? How many people are involved in this project? Have there been any funny episodes during the production that you would like to share?
The story I tell is based on domestic and international news and books I have read. I do additional research as well and write the script on my own. There is one producer who helps me edit the video as well as two staff members that help filming. As I’m reading a lot of English articles recently, I realize I should invest more time learning the language. We don’t have any interesting interludes yet. However, we both work until late at night every day because there are only two of us in the production team.
Q: It’s more efficient to read than to watch a full video in which someone is explaining something to you. Why do you think nonetheless that streaming platforms like YouTube are more popular than ever?
I grew up in a generation in which people find it easier to read than to watch, but things are changing and more people are accessing information from viewing rather than reading. Personally, I watch YouTube videos when I’m bored, not with a purpose to gain information. Being bored naturally brings me to YouTube and there, I almost accidentally learn something new. There are more people who are bored than those who want to read.
Q: What do you think are the underlying reasons behind the current trend of videos explaining economics in easy terms? Who are your target audiences?
In terms of production costs, educational programs cost less than regular entertainment shows because fewer professionals and celebrities are needed. Our target audience is from late teens to mid-30s, and most of our viewers fall into that category.
Q: Not everyone is in favor of news programs being a mix of entertainment and professionals. Some criticize the lack of formality of these programs. Humor is sometimes forcibly added when talking about serious matters due to the nature of having to entertain the audience. What do you think about these drawbacks?
In the end, viewers have the ultimate power to choose whether a channel will last or not. I think any show that fails to capture both fun and seriousness will be left behind. Most importantly, I’m a reporter - I can’t predict what is going to happen in the future for sure. I just hope I can deliver facts as accurately as possible.
*soil spoon: A Korean internet community metaphor referring to those whose parents have few to no assets.