The Korean Herald Chief Editor Talks Of Korean mediaThe Korean media has gone through many changes since the birth of the republic. Once subject to heavy censorship, especially in the early 1970s under the Park Chung-hee government, the media is now largely free, and it has also diversified to cover more issues in more ways than ever before.
As a veteran journalist, one who has been engaged in the press for more than 30 years, Lee Kyong-hee has witnessed these defining changes. Lee, the current editor in chief for The Korea Herald, looks these years in retrospect by saying, "It is quite impressive to see how the media is now able to freely voice their opinions and unveil the truth."
Lee adds, however, that the Korea media still lacks enough investigative reporting. Whenever there are critical issues to deal with, she says, the media must tenaciously stick to the issue and give more detailed reports. Lee also pointed out that the Korean media should focus on fixing problems that our society is facing rather than pointing them out.
Lee also believes that the foundation of English newspapers was an important step in the Korean media"s growth. "Publishing English newspapers meant expanding the scope of reporting. In the early stage of their development, these papers were made and distributed especially for foreign diplomats and soldiers, and other foreigners residing in Korea, to help them get to know about the country better," explains Lee. She points out that, even now, the English papers cover various reports from all over the world, providing the readers deeper insight into issues that might otherwise be neglected in Korea. Lee says all newspapers must embrace worldwide opinions and viewpoints on various issues through exchanging news with newspapers from abroad.
Another momentous change in the Korean media that Lee mentions is the increase in women reporters. As the first woman editor-in-chief of the Korea Herald (She was appointed in 1988.), Lee stresses that there is still a need for more participation of women reporters in the media.
"During my cub reporter years back in the 1970s, only 4 percent of reporters were women. Moreover, they were strictly abandoned from working on social and political stories. Most of them were assigned to the culture section, the area people thought most suitable for women," says Lee. However, she says she is now encouraged to see scores of women reporters recruited and assigned to different sections of the paper, which she sees as a sign that their abilities are now being recognized at last. She says among nine cub reporters recruited this year for The Korea Herald, seven of them are women, which marks the largest proportion of women reporters in the company.
When asked how women should change in the midst of a still conservative Korean society, Lee said, "There aren"t many vacancies in the highest positions, not only in the media but also in other fields for women. And unfortunately, the government can"t do much to expand more jobs, and therefore, the women themselves must endeavor to carve out new fields of work in order to create more space for jobs."
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