Lim Jung-ah (’94, Media Studies) was one of the first few to be respected and accepted as a woman working in the media business. She has produced much popular Korean entertainment programs as Golden Fishery, We Got Married, and Yook-a Il-gi, to be exalted by viewers. She has also had the honor of accepting the 2007 MBC Program Producer Award. Lim had never once decided to officially work as a producer (PD) when she was older; it was never listed in her Top Ten dream jobs.
“As cheesy as it sounds, it’s like the job chose me,” Lim said. “It was a perfect fit.”
She had always loved telling stories and expressing her opinions. Utilizing this trait to her advantage, she took on countless part-time jobs, and meet a diverse people.
“It’s just that I love making people laugh and have fun, and I believe that’s key in this business.” Lim said.
Soon after graduating from Ewha, Lim went straight into the Department of Communication graduate program at Ewha for two years; but it was not all study for nothing. She had only gone to graduate school to learn enough to take the entrance exam for the Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) entrance exam.
“I realized I had no way of measuring up to my other much eligible candidates, considering the fact that I’m a girl, an Ewha graduate, and I was just too young; all the PDs at the time were guys, as it is not exactly a befitting image for a woman to be associated with mechanical devices.”
Against all odds, Lim passed the entrance exam in one go. Despite this much-applauded success, it was yet a much bumpier ride as a producer of the MBC.
“I was literally in actual, serious physical pain—I couldn’t wash; I couldn’t sleep; I couldn’t eat,” Lim said. “It was always ‘the next job after that, the next job after that, and the next job after that’ and it wasn’t as if the shows’ viewer ratings were helping either.”
Regardless of her tireless and demanding schedule, which is true of any job as a PD, there are, the pros to go with these cons. Just by the look of her co-workers’ and viewers’ joyous expressions from watching her completed program took her stress away.
“In those days, male PDs never worked with women as their co-workers before, so it was definitely awkward and difficult at first,” Lim said. “Admit it, they couldn’t trust a woman to do their job.”
It wasn’t until her popular entertainment program called Yook-a Il-gi, which she produced, was acknowledged to have an inherently higher sensitivity to the smallest details, and thus a deeper connection with the viewers, as the ratings for female viewers to her program dramatically increased.
Yook-a Il-gi was a reality program based on a group of five men, of the popular boy band G.O.D., who take care of a baby all on their own. During the show, a small dispute between her and the other male PDs occurred in such a scene when G.O.D. member Ho-yung coaxed the baby into drinking his milk.
“It was something that only female viewers could understand and enjoy, and that’s how that whole argument with my fellow male co-workers started because they didn’t want to cast that scene,” Kim said.
Ever since then, she gained much respect as a PD, managing popular programs as Golden Fishery, Yook-a Il-gi, Love House, We Got Married and Sunday-Sunday Night. As of now, she is still managing as a producer for the latter show.
“It is indeed as hard as it looks to become a successful PD, especially since you’re a woman,” Kim said.
She offered to give a piece of advice to aspire students with her college experience, coated with a steady mind, sensitivity to detail, and a strong heart.
“Producers act as storytellers—they tell their stories through images, in a combination of pictures, music, and writing,” Kim said. “As a PD, you must always produce your senses and emotions into images, so you need to have had a lot of experiences on your plate.”
“Not even as a college student, but as a PD, it’s important to have fun along the ride,” Kim said. “The process, the end result, must all be for the fun of it, not for any material profit.”