Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Extra! Extra!

Warning: Rant.

One thing that is particularly irksome about living in the ROK is the circus known as the Korean press. 

Any long term waeg will have plenty to rant about what passes for journalism in Korea, and with due reason: nearly every story you read in newspapers or see on TV about waegs is overwhelmingly negative at best, downright fabricated and contrived at worst.

Whenever I hear some body get their hate on about representations of various ethnic groups in media back home, I simply shake my head, since those mouths seem more intent on pointing the finger yelling "J'accuse!" instead of taking a hard look and honestly assessing what happens in their home countries.  Glass houses and all that.  But then, there is an established tradition of poking fun at our own idiocy and critically reflecting on the stoopid things we do as individuals and as nations, mmm?

One aspect I find particularly annoying is how frequently articles will simply disappear from the press.  I was reminded of this when I read the latest post from Gusts of Popular Feeling.  I know where he is coming from.  During different times in my life here, I took to grabbing screen shots of articles since I knew that sooner or later it would likely disappear.  This would have been great if some asshat who was to reformat my computer hadn't accidentally erased my hard drive before backing it up a couple years back.  I lost so much that sad, sad day, but I digress.

I know this can be the case with publications worldwide, but the problem seems acute here.  How much hard disk space do you really need to save a story?  As far as ethics are concerned, don't newspapers have the duty to preserve everything written for future reference?  How can you lay claim to being a serious newspaper if most of your stories simply cease to exist, making it impossible to reference, research, assess, at a later date?  In Korea, it seems the case that once an article serves its purpose to distract or inflame, it simply is disappeared into the ether.  No muss, no fuss, it never was.

My own experiences with the press have been far from stellar: when interviewed, not once has a reporter used a recording device.  Often times, I've been met with outright hostility from either the reporter or the photographer, who would very obviously snort whenever I presented an (accurate) image of a waeg contributing meaningfully to Korean society.  This was the case during my last interview, during which the photographer was downright rude and antagonistic during the entire interview.  It turned into a complete gong show, with the photographer being booted from the premises.  The article never ran.  This pair represented the most prestigious Korean daily. 

My thoughts?  I didn't fit the narrative of the pillaging waeg.  In that narrative, I am only here to demean, abuse, and corrupt my pure, innocent, kind and generous Korean hosts.   By the terms of this narrative, I can contribute nothing of worth to this society, and if I present an image of actually participating in a meaningful way, I must obviously be lying.  White devil!  That was the impression I was left with after this last incident.  Every society needs their scapegoats, so suck it up and know your place, waegs.

Given the general lack of professionalism and ethical conduct, I can only feel unabashed schadenfreude when watching something like this, wishing it would happen with frequency to Korean reporters:

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