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Here is the e-mail I’ve got several times this month here in Forbes from social media department. They are rolling several balls at once including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Windows Live and so on. How many accounts do you have among these? How many accounts should I have not to feel lazy as a journalist? Yes, we are getting even busier than ever.

In early 2000s, Korean social network service Cyworld hit a home run with 19 million users. Practically every South Korea in their 20s and 25 percent of the total population had Cyworld accounts. Members cultivate relationship by forming Ilchon or “friendships” with each other through their minihompy. Avartars and “mini-rooms”, small, decorate-able, apartment-like spaces in an isometric projection, also feature.

However, the number of its user had dropped and most minihompy is not active any more. Normally people who already knew each other became Ilchon and shared private messages, photos and music. You could have deepened your personal acquaintances but it was rare to get   engaged to strangers in Cyworld. It was a kind of broadened private arena but you seldom give and take professional opinions each other because normally your Ilchon is your school friends, families and coworkers.

As users want more professional cyber place to share their opinion and information, Cyworld lost its frequent users surprisingly fast. People moved to blogs. Just a few years later, Facebook and Twitter became dominant social network service in Korea. Users transferred to more open-minded and fast-sharing ground. If Milton were still alive, he would call Facebook and Google modern-day Areopagitica.

Arthur Miller, the American playwright said a good newspaper was like “a nation talking to itself.” It was editors and reporters who had all the say in the past. The media is finally letting the audience join, too. Journalists decided what to report in the past but everyone can make a public issue now. People report and distribute it by themselves via social network service. We journalists are pretty much busy following people. We are not in the front row any more. This makes me bethink what differently I have to find a story and write it.

To quote Paul Ford in New York Magazine, social Media have no understanding of anything aside from the connections between individuals and the ceaseless flow of time: No beginnings, and no endings. These disparate threads of human existence alternately fascinate and horrify that part of the media world that grew up on topic sentences and strong conclusions. This world of old media is like a giant steam punk machine that organizes time into stories.

Obsessed with Facebook or not, it makes us think about how journalism is in danger of being reduced to soulless, disjointed nuggets as blogging platforms and reporting, too. How much time do I have to spare for social network service for searching and sharing? How frequently do need to update my Facebook homepage?

It seems that I have no choice but to being a social media myself.

Since enabling consumers visiting to use IDs and passwords from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and other social accounts to sign up and comments, its registrations and comments have doubled. My home publication Money Today—Korean daily business newspaper—is also operating social media team but it’s not that successful so far.

Korean media companies are struggling to increase visitors using social network service, but most Korean reporters are not really active to do. Sometimes they post their articles and comment on social issues as well, but Facebook is more oriented for reinforcing private relation just like Cyworld. Twitter is an issue-following tool. However, most Korean reporters feel pressure to check real-time issue. This is why my home publication launched social media team separately and all of its members are reporters. There’s no technical staff or social media expert.

Starting my career as a reporter 9 years ago, I’ve learnt from my senior editor that a journalist says only by his article. “Don’t speak too much. Your article should show everything you want to say.” But I guess I might be more talkative in social media world whether I want to be or not.

Things change. People change as well.


It’s well-known that leading newspapers and magazines in the United States are in financial difficulties since the global financial crisis.

But I would say the classical print media already lost its hegemony due to the prevalence of the Internet more than 10 years ago.

The media industry of South Korea is in the similar situation with the United States. Print media is struggling to survive.

As audiences become more interested in daily economic issues and asset management for the meantime, Korean business newspapers are relatively privileged to survive.

However, government allowed three comprehensive programming broadcasts and two news channels to open at once last year and it caused serious zero sum game in advertising market.

As a result, print media is suffering from reduced subscribers and shrinking advertising revenue in a row. Korea’s leading newspapers might have to layoff not a few journalists within a few years just like New York Times did.

I was anxious to know how American print media was coping with this fundamental risk and was evolving into future media.

Definitely, American media companies are larger-scale and well managed as a company. They employed professional managers from the other industry—this is rare in Korean newspaper companies—and also tried various changes.

For example, many print media is issued in Kindle, Nook and iPad to appeal digital audiences.

Unlike the United States, it’s uncommon to read e-book in Korea. Even Koreans have Samsung Galaxy Note comparable to iPad, we still prefer printed books. It’s hard to see a newly book has an e-book format.

So, it was very interesting to me to observe how American audiences enjoy reading in daily lives. Whenever I get on the subway, I easily found people reading books by Nook or Kindle. But I couldn’t see anyone read newspapers or magazines by with a tablet.

As a newly Nook user, I myself subscribed several newspapers and magazines—it’s much cheaper than the printed—but I also felt that e-newspapers are still far from luring readers.

I couldn’t figure out which article was the most valuable to read in each section unlike printed newspapers. They were not visually charming.

On the other hand, e-magazine was actually nice but subscribers are not the majority to offset its early production cost yet. If a flexible display becomes commercially available, we may see e-newspaper and e-magazine would get popular, I guess.

Innovation is cool, but it comes at a price. I wondered how print media companies kept the quality of contents after large-scale layoff.

Yes, this is a scary story to me as a journalist.

I was surprised when I look at Time, the No.1 American magazine. It was thin and the visual image of the cover story was irritating. My jaw dropped.

Let me talk about Forbes. The magazine’s volume is still as thick as before. But this doesn’t mean Forbes has the same number of reporters as before.

There are about 800 contributors and they got paid by clicks, but most of them are willing to contribute for free. Forbes is producing the more contents with fewer journalists.

Creating not only magazine but also online contents every day, Forbes seems to maintain its own color. Making the most of social media including Facebook and Twitter, it increased more engaged readers dramatically as well.

In despite of Forbes’ well-marked innovation over the two years, I don’t want to say this is the only way how print media can survive.

The internationally recognized new media visionary Roger Fidler said in the midterm seminar for the AFPF fellows, “Newspaper is just one of the infinite ways that audiences can get information now. It costs a lot to produce as well.”

Nevertheless, Fidler didn’t say that print media would die.

It just can’t stay what it is and what it was. Then, how should print media change?

I didn’t find any clear answer to this question. However I don’t doubt journalists ourselves have the key in our invisible hands to communicate with digital audiences moving at the speed of light.

When North Korea failed to launch a new missile, one of my colleagues at Forbes urged me to report on the surge of the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI).

Whenever North Korea mobilizes violent means, foreign investors rush to sell Korean stocks due to concerns they won’t be able to liquidate the stocks. However, that kind of panic always eases a few days or weeks later and the KOSPI recovers to earlier stable records.

I did not write anything as suggested by my colleague but I felt inexperienced about North Korean issues. Frankly speaking, I am ashamed to admit that I know little more than what Americans do about our northern neighbours. From reporting business over nine and a half years, I have been researching business and nothing else. But it cannot be an excuse for my ignorance and indifference about the north.

South Koreans in my generation grew up singing the song ‘Our hope is unification.’ On the other hand, all elementary students had to submit slogans of anti-communism.

South Koreans born in the 70s like me read an elementary textbook that had the story of Lee Seung-Bok, a 10-year-old boy who was said to have died saying, “I dislike the Communist Party”. Lee and his family were murdered by armed communist guerillas in 1968. Lee’s story was removed from national textbooks in 1995. Many historians and journalists questioned the story first reported by daily newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

In South Korea, the ruling party had often exaggerated stories that the North would recruit conservative voters during the election season. This does not work with voters any more but the younger generation feels disillusioned with politicians and have turned their backs on politics.

Living in one of the most competitive countries in the world, young Koreans are more geared towards passing their examinations, getting into a good university and getting a good job. They care nothing about politics and political slogans.

In fact, there are few young Koreans still interested in the dream of unification, especially given that it is 59 years since the ceasefire in 1953. The families that were separated in the split have gotten used to it; if you had been 20 years old in 1953, you are 79 now.

This is still not an accurate assumption because the 24,000 North Korean defections over the years have doubtless resulted in split families.

Unlike its northern neighbour, South Korea has developed very fast over several decades. The unification of the two Koreas only seemed possible with the death of Kim Jong-Il and South Koreans were tired of waiting for change in the north.

Kim Jong-Il and Ri Sol-Ju

Kim’s death last year brought with it the hope that the unification would happen but this seems impossible now as Kim Jong-Un seems intent to take after his father.

There’s still no freedom of speech, with citizens living with the fear of government agencies at every turn.

According to Reporters Without Borders, North Korea was ranked 178 on the press freedom index. South Korea was placed 44th.

A senior reporter from Forbes India recommended that I read “Nothing To Envy: Ordinary Lives” in North Korea. I stumbled upon the book at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where we had the mid-term seminar for the Alfred Friendly Press Fellows.

It was hard to put the book down once I started reading.

South Koreans know about the terrible economic and social situation in North Korea but the stories of six defectors from the north shocked me.

We can’t expect normal life if millions of people are dying of hunger in this country of 24 million.

“Escape from Camp 14” tells the story of Shin Dong-Hyuk, who was born and raised in a political prison.

Shin finally escaped from Camp 14 but still suffers from the physical and psychological wounds from the prison.

Before he left the prison, Shin knew nothing about a civilized existence. He saw his mother as a competitor for food; guards raised him to be a snitch. He told on his mother’s plan to escape and witnessed the execution of his family.

Shin is roughly the same age as Kim Jong-Eun (around 30), but their lives are extremely different.

Another book about North Korea has been published this month, “Escape From North Korea” by Melanie Kirkpatrick.

North Koreans travel along a secret route known as the new underground railroad to reach free countries via unwelcoming China. This book shows their harsh but brave way to freedom and also tells of the potential of the North Korean people.

From these three books, one can tell that defectors feel discouraged to adapt to South Korean society. The indifference and discrimination of South Koreans to defectors makes it harder to be assimilated.

It made me feel guilty.

I’ve never met a defector from North Korea before. Where are the 24,000 who have come to South Korea since the year 2,000?

Of course, they are a minority numerically in South Korea but there’s something wrong.

These defectors are a bridge to a unified Korea. If South Koreans can’t embrace 24,000 defectors, we can’t do 24 million North Koreans.

I feel embarrassed to have gotten this self-evident conclusion from American books, not from South Koreans.

Shin’s book was published in South Korea but it went without any attention from the media. The book was well received in the United States.

Maybe we South Koreans think we know enough to understand North Koreans.

To quote Patrick Daihui Cheh, one of the producers of “Crossing”, a South Korean feature film about a father and son’s escape from North Korea, “We know, but we don’t really know.”

New York is full of free outdoor concerts each week in summer season and it makes foreigners and tourists fascinated by the diversity and cultural richness of this city. I stopped at Lincoln Center to watch free performances last Friday night.

There were not many people at first and it was easy to occupy a seat. The performance started by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance ensemble. It is an international, cross-cultural, dance-arts and educational institution rooted in African American traditions.

All artists were consisted of African American artists, and they showed unique and distinctive performances. It was really exotic experience.

I have seen the performance of the New York City Ballet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Lincoln Center before. It guided me to a classical beauty of ballet. But Cleo Parker Robinson Dance introduced me more cross-cultural and dynamic interest.

Music concert after the dance performances were joyful as well. The main singer was Valerie Simpson. The concert was a tribute to her husband Nick Ashford. He died last year. They were songwriting/production team and recording artists.

Ashford and Simpson met at Harlem’s White Rock Baptist Church in 1963. They song together till Ashford passed away. Simpson exhibited his photos as a stage background while she sang songs she had sung with him in the past.

Her music was nice though I heard her songs for the first time. She’s sixty-five years old now, but her talent as a singer seemed not to be rusty. Yes, she is a maestro inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2002.

A few songs like “I’m Every Woman” and “Ain’t No Mountains High Enough” were familiar to me. Outdoor venues were crowded with audiences and people really enjoyed her music. Though I went there by myself, I was assimilated into the mood shaking my shoulders.

On my god!

Then, suddenly a couple in front of me started kissing passionately. They looked to be over 60s. Listening to the romantic R&B song, they didn’t stop kissing till the end of the music.

I couldn’t avoid seeing them to watch the stage because they were in my front row. I was embarrassed that I couldn’t find where to put my eyes. I should feel natural but still I can’t feel comfortable with New Yorkers express their affection even in public places.

Don’t laugh at me, fellows. I could never be a real New Yorker, I admit.

Whenever I look up at the sunshine beyond the skyscrapers of Manhattan, I imagine how the sky looks in Korea- just the same blue in the summer. But this summer is hot, so I seldom leave my apartment when it is this warm, unless, of course, it is a day like last Sunday and there is a Gay Pride Parade.

Streets were crowded with people watching the parade. There were also policemen, just like there were during Occupy Wall Street, but the air was quite different. It was the most colorful festival I’ve ever seen. Gays and lesbians in the parade wore colorful costumes and accessories, and didn’t hesitate to reveal lots of skin. It was beautiful, awesome and also a little bit weird in some aspects.

Everyone around seemed to enjoy the show regardless of their sexual identity. I was busy taking photos when a man in the parade approached and handed a souvenir- a necklace. A girl will smile when you give her a necklace, especially if it has a condom in it.

President Barack Obama’s support for same-sex marriages has been a much-debated issue, especially given that the elections are four months away. Did he calculate the number of gay voters or the campaign funds he could raise by taking this stand? Whatever his intention is, I support his view in the sense that anyone for any reason shall not be subjected to social discrimination.

I believe people do not choose to be gay, that God makes them that way. Unlike the situation here in New York, however, it’s hard to see gays showing off openly. Does Korea have a smaller gay population than the United States?

The U.S. city with the highest GLB (gay, lesbian and bisexual) population is New York City with an estimated 272,493 GLB residents, according to American Community Survey. The U.S. metropolitan areas with the most GLB residents are New York–Northern New Jersey–Long Island, with an estimated 568,903 GLB residents.

Unfortunately, there are no official records of the GLB population of Korea. I’d imagine there are less there, although the population of Seoul is 1.9 million more than  that of New York.

It’s difficult to imagine a gay parade in Korea. Most gays are afraid of coming out because most Korean men are still conservative and would not accept homosexuality.

Kim Soo Hyun, one of the oldest and famous TV writers in Korea, scripted a controversial drama last year. In it, the promising son in a family leaves their home  and goes to live with his boyfriend, who has recently divorced. The drama was touching. But Kim had to confront a lot of criticism against homosexuality till the drama ended and even after it had ended.

Gay Pride Parade reminded me of L, my best friend. I have known L for 12 years but he only came out to me last fall. I had no idea he was gay but hearing of his agony made me emotional. We cried and hugged after he came out.

He has had a boyfriend for four years, he told me, but most of his friends and colleagues think that he’s dating a woman. L is in deep anguish, he has lived the past 39 years without coming out.

Obligatory military service of Korea makes life even harder for men like L, and he is considering emigrating to the United States or Australia.

When I asked L what he hopes would be the first thing he would do on leaving Korea, he said would want to take a walk with his boyfriend, holding hands like a couple. It seems like a simple thing for heterosexuals to do but it is a desperate hope for L.

I don’t care about the scientific reason why some people love people of the same sex. I just don’t want my best friend-who always gives me a wise advice and cheers me up whenever I feel weary- to leave his country because of social prejudice and discrimination.

On the way home, I imagined how it would be if I could participate in the gay parade in the heart of Seoul someday.

One of my goals in the American newsroom is to improve my interview skill. I asked John, my mentor, to introduce me a senior colleague so I could accompany him and observe how to ask questions and to attract answers from interviewees.

John linked me to Daniel Fisher, a senior Fobes editor lives in Connecticut. He usually works in his house. However, he comes to the office once or twice a week with several interviews from morning to evening. He was an enthusiastic journalist making efforts to meet people instead of sitting on a desk and calling.

Daniel and I had a morning meeting with Daniel Neiman, the chief financial officer in Neiman Funds Management LLC. Neiman Funds is a part of a $400 million financial management group with offices in New York and California.$400 million is not slathers of money in mutual fund world but Neiman Funds is one of very few funds who seek to add income potential through the use of covered calls.

Neiman Funds generates income from dividends, premiums from selling covered call options and gains when stocks are sold at a profit. Even though I covered stock market for one year in my home newsroom, I’ve never met a fund manager who operates covered call strategy. It was interesting. I could learn new investment strategy from Daniel. When I need a covered call professional for my story, I could contact to him again.

Next meeting was to have a lunch with Tim Clift, chief investment strategist in Envestnet. Envesnet is a kind of Bloomberg for individual investment advisers and financial advisors affiliated with an independent broker-dealer. It provides financial advisers with investment proposals, portfolio and easy-to-read reports. It is a listed company.

It was written in Envestnet’s brochure that 39 of 50 leading firms affiliated with an independent broker-dealer use Envestnet. It sounded weird to me that most of financial advisers use actually same or similar portfolio, asset allocation and strategy designed by one company. Most of their individual customers might not know it. As far as I know, there’s no this kind of company in Korea. But I need to double check it.

The third schedule of that day was to visit AnheuserBusch InBev., the largest beer company in the world. The company is rarely seen in the media. Daniel and I went to its global headquarter on Park Avenue. There is no beer factory but its global headquarter in Manhattan is the global control center of AnheuserBusch InBev.

There were just about 100 employees in the office because most of them go abroad for business trip so often. I got detailed company history especially about its previous merger & acquisitions. The meeting enhanced me to understand AnheuserBusch InBev. But all I heard was off the record.

The 2,983 names of the killed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, and February 26, 1993, are in scribed into bronze parapets surrounding the twin Memorial pools, located in the footprints of the Twin Towers.

Finally it was time to call Daniel Libeskind for my own story, the master planner of Ground Zero. I prepared twenty questions and asked PR agency a press kit about the master plan of Yongsan International Business District in Korea Daniel deals with. He is a warm-hearted architect who believes that architecture should make a balance with its neighbors.After a long call with Daniel—he was in Washington D.C. at that time—I thought I had to visit the Ground Zero and read his biography before I write his story. And I did. Now I realize what every single word of his meant while we were talking each other.It’s hard to communicate with interviewee only by phone to me. Korean reporters hate interviewing by phone because we can’t fully feel who the interview is. No matter how long I write a story about an interviewee, I even might not be able to notice him on the street without seeing his face. It’s irony.

However, in the United States, we sometimes have no choice but to calling. The territory of the US is too huge and people are scattered in this broad land. One solution might prepare for it more and more.


Times Square is a place you can’t miss visiting in New York. Crowded with people even at night, it seems a prototype of th city never sleeps. You may not recognize it’s already midnight because of  lots of electric displays emits stong light. 

Gazing at the glamorous billboards like Coca Cola, I was instinctively searching for billboards of Samsung and LG. Though I had hesitated choosing one between iPhone and Galaxy phone before I bought my mobile phone and I was absorbed in reading the biography of Steve Jobs, I’m a defintely Korean.

I was toxicated by people in Times Square and they left a strong impression to me. Foreign tourists, domestic tourists and young New Yorkers were there at the sme time. Among them, needless to say, what surprised me most was so called Naked Cowgirl. The Naked Cowgirl on her bikini swimsuit was in the center of the street holding a guitar. It’s impossible to imagine in Korea.

“How can she dressed like that stand in front of people with so natural smile?” I muttered. The Naked Cowgirl was willing to take a picture with people and exchanged smiles. It was an unexpected pleasure. A block across the road near to Toys ‘R’ Us store, was Naked Cowboy forming a pair with the Naked Cowgirl. A moment of laughter exploded.

Is he her boyfriend or just a like-minded friend? I wondered. How old are they and what do they do for their livings? Many questions emerged. I was enjoying their performances like many other tourists.

You will see the Naked Cowgirl and the Naked Cowboy in Times Square, in addition to a spiderman and a goddess Of liberty. You can meet Free-huggers give hugs to others freely. One thing they have in common is that they make people smile regardless of who they are.

I thought it might be a small gift the American culture which emphasizes freedom of expression more than anything else delivers to strangers.