The Closed-Page–The Provincial Policies of Korean Dailies

By Iwazaru

One of the reasons we started 3WM (and DDD before it) was to provide a platform for writers whose work the traditional dailies usually rejected. During this most recent hiatus, through spring and summer of 2015, I have been advising high school students on researching, writing, and submitting op-eds to Korean dailies with the hope of getting them published. The submission process proved confounding and frustrating from the beginning. First, none of the students got any reply from the editors at the Korea Times, the Korea Herald or the JoongAng Daily. Not a “thank you for your submission” or a “at this time we cannot find a place for your work.” Nothing.

When I followed up on this failure to reply, I also got no reply. So I called and, in several cases, no one answered the phones at these papers. Finally, I reached an editor at the Korea Times who said he had not gotten the emails. “Send it again,” he said. Editors at the other papers said the same thing. Eventually, after following up on follow-ups, some of the students had their work published. But the process remained the same: submit; no reply; follow-up by email; no reply; call, often without an answer; editor says he did not receive email; send again; maybe see it published. Perhaps the worst experience occurred with the Korea Times when, after trying to reach the editor, another editor shouted into the phone, “Who is this? Don’t you have his direct number?!!!” Then, when I tried to explain that this was the number I had, he shouted, “LISTEN! LISTEN! You can call him tomorrow. LISTEN! I have work to do!”

Then there were the responses from the Herald’s editorial staff. Below is one that has not been altered.

Dear Mr. Rodgers,

thank you for your continuing interest in The Korea Herald.

Regarding the latest sumission, unfortunately we are unable to find space for it.

And we would appreciate if you understand that we very rarely and exceptionally publish

articles written by high school students.

Thank you very much for your understanding.


The Korea Herald.

보낸 사람:
보낸 날짜: 2015년 9월 7일 월요일 오후 12:08
받는 사람: opinion; 천시영
제목: Follow-up– Reader’s View Submission: Regionalism

Good day to you, Editor.

I am writing to follow up on the submission that I made last week. Please let me know what the status of the submission is and if there’s anything else that you need from me.

Best regards,

These days, if you take the time to read the Herald’s Opinion pages, you’ll find almost all the content is syndicated with a dearth of local voices. As I said in my reply to the rejection email:

I find it baffling to now receive notification that the voices of Korea’s youth are “very rarely” and “exceptionally” published. Is a strong and relevant submission dismissed solely because of the age of the writer? I now notice more and more filler (syndicated) articles lining your opinion pages with less and less from Koreans. I recently shared a piece [column] by Kim Seong-kon with my students and another by Kim Kyung-ho, both written about Korean society and the youth. Would a student’s response to these serious issues be given short shrift because it’s coming from the very youth that the elders are writing about?

Unsurprisingly, I didn’t get a reply.

Meanwhile, the Times was willing to publish clearly dubious/satirical pieces, which eluded the attention of the editors but not of the expat community and ultimately elicited an apology titled “Letter to our dear readers,” penned by the chief editorial writer whose email address is “[email protected].” I have little doubt this is the man who shouted at me on the phone.

At the same time, the JoongAng (and the KT) rejected the following two submissions–one about unethical snack packaging by Korean companies, the other about regionalism during MERS–saying “next time please,” to the first and “topic and quality problem” to the second. Nonetheless, it was more than willing to run a xenophobic and hated-laced submissions by a writer who identified himself as  “Steven, Resident in Seoul” (for obvious reasons).

Bottom line: Nothing has changed over the past decade. And with that, 3WM carries on, knowing that the status quo stands with the traditional media here, that the establishment keeps playing the same tune, aware of but opposed to any alternative views on the basis of ageism, sexism, nationalism, ethnocentrism, et al.

Rejected Op-Eds

Companies Fill Bags with Air, Not Snacks–How Korean snack makers are stiffing customers with air instead of snacks. (By Junhyung Han)

United We Stand, Divided We Fall–How the MERS virus exposed the deep regionalism across the peninsula. (By Junsung Kim)




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