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Discussion about the Korean Media's Inclination to Over-Represent the International Presence in Korea

I had an interesting email exchange this week with an acquaintance in academia about the role of foreigners in leadership positions in Korea. I made the following comment:

Are there really any long-term successful cases [of foreigners in leadership positions in Korea] that are more than objects of curiosity? We've already spoken of Charm Lee; it seems the incoming Korean president has her own pet foreigner, Dr. John Linton, who's going to head up some integration department or something, I believe. But Dr. Linton (if I recall correctly) grew up in Korea as the son of American missionaries, so how typical can he be considered? I heard it through the grapevine that Charm Lee ended up feeling somewhat isolated in his position there at Tourism Korea.... I suppose there might be other cases that don't hit the news, but I doubt if many/any since the Korean media is digging so hard to find whatever foreign faces they can put on TV and the newspaper....

My acquaintance commented on my choice of words, such as "objects of curiosity" and "pet foreigner", and he asked me if could back up my statement about how the Korean media is digging to find foreign faces they can put on TV and the print media.. To which I responded as follows:

I don't have any data per se about the media's inclination to over-represent the international presence in Korea, but based on living here, it's pretty obvious. 

How else do you think I got on TV, in magazines, the newspaper over the last couple years? It's certainly not because I had anything particularly interesting to share other than my experience and perspective as a foreigner.

There's a morning show that translates to "Human Theater"; it's a weekly series of cute five-day documentaries about the lives of ordinary people in Korea with special stories to share... At least half the time, there's an international element to it. We have this show on after breakfast at our house most weekdays...

The same few people pop up in the media all the time... 

I used to read the Chungang Ilbo newspaper (owned by Samsung) and their Saturday edition tends to include these stories a lot... 

I was at a conference on North Korea a couple years ago and attended with another Westerner. There were a couple hundred Koreans in the room, too. Guess who's photos showed up on the front page of the newspaper the next day, with the caption "Foreign Researchers"?.... (To be fair, I recall there were two other Westerners in the room who didn't get into the paper though...)

They have an annual event here that's a Korean copy of TED called TECH+; they were practically begging foreigners to sit in the audience by giving tickets away a couple years ago... 

This fact has actually been a bit of a disappointment for me on KBC; One of my goals was to increase my network in Korea; problem is that within six months I was connected to everybody and the same people show up at all the expat events... There's very little additional networking available at this point since the community is so small...
It can't be much different here than anywhere else in Asia...

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