Jeon Aron refers to herself as a cat lady, of which she has two, and a thirsty soul. Despite how she might refer to herself, most people see her as the Editor-in-chief of ‘Daehak Naeil’. ‘Daehak Naeil’ is a magazine that was founded in 1999, roughly 17 years ago. Weekly, about 40,000 editions are produced and distributed to about 170 universities across the country. It also ranks first among weekly university magazines targeting university students. SMT met Jeon Aron to learn more about her and the magazine she heads up.
Would you tell us a little about the ‘Daehak Naeil’ publication process?
Before any publication is done, for each issue, we hold a planning session. Staff consider possible magazine content and once we have made a decision on what to include, reporters are given their assignments. Some reporters should do investigative research and others should do on-site investigation. Once an article is written and has passed several editing and copy-editing procedures, staff discuss layout with our design team. This process is very important because a printed magazine, unlike a newspaper, includes color images along with the articles. Once this is done, the final step is the final proof-reading and revising stage. We ask the print shop to provide us with a pre-print version and we ensure layout and make sure there are no typos. The entire process takes a week, so we are always busy and frantic, but it’s enjoyable.
Just before you said, “Before any publication is done, for each issue, we hold a planning session.” What do you consider or look for in an article during your brainstorming sessions?
"Daehak Naeil’ is lifestyle guide for people in their 20s. Therefore, a topic that is deemed relevant to people in their 20s and/or helpful is guaranteed a place in the magazine. However, this does not we write about anything. We look at various criteria such as expected reader reactions, timeliness, and novelty before making a decision. Also, at the planning stage, we also decide publication dates and article direction. For these reasons, our planning sessions are frequent and often fierce.
What made you decide to work for the magazine company, 'Daehak Naeil’?
I have enjoyed reading magazines since childhood, and ever since my teen years, I have dreamt of becoming a writer. After entering university, I fine-tuned by dream of writing into journalistic writing and eventually becoming an editor-in-chief. I think it was for this very reason, among the multitude of magazines out there, I decided to apply to 'Daehak Naeil’. It felt like the most appropriate place for me to better my abilities and it just felt closer to my heart than any other magazine. It freed me to write on a variety of issues and through a variety of journalistic styles.
It couldn’t have been easy to rise through the ranks and become editor-in-chief. Would you share some of your challenges throughout the years?
Until last year, I worked at a reporter. It is only recently that I have become editor-in-chief. As a reporter, I worked with many magazine divisions such as culture, planning, and photography. In each division, I was responsible for numerous articles, some in conjunction with other reporters, and edited numerous photos for the magazine’s cover page. The company follows a flat organization management style. Under the supervision of the editor-in-chief, every reporter is responsible for her or his own article and we don’t follow any hierarchy.
As editor-in-chief, what is the most difficult challenge you face at work?
The work of an editor-in-chief is actually completely different from that of my expectations. My role is to create a better environment for my fellow colleagues and lead the magazine down an even brighter path than the one it is on. Also, I need to maintain and make certain all operations go smoothly for publication. Let me explain it in simpler terms. If reporters are trees that bear fruit, an editor-in-chief would be the farmer cultivating the trees. All aspects of farming are difficult work. Though I am editor-in-chief, there are times when I truly miss writing articles.
What is the most precious aspect of working for 'Daehak Naeil'?
Now that you make me think about it, I’d have to say participating in over 50 magazines in a year. This means I’ve contributed to several hundred of the magazine editions. It’s hard to believe I’ve done this work for so long. I have being writing something every week for quite some time now. Through the process, I have improved the quantity of my articles. My work here at the magazine is invaluable. I’m sure it will become my greatest asset. In addition, from my numerous writings, I have been able to come to know myself better.
Among all the articles you’ve written, which one or ones are the most memorable and satisfying and why?
Because the editor-in-chief manages the entire magazine publication process, today you will not find my name on any of the articles. However, thinking about my work in the past, my most memorable articles are the interviews with my favorite writer Han Gang and reporter Kim Hyeri. I was once the student of writer Han Gang in middle school, and interestingly, near the end of the interview, she suddenly said she recognized my face and knew I’d been her student years prior. She even went on to say how happy she was that I had chosen to enter a career than required writing. Hearing her words, I was overcome and got goose bumps all over my arms. When I interviewed journalist Kim Hyeri, she talked a lot about her weaknesses, which hit a cord with me as I also felt I suffered from the same weaknesses. It was a great comfort to learn that I was not alone at that time.
It’s been said that 'Daehak Naeil’ doesn’t place much emphasis on educational background when it recruits new employees but instead, looks at experience and competence as factors determining offers of employment. What kinds of things did you prepare in advance before applying to the company?
The job as editor-in-chief does not correlate to school name. Personally, I engaged in numerous and diverse activities and also worked a student reporter for 'Deahak Naeil'. In addition to that, I took courses at an academy and took on a job as a reporter for a college fashion magazine. Through those activities, I increased and bettered my portfolio, which I believe, highlighted my ability and passion. One’s portfolio is a record of one’s journalistic endeavors and a vital item for a reporter as it demonstrates one’s writing and planning ability. I highly recommend taking a journalism course or trying your hand at journalism writing, for it is a great way to learn about fields you might have never considered or thought about before.
When people think of 'Daehak Naeil’, the first thing that comes to mind is its cover. Have you ever received any negative criticism about sexual objectification of women in terms of magazine models? That is, most of your models are females not males and the models tend to be dressed fairly skimpily and posed seductively. Would you like to comment on this?
Yes, that is a touchy subject. We are always open to male models, but whenever we place a male model on the cover, we find that people are less liable to pick up a copy of the magazine and we find that the magazine is often discarded or tossed into the trash. It is a huge concern. We also fully recognize that women are not sex objects to be used to increase the target audience. Hence, we do not intend to glorify women’s bodies with the magazine cover. We are always paying attention to how we are perceived and looking for alternatives.
What are you future plans or direction for ‘Daehak Naeil’?
It is an undeniable fact that the world is moving increasingly away from paper media towards more visual and audio methods. However, I believe print will never really disappear, and I know there are plenty of people who know the attraction of print and enjoy it. Currently, the magazine offers a crossword puzzle at the end of the magazine, and we are receiving lots of SNS replies from readers who solve it weekly. Therefore, we are proposing an extension to this so that people can enjoy more activities requiring paper and pen. We are also going to open a section in which readers are free to send in comments and feedback. Keep an eye out for it.
As editor-in-chief of 'Daehak Naeil’, I think you must be living a constant 20-year-old lifestyle in order to stay in tune with university students. Would you please give our Sookmyungians who are waiting to enter the business world some advice on how to realize their dreams?
Nowadays, students give up on their dreams too easily. I know it is not always their fault and much of it has to do with society and the world we live in. In Korean society, social has dictated a certain standard of life for people. For example, most people believe getting a job that earns the person a lot of money is being successful. However, it is my hope that the youth of today live doing what their heart desires because no one knows the meaning of life or the best path in life. Be true to yourself!
• Graduate of the Department of Business Administration at the Catholic University of Korea, 2010
• Entered ‘Daehak Naeil’ in 2010
• Became Editor-in-Chief of ‘Daehak Naeil’ in 2015
• Author ofthe Book <We Are All Sparkling Exception> Published in 2016