Edward G. Bulwer says, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” In other words, a person’s words can cause people to change their opinions on a large scale whereas a sword can only change a person’s opinion by force, which often only results in the person’s death. Phrases are more effective than violence, and there are people who work by the pen. They write influential and powerful articles using content, sentences, and even single words. There is one reporter doing such work. The Sookmyung Times (SMT) met reporter Kwak Minyoung (KWAK), who lives life fully and is preparing for her future.
SMT When you counsel young students, has the experience of being a university reporter helped you? How was your university reporter life?
KWAK When I became a reporter for the Sookmyung Times, I just wanted to improve my English ability, but my life as a university reporter was very attractive, so I decided to become a reporter. I really like meeting various people and writing articles about Departments of International Society. I also like knowing the news faster than other people and announcing the news to others. I think that I felt life became more active. In fact, my career with the Sookmyung Times was very helpful because at company interviews, my experience was appealing to interviewers. I wrote many articles on various subjects as Editor-in-Chief of the Sookmyung Times. Now, I can make judgments fast and I can write many feature articles and solo articles. While at the Sookmyung Times, I learned how to cover a case, how to approach a case, and so on.
SMT You majored in the Department of Chemistry at SMU. Generally, students who graduate from that major work as scientists or researchers, so why did you choose to become a reporter?
KWAK I really wanted to learn English at first. Also, our generation is the first generation granted freedom to travel abroad. Anyone who wants to travel can do so. I traveled to Europe. During the travel, I realized I wanted to live more globally. Frankly speaking, I loved and was good at English. Therefore, I just joined the Sookmyung Times without much thought other than to better my English, but there, I found my new aptitude and my dream. When I think back, I also loved writing essays, too.
SMT You studied journalism preparation at Myung-Un Jae, especially, preparatory classes for entering a press company. Many students who become journalists study there. How was life there?
KWAK Actually, I am the first class enrollee in Myung-Uhn Jae. When I was in third year, I was ready to start reporting. It was only when I was a fourth year student that Myung-Uhn Jae opened its doors. I was chosen class president, and I was I trained on various programs at Myung-Uhn Jae.
SMT While working at Dong-A ilbo and Channel A, what did you feel was the most important virtue of a reporter?
KWAK I think curiosity is essential to become a reporter. A reporter should politely interrogate others, even people who do not want to reply to the reporter’s questions. To reveal the truth and facts for people, a reporter must ask questions for public functions. Of course, reporters face hardships, but for society, it is necessary to ask pointed questions. If you don’t ask spontaneous questions, you’ll never become a good reporter. Also, you should write very well and be articulate. Especially, these days, reporters work as both newspaper reporters and broadcasting reporters, so these abilities are very important.
SMT Many reporters worry about making a balance between their reporter life and personal life. Especially, women reporters experience slump periods due to managing their marriage and raising children, and so on. Do you have any advice for students who want to become reporters?
KWAK I feel into a slump when someone got hurt because of my article. One day, a man who works in congress had to resign as election candidate because of my article. That really broke my heart, but I overcame my hurt because I knew the man was notorious for his political work. Society was going to be better because of me. Maternity and child- rearing are really difficult. Women reporters are hard pressed as their responsibilities increase. Women reporters should keep the mindset that having a job improves one’s quality of life. If women keep this thought, those problems will solve themselves.
SMT We’ve heard that you were recently promoted Director of Brand Strategy at Channel A in December 2013. How does this work differ from your life as a reporter?
KWAK A press consists of four departments. Our company is generally a media group, so our company is divided into newspaper reporting, broadcasting reporting, PD, and media business. I am in charge of promoting Channel A and beyond simple image promotions, I also build its brand strategy and work to fulfill that strategy. Mainly, I issue press releases, open a variety of events, and draw possible designs for our channel. To sum up, realizing a consistent brand identity is the most important objective of our team.
SMT Finally, what does SMU mean to you?
KWAK To me, SMU defined my destiny. At SMU, I was able to meet good people and it changed my life completely. Also, I was close to professors so they became my mentors. Because of the Sookmyung Times, I discovered I was made to be a reporter and went to study in Myung- Uhn Jae. I finally became a reporter. Therefore, I definitely think SMU helped me find my destiny.
Kwak Minyoung (KWAK)
•Graduated from the Department of Chemistry '98
•Received Ph.D. in Communications at SMU in 2011
•Worked for Segye ilbo, Dong-A ilbo and Channel A as a Reporter
•Now a Director of Brand Strategy team at Channel A