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22/09/2018 - 10:16

Meeting fellow friends

Warm and close - this was the feeling of our team throughout our work visit with colleagues in Korea during the last days of August.

Standing Vice President of Vietnam Press Association, Ho Quang Loi presenting a souvenir to President of Journalists’ Association of Korea, Jung Kyu Sung

The meeting room and the working floor of the Journalists’ Association of Korea occupy a very modest position in a building in central Seoul. There was just a welcome banner stretching across the bookcase, greetings, and warm handshakes, but we knew our colleagues were ready for the meeting.

It was an early autumn day. The wet raindrops on the umbrellas stored in plastic covers were ready prepared in the arrival hall. Suits and ties coupled with the smiles and the pats on the shoulders made everyone come closer. Actually, I felt the warm atmosphere when the president of the Journalists’ Association of Korea (JAK), Mr. Jung Kyu Sung, started speaking with a low voice: “Are you okay after the long flight? Was your lunch alright? I hope everyone is not too tired because your visit to our country has just only begun...”.

Honestly, I hid a little tiredness after 4 hours on the plane, a sleepless night and 8 hours for the leg of the first trip of the Vietnam Press Association delegation in Korea. In JAK's “headquarters”, we learned that there are 15 Standing Vice Presidents along with the President, the members of the Advisory Board, and the Inspection Committee and the Standing Committee. Former journalists, speech scholars and famous people belonging to its member system are also consulted. Founded in mid-August 1964, JAK now has more than 20,000 members working in the news agency and nearly 190 press and television agencies.

We recognized the common ground when the two sides shared about the financial and advertising pressure as well as the challenges of print journalism in the advancement of the multifaceted development of information forms in the digital age. We also shared similarities in our goals in terms of developing new media, protecting the rights and activities of the press agencies going hand in hand with prioritizing the improvement of professional ethics for the association members.

“I have been to Vietnam many times. Sunshine and delicious food were the things that I enjoyed. However, the most impressive thing for me is that Vietnam is changing day by day and it will become a developed country,” said Mr. Jung Kyu Sung.

Practicing at the Daegu social innovation entrepreneurship

That was also something that Mr. Hong Seong Pil - Editor-in-Chief and Director Woo Jong Soon - CEO of ASIA TODAY shared with the Vietnamese journalists in the afternoon meeting on the same day. The head office of this newspaper was located about 100 meters from the Yeouideabang-ro 67-gil line, and looked similar to a number of other Vietnamese press agencies, both in headquarters and in infrastructure and equipment.

What is special about ASIA TODAY is that despite its 13-year-old status, it is ranked as the fourth most popular online newspaper in Korea. Currently, there are 170 journalists with permanent residence in major cities not only in Asia. The paper is published in Korean, English and Chinese. The circulation of this newspaper is 50,000 sheets per day and about 500,000 hits on the electronic newspaper.

“ASIA TODAY places the reader on top and the information must be given in the fastest, most accurate way. Articles must be done in a spirit of patriotism, accuracy and usefulness to society,” said Editor-in-chief Hong Seong Pil. Maturing as a journalist and a pioneer for e-newspaper development alongside the printed newspaper, Mr. Hong Seong Pil aims to develop ASIA TODAY into the nation's largest mobile news platform, covering Asian and global news. 

I was impressed with ASIA TODAY’s spirit of everyone united to grow together. The leaders of the newspaper often have supporting programs and give gifts to employees with good performance. By working with ASIA TODAY, these things have reverberated back to the staff, and the reporters of the newspaper strive to become experts in their field. ASIA TODAY has also developed basing on such implicit competition from these professionals.

The pride of ASIA TODAY’s staff was apparent.  The appearance, speech and appreciation of the President and senior officials and readers in the short film, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the publication of the newspaper we were introduced that day somewhat showed this pride.

It was past noon, so the next day's work with DAEGU DAILY (the fourth largest province in South Korea) took place in a cozy space of a restaurant on a small slope (which, in Korea, buildings and houses on slopes seemed to be a special feature). While waiting for our colleagues, Standing Vice President of the Vietnam Journalists Association Ho Quang Loi and Editor-in-chief of the DAEGU DAILY - Mr. Ji Kook Kyeon had a friendly welcome and exchange from the first moment with the English abilities that they had. “Hello, fellow friends” the greeting and head bow of the Editor-in-chief of the Daegu newspaper and the president of the Daegu Journalists' Association when people came in had created a warm atmosphere.

The president of the Busan Journalists’ Association conducting a tour of the KBS office

Leading us around to visit KBS Busan's studio and professional sections was the young and beautiful Chairperson of the Journalists’ Association of the city. “Oh, being the chairperson is strenuous because of a lot of hard work, but I'm proud to be assigned and trusted with such a position,” she said when a member of our delegation asked.

Also, in the story that took place in the large building of KBS Busan, we were told that there are seven news agencies operating in Busan - the second largest city after Seoul but the largest port city in Korea. With a population of more than 3.5 million people, many national and international events are regularly held here.

The Vietnamese journalists enjoying a tea ceremony at the Museum of Ceramics

The interest in Korean businesses investing in Vietnam was one aspect of the discussions of the leaders of the Korean press agencies, and the leaders of the local authorities when talking to us. During the meeting, cooperation with the Vietnam Press Association and the signing with press associations in Vietnam were also set up. Speaking about this, Mr. Ho Quang Loi said that the Vietnam Press Association will be the bridge for the development and cooperation between the two sides in the future.

We stayed in Busan on the last day of the trip, and when we left for the airport to fly back to Hanoi, Mr. Kim Dong Ki, a member of the Journalists’ Association of Korea who accompanied us during our 7-day journey through 5 cities, still showed a gentle smile and constant thoughtfulness.

Vietnamese and Korean journalists taking a group photo at Yangdong folk village

When typing these lines, I remember the radiant, sincere expression of Mr. Ahn Buyng Chul - former President of the Journalists’ Association of Korea at a small restaurant when he came there for dinner. There was something, like the memory of Vietnam, of Hanoi that was awakened in this man. We were surprised when he said “Vietnamese and Koreans both have birthmarks in the lower back. We are not just similar, we are the same” ...

By Hoang Mai