Choosing Korea

More than anything other experience, I credit my time overseas in during my high school years as the motivator for pursuing a career in journalism. Traveling to Caracas, Venezuela and Qingdao, China allowed me to hear stories of teens my age that transcended country and language barriers.

In 2005, I had a 5-hour layover at Incheon International Airport in South Korea, the one thing that stands out to me, besides the fact that no one likes to be in an airport that long, is the fear that my mother and aunts had over me traveling to Korea. Months prior to my trip, North Korea fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan and extracted fuel rods from Yongbyon. Basically, we were all scared, and the word “Korea” in reference to traveling wasn’t the friendliest.

The thing I regret back then was not investigating further once I learned it was South Korea that I would be traveling into, the more “safe” one. Now as an adult, I get the opportunity to learn that community through my final semester at Columbia College Chicago. I will be spending time and reporting on Korean issues from the self-described “Koreantown” in Albany Park. My bureau will be based in Beijing, China and cover both Northern and Southern Korean immigrants.

A very brief history:  In 1950,  South Korea declared independence from The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, commonly referred to as “North Korea.” This leads to a North Korean invasion which begins the Korean War.  Three years and about two million lives later, an armistice ended the war, but not the tensions between the two countries. Now decades later, the two countries are still in disagreement-mostly over politically ideas and practices. Read More about the countries. North Korea,South Korea.

Follow Journalists on the beat:

Los Angeles Times: Barbara Demick, bureau chief in Beijing, China

Associated Press: Korea Bureau Chief Jean Lee

BBC- Lucy Williamson, Correspondent in Seoul, South Korea

CBS News- Seth Doane, Seth Doane

Reuters- James Pearson ‏

Chicago Connections

Korean American Association of Chicago

Korean American Women’s Association

Korean American Chamber of Commerce

Consulate General of the Republic of Korea

Interesting Stories on the beat:

Top Officials Call on North Korea to cooporate with UN Atomic agency

Kenneth Bae

U.S. Officials Call for Denuclearization of  North Korea

North Korea and its Syrian Connection

North Korea tries to ship gas to Syria

North Korea and South Korea to reopen Military Hotline

Silent Leader at Military Parade

Story Ideas:

1. In talking with a source, I was told immigration reform is a big issue within the Korean Community. The source said  it is becoming difficult to apply for citizenship and that various  visas have to be applied for in order to stay in the United States making the process longer and more expensive.

2. Businesses in “Koreantown”.  There seems has been a dramatic decline in businesses as a large population of Koreans are moving into the suburbs. I’d like to write what this means for the future of Albany Park, and other areas with a high number of Korean residents.

3. North Korean-South Korean relationship has been sour for quite some time politically, I’d like to find out what that means for its people. Specifically, immigrants in the United States, has been here eased some of that tension.


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