Bridging role to remain valuable for decades to come
Published : 2013-08-13 20:22
Updated : 2013-08-13 20:22
On Aug. 15, 1953, Koreans marked the eighth anniversary of their liberation from Japan’s colonial rule in the ashes of a just-ended fratricidal war. Enduring hardships and privations in the days following the three-year conflict, they were never overwhelmed by their colossal mishap and kept the aspiration and determination to build a secure and prosperous modern nation.
It was on that day under this atmosphere that The Korean Republic, which was renamed The Korea Herald a dozen years later, was launched as an English-language daily to play a bridging role between the nation and the outside world. What enabled the four-member editorial staff and a few other compositors to publish the four-page inaugural edition was passion and devotion to what should be done for the country. They once had to go the extra mile shortly before the publication deadline as a cart carrying galleys to a nearby printing house fell into one of the pitfalls that dotted the streets in Seoul at the time, damaging the typesetting.
Where we stand
The episode only served to reinforce the commitment and sincerity our inaugural staff had toward their mission, which was articulated in a statement run on the paper’s first issue under the title “Where We Stand.” They made it the daily’s fundamental purpose to serve as a reliable source of world news for Korean readers and of Korean news for foreigners both in the country and abroad. They pledged to stand for the reunification of Korea under the democratic government in the South, the welfare and security of the nation and the restoration of stability across the world.
As instruments for achieving these goals, they put forward the principle that has since served as an unchanging guidance for us ― aiming for accuracy, reliability and comprehensiveness in covering news.
Over the past six decades, the daily has witnessed and recorded the miraculous process of the nation having achieved industrialization and democracy from the ruins of the Korean War. South Korea has become the seventh country with a population of more than 50 million whose per capita income exceeds $20,000. Its trade volume has also surpassed $1 trillion, a record previously obtained by only eight other nations. Over the period since the war ended in an armistice, South Korea’s economic growth rate ― though it has slowed down in recent years ― surpassed those for all the countries that sent troops to fight alongside it against the Chinese-backed North Korean forces, according to figures released by the Federation of Korean Industries last month.
This remarkable accomplishment was also illustrated by the contrast between many articles on grants from foreign governments, run in this paper in its early years, and our recent string of editorials calling for increasing Seoul’s official development aid to fit its status in the global community. It is no exaggeration for U.S. President Barack Obama to have declared during the ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War in Washington on July 27 that its armistice was “no tie,” but “a victory” for South Korea.
Keeping track of the rocky course the country has followed to emerge as a major global power, The Korea Herald has grown into the nation’s No. 1 English-language daily with the largest circulation and roles to set the industry standards. Launched at the initiative of the government, the paper has seen changes of its ownership from a state-funded corporation to an association of traders in 1978 and to a string of private proprietors since the late 1980s.
It would be an exaggeration to say that we have done fully and completely what we were supposed to do in this era. We should have done more and have yet to do more. Knowing that we are indebted to our readers for whatever we have achieved, we will continue to move forward to reach where we should be.
Under the current ownership set up a decade ago, the paper, along with its sister vernacular daily, The Herald Business, has made relatively effective efforts to be refitted for a digital age and provide a more diversified range of content. Such endeavor will go on to meet various needs and expectations from our readers.
The Korea Herald marks its 60th anniversary especially with a renewed sense of mission to be part of the nation’s efforts to secure a prosperous future for its people and make more contributions to the global community.
Where we should be
Contemporary Koreans are tasked with the historic duty of reconciling the decades-long antagonism between conservatives credited for the country’s economic ascent and liberals proud of their struggle for democracy. Their persisted animosity has often paralyzed parliamentary functions, caused unnecessary economic and social costs and hampered a concerted approach toward the repressive regime in Pyongyang. Going through hard times cannot be an excuse for neglecting the work to lay the foundation for national reunification.
As a nation we should move beyond the paradigm of industrialization and democracy, leaving outdated conflicts and maximizing our potential. Sophisticated and concrete plans are needed to revitalize the passion and endeavor of the Korean people by setting up goals and creating values that could bond them together.
What is also required of South Koreans is a liberal and inclusive global outlook. They need to enhance their image in the global village as benevolent, courteous, honest, rational, sincere and trustworthy. Building a nation commanding respect from people around the world may be what should ultimately be built on the legacy of the war.
In the process of further advancing the nation, our bridging role between Korea and the world will remain invariably precious for the decades to come. Pledging to do our best to carry out the valuable part, we now remind ourselves again of the values our inaugural staff held up ― accurate, reliable and comprehensive news coverage that provides useful information and, hopefully, insight.