|Atahualpa Amerise Fernandez, Agencia EFE correspondent|
Whether they are reporting in Spanish, French or English, most foreign correspondents working in South Korea rely on domestic English-language media outlets to stay informed on what is happening here.
The reason is obvious. It is simply too difficult to learn Korean, at least well enough to read Korean language papers. Many foreign correspondents rely on The Korea Herald and media outlets like it, such as the English language wire service that Yonhap News provides for Korean news and information.
“For being a non-English speaking country, we have a wide range of English information we can utilize,” said Atahualpa Amerise Fernandez, Agencia EFE’s correspondent in South Korea since November 2011.
“My impression is that the journalism of the English language media here is very good and the reporters are very professional. The issues they cover and their approach are good and interesting.”
Fernandez sat down with The Korea Herald to talk about the English language press in South Korea for The Herald’s 60th anniversary edition at a cafe in a recently gentrified corner of the Sindorim neighborhood in the historically industrial district of Guro.
“I think the writing quality of the English language media here is pretty good, although I am not a native speaker so maybe my comment is not that accurate,” he said. “On the other side, they rely too much on Yonhap News for breaking news stories, so their breaking news items are not timely enough.”
A typical day for Fernandez involves filing two to four stories on average, about 20 stories-plus a week. Agencia EFE a the major multimedia Spanish-language news agency and the world’s fourth largest wire service after the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.
“I know it is difficult though because they do not have the resources of the Korean language media, with a lot of people working on a single news item. Sometimes I regret that the English language media is not fast enough with the breaking news,” he said.
He said he read The Herald mostly online, normally going to the home page and clicking on the news that he find interesting. “I have to cover all kinds of news. The issues I usually have to focus on and thing I work in mostly is North Korea and politics. So the sections I go to most often on the Korea Herald’s home page involve international politics.”
Fernandez first came to South Korea to work in KBS World Radio’s Spanish language service and, after a 2 1/2 year stint with KBS, he moved over to Agencia EFE in 2011.
Fernandez said he relies on his contacts in government ministries and experts to stay informed as well as reports coming out of English-language media outlets but, since he cannot read Korean well enough to use Korean language news, his main sources for information are among the English language media.
By Philip Iglauer (firstname.lastname@example.org)