"Think about Haiti," he said. "If that kind of large-scale disaster happens, reporters might not be prepared for those circumstances without tough training."That tough training, the article says, includes extreme binge drinking, and domineering seniors, and long stretches without sleep:
The young college graduate acknowledges that she has a job with pretty demanding hours -- like 3:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m.I found this via Monster Island, who makes a good point in his post:
Sometimes, to get any shut-eye at all, she shares a bed with a bunch of other trainees. Then there's the minder who rules her every moment, even in the shower, not to mention the marathon drinking sessions to get her in fighting shape.
At 23, she's a cub reporter slogging her way through a grueling round-the-clock journalism training program that often plays out more like a college fraternity hazing. It's a sink-or-swim test of willpower and stamina designed to prepare young wire service, newspaper and television writers for survival in South Korea's no-holds-barred news culture.
Just like so many other industries in Korea, this one requires camel-going-through-a-needle effort to get in, and this fosters a sense of entitlement among some of those who succeed. It also can lead to resentment against those who did not get there based on their own hard work, wits, sweat, and sleep deprivation (e.g., privileged kids or Westerners, depending on the industry).I've run into a few Westerners who work in Korean media, in various capacities, but I never heard any talk about facing resentment for not going through this initiation. The language barrier ensures that foreign reporters are kept off that track anyway, and because Korea's English-language media is run by and aimed at Koreans, foreign reporters are generally kept out of the thick of things.
I wonder what's makes "South Korea's no-holds-barred news culture" unique, or if it's more accurate to say this hazing has less to do with news culture and more to do with Korean culture. Confucius preached the importance of ceremony, and people who have spent time in the very Neo-Confucian South Korea will have noticed the legacy. Having worked in Korean schools I've seen the ceremonies to welcome new teachers, to see off old ones, and to mark the beginning and end of semesters. Hell, not even an intramural volleyball game can begin without saluting the flag and hearing a speech from the principal. And there's ritualized binge drinking to accompanies all of that. The significance of ceremony and ritual is reinforced, I'd argue, by the militarization that seeps into many aspects of Korean culture (military service is mandatory for Korean men, after all) which dovetails nicely with Neo-Confucianism in that order and a senior-junior relationship are of utmost importance.
One civilian institution where we see the influence of militarism is the school, and indeed the reason I thought of ceremony as soon as I saw this LA Times piece is because I just read about "graduation ceremonies gone wild" that not only marked the occassion but included pain, suffering, and bullying that unfortunately don't seem out of place in Korean schools:
Over the weekend, the internet community was shaken when naked photos of some 40 teenagers surfaced. Young boys and girls, all naked, were pictured piling up in a human pyramid and other forms of physical group punishment.Some basic Googling on the topic of Korean cub reporter training turned up nothing else, so I'm glad Glionna introduced us to the topic. I'd like to see more analysis into why Korean outlets are going to such extremes---it's not as if Koreans are the only reporters with tough schedules---and how that's connected to not only the importance of ceremony here, but also to the tendency for these ceremonies to get carried away.
The occasion turned out to be a "graduation wrap-up party" in a middle school in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province, led by some 20 high school seniors who threatened their victims verbally and physically.
The blackmail and violence was not just a one-off event, but have occurred over the past few years and have become increasingly violent, according to the victims. The seniors also used to frequently extort them of their money.