With the New Year comes a new online newspaper – Jeju World Wide: a paper that is dedicated to providing residents and visitors a better understanding of life on Jeju Island and in mainland Korea.
For many foreigners living on Jeju, keeping abreast of current events on the island is no easy task. The main English-language newspapers: Korea Times, Korea Herald and the JoongAng Ilbo are all based in Seoul and thus most of their interest lies with the mainland – particularly Seoul. The few articles that they do publish are from an outsider’s point of view.
But Jeju World Wide is different. Based on Jeju Island, it is more attuned to the local issues that residents are concerned about. For those readers on the mainland and foreign visitors, it provides current information about Jeju that cannot so readily be found in other publications. Event information – such as music, plays, art exhibits, markets, festivals and others, will, of course, be provided. But, unlike other publications, news that the Korean media is talking about will also be covered: news that we, the readers, want to know.
Starting a newspaper – even an online one – in Korea is no easy matter. Korea’s first English-language newspaper, The Independent, began operations on April 7, 1896. The staff consisted of nine men and utilized a small hand-press to print 200 copies of the four-page paper per hour. Residents in Seoul could buy their copies from the young newsboys who roamed the streets while those readers in the interior had to wait several days for their copies to arrive by steamship or mail carriers. But things are no longer as primitive. Jeju World Wide is at the forefront of the technology curve and utilizes the Internet so that the information is available to you immediately and will keep you more up-to-date on the news occurring on the island as well as the mainland.
The Independent’s success was due not only to its uniqueness but also to its willingness to interact with its readership. In the same manner, Jeju World Wide wants to interact with its readers – both those on and off the island. Readers are encouraged to inform Jeju World Wide of events that they are taking part in or organizing. Perhaps even more important, readers are also encouraged to share their own experiences through the contribution of stories and photographs. Unlike many media outlets, Jeju World Wide embraces social networking and will utilize it to help its readership keep their friends and family informed of events in Korea.
Visitors to the island are growing in number every year. While the most commonly visited tourist sites are described in the various pamphlets and guides, they are done so briefly and often lack the back stories that readers find so interesting. Jeju World Wide will augment these descriptions with its own articles that visitors and residents will find informative as well as interesting. Lesser-known and off-the-beaten-path historical and points of interests will also be revealed to the readers, providing them with an opportunity to get to know the island better.
Just as important as tourist sites are places to eat and shop. It is always a dilemma for travelers to find some place off the beaten track that is popular with the locals. Jeju World Wide hopes to solve that problem; not only through its advertisements but also the reviews given by you – the readers.
With the coming of the New Year is the hope of improvement. Jeju World Wide is one of those improvements – a means to introduce the world to Jeju Island.
Robert Neff is a Seoul-based historian.