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Korean native rolls out bible of Korean English journalism

All Headlines 13:54 April 05, 2016

By Chung Joo-won

SEOUL, April 5 (Yonhap) -- "Know your readers," says Shin Ho-chul, a Korean-born English journalist and the former writing coach for English news at Yonhap News Agency, in his latest publication on English journalism.

For Shin, with 50 years of experience in English journalism under his belt, he believes, "The most pressing mission of Korean English journalism begins with understanding the readers."

If not, he says, the article is doomed to be bound to the perspective of a Korean native, which can seem uninteresting or even unnecessary to the foreign readers.

The former journalist of the Associated Press and United Press International made it clear that English proficiency and English journalism are two different universes.

"It is not easy to produce an English article that intrigues native speakers," the former chairman of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club writes in his bible on Korean English journalism.

"How to Write an English News Article" came freshly out of the print house on Tuesday, as a guidebook for incumbent and prospective Korean English journalists.

The book details the elements of English journalism, including the typical formats, body building, lead structuring and quotes, on top of an overview of the local English news market and helpful tips on style.

The cream of this book is apparently the rich bulk of example passages -- all from real stories by Yonhap News Agency news reporters -- and the frequently misused phrases and words in English articles by a Korean native.

In the book, Shin contends that there are widely believed prejudices among news reporters. According to the writing coach, there are times when the passive voice can deliver the meaning of the sentence with greater impact than active voice can, which may surprise many young Korean reporters of English news.

The former journalist even covers how to cite swear words in quotes and key points for advance stories -- completed before the covered event and released when they start -- with vivid examples.

Regarding the job market for English journalism in South Korea, Shin considered the occupation to be "a privilege for Koreans (who seek to be journalists)" because it is an area that "doesn't have competition from native English speakers because they cannot speak Korean."

"If you have uncontested passion for this job, there is every reason to go for it," he said.

Shin entered the field of English journalism in 1965 as a journalist at UPI and later worked at the AP until he retired from news reporting in 2003. He served as the writing coach for English news reporters at Yonhap until 2015.

Shin's book publication ceremony is slated to take place in the Seoul Foreign Correspondents' Club in the Korea Press Center in central Seoul on April 15.

jwc@yna.co.kr
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