2018 World Journalist Forum and a Harmonious Korean Peninsula


World Journalist Forum members at Hwaseong Haenggung

In light of recent advancements in international relations with North Korea, the Journalists Association of Korea (JAK) hosted its annual World Journalists Conference from March 4th to 11th, 2018, in Seoul, South Korea, with the main theme revolving around the “Role of Journalists for Nuclear Disarmament of the Korean Peninsula”.

Across the span of 8 days, 70 journalists from around 50 countries were given a tour of Seoul, Gyunggi Province, Suwon City, Busan, North Gyeongsang Province, Jeju Island and Incheon—during which participant members would meet with the region’s Mayors and Deputy Mayors to discuss ideas on the relevance of a peaceful Korea in the 21st Century. Such was the intent of JAK, as it was noted by the organization’s President, Jung Kyu-sung, that “despite differences in country, gender, skin color, and ideology, we have one thing in common. It is that we are journalists who strive for freedom and peace by telling the truth with rationality and a warm heart.”

As the largest organization of professional reporters in Korea, JAK (1964) currently stands in cooperation with over 10,000 individual journalists working for Korea’s media companies, broadcasting services, internet news, and other agencies. And it was through this foundation foreign journalists from around the world met to engage in activities and meetings that would ask the hard questions of global security and development.

Highlights of the program included and introduction to both the cultural and technological attractions of South Korea such as Korea’s nationally treasured palaces and cutting-edge tech corporations. On Tuesday, March 6, reporters visited the Samsung Innovation Museum in Suwon to see the evolution of Korea’s tech-giant from its first steps as a company for home appliances to being a pioneer for a smarter Asia.


Participant members viewing a projected screen at Samsung Innovation Museum, Suwon

The next morning was spent in Sejong city, the nation’s central administrative city. In 2003, former President Noh Moo-hyun had thought to relieve Seoul of overpopulation by relocating key government facilities in Sejong, an area at the center of Korea and roughly a two-hour’s drive from other main cities. Journalists on this day inquired of the Mayor Lee Chun-hee of the specifics of Sejong and also whether he thought Kim Jong-un’s acceptance of North and South summit was sincere. To this, Mayor Lee replied, “The sincerity of Kim’s recent actions are not as paramount as to whether we as a united Korea can communicate efficiently to take advantage of the opportunities set before us,” adding, “I am very positive about the peace talks that will ensue.”


Reporters meeting with Sejong City Mayor, Lee Chun-hee

Another key event was at a Soju factory in Andong (capital of North Gyeongsang Province) known for its clean taste and purity of color. Journalists were delighted to see the process of rice fermentation and the dedication put into creating quality alcohol.

Near the end, reporters thought back on the purpose of the forum in relation to their own nations. Leo Nirosha Darshan, assistant news editor for Express Newspapers, Sri Lanka, noted, “As journalists with a vision for world development, this kind of conference is very important to world peace. Those of us from Sri Lanka are interested in the Korean peninsula because we also had experience with our own internal war and it has been 40 years since we began our diplomatic relations with South Korea. It is our sincere desire that peace be established on this land.”


And so, the 2018 World Journalist Forum began as a cultural exchange, but more importantly, it has extended its invitation to key members of the international press scene as a call to a more harmonious Korea and naturally thereafter, a harmonious world.


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