Media and Communications students visiting the KBS News Studio in Seoul, Korea

Communications students explore Korea and its media industry

1 May 2024
Immersive program abroad links students to Seoul’s media outlets
Each year a group of media students travel to Korea for seven days to connect with its culture and media landscape. Before the next generation of students takes flight, three of our recent graduates reflect on their experience.

Heralded as a hub for technological innovation, South Korea is one of the world’s most digitally connected nations and possesses an equally well-developed media industry driven by competition and diversification.

Since 2014, several accomplished undergraduate Media and Communications students have crossed over to Korea to study its media landscape with exclusive access to leading news outlets.

Funded by the Korea Foundation, this cultural immersion scholarship arranged by the Korean Australian Community Support Incorporation (KACS) engages Australian students with the country, culture and Korea's media industry which operates in the world's tenth largest economy.

As described by Kate Newsome, a recent Media and Communications graduate, the unique scholarship offered "a whirlwind ride of uncompromised access to the newsrooms and minds of some of the country’s leading intellects, diplomats, and journalists."

Based in the heart of Seoul, the program kicked off with a 'cultural day' to uncover Korea’s history and traditions, and to relish the local cuisine. The students roamed the city, visiting iconic landmarks such as Gyeongbokgung Palace, the National Folk Museum, the Bukchon Hanok Village, and the N Seoul Tower.

The city brought together all of my favourite things: performance, music, dance and fashion. As a young creative, Korea is bursting with inspiration.
Sophie Harper, Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Advanced Studies (Media and Communications)

The Korea Press Foundation launched the industry-focused program's component with an overview of South Korean media landscape. The itinerary took students behind the scenes of numerous organisations in the 'Media City' district including the broadcasting behemoth KBS, pay TV network JTBC, Yonhap News TV, and the Korea Times to name a few.

"Each institution represented different sides of Korea’s political spectrum and various types of media production, from print to online media," said Kate Newsome.

We were immensely lucky in the breadth and number of media organisations we were able to visit - an opportunity we would never be granted back home.
Sophie Harper

Our students gained an in-depth understanding of the industry’s challenges and complexities in meetings with journalists, producers, publicists, and lawyers.

The program illustrated the similarities and differences between Australian and Korean media, allowing students to gain insight into what they might be able to take into their careers.

From chief writers, journalists and producers to managers, chairs and presidents of their organisations, we were very privileged to be given the opportunity to meet with these professionals.
Sophie Harper

In the previous excursions to Korea, students were accompanied by KACS Chairman, William Seung OAM, board members Jason Koh and Steve Choi, as well as Adriana Hernandez, Undergraduate Internship Officer.

They ensured that the students enjoyed a truly unique program that facilitated meetings with Korean industry professionals and access to the nation’s leading media outlets.

A trip to the demilitarised zone between the closed border of North and South Korea was a striking highlight for many students. Our students had the rare opportunity to take a glimpse over the 38th parallel and to inspect the border’s incomplete Third Tunnel of Aggression that runs 73 metres underground. They also visited Yonhap News Agency’s North Korea news monitoring room featuring exclusive 24-hour access to North Korean TV and radio.

It was chilling to see how deep the scars run from the Korean War and remarkable to hear from the reporters dedicated to understanding the hermit kingdom.
Kate Newsome

Through lectures hosted at Yulchon LLC and Yonsei University, and conversations with Dr Alexandra Siddall, Deputy Head of Mission and Minister at the Australian Embassy, the students gained an in-depth knowledge on Korea’s challenges and successes.

Students observed that South Koreans were hardly devoting any airtime or brain space to the Democratic Republic of Korea.

The program instilled a broader worldview, encouraging students to be more understanding and ambitious when covering news in their future careers.

The visit to Korea lasted seven days, yet it created memories our graduates will continue to cherish.

Wholeheartedly we thank KACS and the Korea Foundation for their unwavering efforts to create an outstanding once-in-a-lifetime experience for our media students.

While the Korean Wave has pulled our countries closer together, our shared stories and humanity are hardly a passing phase. As well as better comprehending the intersections between Korea and Australia’s media and political landscapes, the personal impact of this in-country study tour is insurmountable.
Kate Newsome

This article has been based on contributions by our graduates Kate Newsome, Sophie Harper, and Juliet Rayner. Banner photo provided by Kate Newsome.

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