I have never fancied myself much a writer when it comes to many of the contributions that I have made for The Korea Times the past five years. It’s all been pretty accidental–being in the right place at the right time I guess.
When I started writing feature articles for The Korea Times in the summer of 2000 (after two years of writing essays for the paper’s “Thoughts of the Times” column) I was able to take advantage of the commemoration events for the 50th anniversary of the Korean War. I got my foot in the door as it were by first writing some book reviews in addition to my occasional “Thoughts of the Times” contribution.
Looking back, I guess I must have been pretty lucky. I was the only reporter for the two English-language newspapers covering these commemorative events and the only book reviewer. However, I didn’t know what I was doing at times though and didn’t think that I was a good writer. It was just something that I enjoyed doing. I wasn’t even sure if many people were even reading what I was writing. I have often thought that if I was a good writer, maybe I would have gotten more responses from readers. At the same time, I have also wondered if I was reaching the right audience.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed writing those first “feature” articles for the newspaper and many of the interviews that I had with some very prominent people. I was also fortunate that the newspaper gave me a lot of freedom when it came to many of the articles that I would write.
If I had more time, I know that I could have done a better job writing many of the feature articles. More often than not, when it came to writing most of the articles I did for the newspaper, I had just enough time to make a deadline. Sadly, I know that many of my articles might have read better if a copy editor at the newspaper would have looked at them more closely.
Looking back, I just tried to do the best that I could. It was an honor to attend many of the Korean War commemorative events and meet many of the veterans. I’ll never forget how I managed to talk my way into the main commemorative event held outside the War Memorial Museum in Seoul on June 25, 2000. A few weeks before I had interviewed Korean War hero Gen. Paik Yun-sop for a book review of his autobiography. After the interview, some of his staff assured me that I would be able to get in to the event and I gave them my personal information.
Prior to this event I had written two feature articles: one about a trip to the Iron Triangle and an interview with Dr. Horace Underwood, grandson of the founder of Yonsei University in Seoul. Underwood was one of the interpreters (along with his brother Richard) at Panmunjom during the armistice talks.