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Layered like an onion?Reconciling The Jeju Weekly’s goals and needs
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승인 2010.10.01  10:32:40
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Recently there were two heartwarming stories about donations to Jeju National University which made headlines in the local newspaper.

Firstly, Kim Chang In, an 81-year-old Jeju-born businessman who is well known to local residents for his success story in Japan, made a significant donation to the university in September this year. His generous attitude toward his home province has been shown in many ways since 2008.

Secondly Fred Dustin, the Kimnyoung Maze Park owner, now 80, dropped in to his former employer, Jeju National University on Sept. 16, to donate funds to help foreign nationals at the university. His contribution has continued every year since 2003 and this year it will benefit primarily those students who come from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other less developed countries. He has also given support to local groups in the neighboring village of Gimnyeong where recipients of Fred’s largesse include the Gimnyeong elementary and middle schools, and the village senior schools.

Last Saturday I had lunch with him at Shara’s Garden in Jocheon-eup, Jeju City, where he said he was thankful for the opportunities the island has given him over the past five decades. “It’s a small thing, but I am happy to give something back to the communities in which I live and work.”

“I hope the foreign students leave with good memories,” continued Dustin when asked about the reasons behind his donations. I immediately thought of the Forest E. Witcraft saying: “A hundred years from now, it will not matter what kind of car you drove, or what sort of house you lived in, or how big your bank account was. But the world may be better because you were important in the life of a child.”

Indeed, Jeju Island will be a much better place because the gifts of these philanthropists will have an impact far beyond their current value. Their work also prompted me to think of what impact The Jeju Weekly will have on this beautiful island 10 years from now, even a hundred years from now, and in which direction this paper should proceed to pursue a similar goal.

What better a goal for The Jeju Weekly than to help foreigners leave the island with good memories?

As a publisher, I have to admit that, for the past year-and-a-half, I have been preoccupied with the intense pressure brought on by the need that this newspaper should “look better” issue by issue. This is exacerbated by the fact that the newspaper needs to cater to all readers, both home and abroad, despite multiple layers of limitations, such as a shortage of professional journalists and resources needed to produce this bi-weekly newspaper.

Sometimes this pressure transfers to our staff, forcing them to “push the envelope” or feel tremendous strain, for which I feel truly sorry. Yet, despite such circumstances, all The Jeju Weekly staff and freelance writers have made great strides. Thank you all indeed!

To avoid changing too many things in too short a time, I am trying to learn to say — “OK, it is enough for me this time,” which helps me enjoy what I am doing now. Yet enjoying what I’m doing now will never be possible without accomplishing the goal I initially set for the paper — to serve as a window through which foreigners see Jeju Island and help make the island more foreigner friendly. Of course, there are times when I feel forced into a corner by the irony that focusing on revealing hidden Jeju might gloss over major concerns and problems which need to be addressed properly among foreigners. This conundrum certainly needs to be tackled by The Jeju Weekly.

Still, exploring Jeju is like peeling the layers of an onion for me. So is producing this English newspaper in the Korean context; tears and awe, disappointment and encouragement, and backlash and reward. But, when we peel an onion, the bigger and juicier it is, the more often we might shed tears and experience the need to regain our determination. While it may seem long, tiresome and sometimes daunting, each layer brings us closer to the center, the goal this paper aims to ultimately reach.

How to get the stories of the two donors more widely heard? Certainly, it is the next layer of story planning for The Jeju Weekly. I hope we fulfil this goal without stopping to wipe our eyes.

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