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The Korea Daily: A New Awareness

NCM Profile

NCM, Sandip Roy and Julie Johnson Posted: Aug 28, 2003

In the heart of Los Angeles Koreatown, Young Park, editor of the Korea Daily, remembers when many of their advertisers were literally burned down in the 1992 L.A. riots. We didnt have to worryone year later Korean businesses went back up, says Park.

In two decades with the paper, Park has seen his readers change. When I first came to the company, our readership was just immigrants, he explains. The paper had some anxious momentsas South Koreas economy went through the roof, The Korea Daily worried about its future. We were afraid not many people would come anymore. And people here would just go back as well. We are not like the Vietnamese, who do not want to go back for political reasons.

Despite the economic ups and downs, Koreans are still coming to the United States. An unprecedented number of them are tourists, students and business travelers. The Korea Daily exudes prosperitythe original staff of 10 has increased 20 times; and its 12 pages have ballooned to 130, many of them coming directly from Seoul, though there is also a sizable Los Angeles section. The circulation is up to 70,000 in southern California, and the website (www.joongangusa.com) draws readers from around the world.

Even as he marvels at his papers growth, Park sometimes misses the early days. At that time we were like a family, he says. Now we are just like a corporation. Lee remembers that in the early days of L.A.s Koreatown there were three or four major papers in fierce competition. Now, with papers like The Korea Times and The Korea Daily in the driver's seat, and giant corporations providing the financial backing, some of that early, colorful ethos of penny journalism has been replaced by a corporate polish that is less individualistic.

Park sometimes regrets the role he plays now compared with the role many journalists play in Korea. In the days of severe censorship and harassment, during President Park Jung Hees era in the 70s, journalists commanded tremendous public respect. In Korea, journalists are leaders and opinion-makers, says Park. Here my job is to provide information to immigrants on how America works.

The Korea Daily offices are a testament to that. Stickers saying God Bless America abound on doors and in cubicles. In a room upstairs people take painting classes or learn computer skills. Park points to the painting class, the busy editorial room, the community rooms and sums it up. Its community service, he says.

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