Extra! Korea

October 14, 2010

Holy crap! A Korean newspaper printed a correction and apology!

Filed under: (lack of) journalistic integrity, education, expatriates — extrakorea @ 7:02 am

You might recall that Brian (formerly) in Jeollanam-do and Gusts of Popular Feeling wrote posts about the wildly divergent statistics cited by Korean newspapers when describing the number of native English teachers in Korea who quit. Since some of them contradicted each other, some were clearly inaccurate.

If you don’t live in Korea, you might be unaware of the fact that Korean newspapers, unlike their western counterparts, never print retractions even when they are clearly wrong. At least, they didn’t, until I read something in the Hankyoreh that knocked me out of my seat and onto my back.

The Hankyoreh English Online Edition published a News Briefing entitled “Over half of native English teachers quit job after six months, Education Ministry says” on Sept. 30.

Due to both a misinterpretation of the both data and source of the report, the article erroneously stated that up to 66 percent of native English teachers in public schools, while the number of teachers quitting is in fact less than 5 percent.

[ snip ]

We would like to issue an apology for our mistake and our late correction, and look forward to more active responses, comments and participation of readers of the Hankyoreh’s English Online Edition.

Wow. I mean, wow. I guess Brian, Gusts o’ Feelings, and the Hankyoreh all deserve standing ovations.

Kang Shin-who, who’s the man now?


  1. Cool. Maybe someone there actually reads these blogs.

    Comment by kushibo — October 14, 2010 @ 7:34 am

  2. ATEK was in touch with the Hankyoreh about this article, and the reporter who reached out to us seemed quite concerned with getting the story right, once it became obvious that there were sharp discrepancies in the reported statistics.

    Meanwhile, to be honest, your “Holy Crap!” title and the tone of this article, acting as amazed at a correction in a newspaper as if Koreans had just discovered fire, is a disservice to those people in the Korean media who DO care about their journalistic integrity, and makes you sound petty.

    Comment by Roboseyo — October 15, 2010 @ 2:26 am

    • Meanwhile, to be honest, your “Holy Crap!” title and the tone of this article, acting as amazed at a correction in a newspaper as if Koreans had just discovered fire, is a disservice to those people in the Korean media who DO care about their journalistic integrity, and makes you sound petty.

      In his post on the subject, Gusts of Popular Feelings states that he, like I, can’t remember a Korean newspaper ever printing a correction, and he’s a virtual library of facts about Korea. Like me, he’s been in Korea for a long time. Remember how the misrepresentations by PD Diary (a.k.a. PD Notebook) inspired riots that caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage to public property and brought the downtown area to a standstill? Did they ever own up to what they did? Well, they did give a half-hearted apology only when the government took legal action against them and forced them to. By the way, how many people in Korea have died from mad cow disease. Oh, that’s right, none. And that’s but one example.

      “As if Koreans had just discovered fire”? I never said that Korean journalists are stupid, but they often don’t do what they ethically should, such a printing corrections when they are clearly factually wrong. I’m sure that there are plenty of Korean journalists with integrity, but there is obviously a culture in Korean journalism which does not stress proper fact-finding stringently enough (or doesn’t punish inadequate fact-finding enough), and prefers the saving of face over honestly admitting to their errors. Don’t you know that old adage, “To err is human, to forgive divine”?

      Journalists should be held up to a higher standard because they influence society and are role models for many, in the same way that teachers are held up to higher standards for similar reasons. When a journalist is irresponsible or dishonest, it’s not the same as when a window washer is irresponsible or dishonest (not that washing windows isn’t an honourable profession in its own right).

      “Petty”? Did you notice the part where I said that the Hankyoreh deserves a standing ovation? And how I contrasted their upstanding actions with the shady ones of Kang Shin-who? If praising the Hankyoreh for doing the right thing and taking people like Kang Shin-who to task for their irresponsible behavior is “petty,” then I’m petty and proud to be.

      Comment by extrakorea — October 15, 2010 @ 7:43 am

  3. Great work once again by GoPF for getting the numbers out there. His post informed the ATEK release.

    The “Holy crap! A Korean newspaper . . .” might, as Rob says, be insulting, but we might note that the Herald, JoongAng Daily, Yonhap, or Korean-language outlets printed a retraction.

    Comment by Brian — October 15, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  4. Here’s hoping this is merely the first of many.

    Comment by Chris in South Korea — October 17, 2010 @ 4:45 pm

    • Amen.

      Comment by extrakorea — October 26, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  5. You’re right, EK. I was overly harsh in my comment, and I agree with the points you make: the other papers have made no such retraction, and the Hankyoreh does deserve a standing ovation.

    I also hope this is a sign of things to come, in terms of more accountability and integrity from Korean media outlets. The “as if Koreans had just discovered fire” thing was definitely a bridge too far, and I apologize.

    Comment by Roboseyo — October 26, 2010 @ 8:47 am

    • Thanks, Rob. Kudos to ATEK. Perhaps they could use the Hankyoreh’s apology/correction to shame the other papers into doing the same.

      Comment by extrakorea — October 26, 2010 @ 2:30 pm

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