Having secured an internship at tbs Radio from the incredibly generous funding body of the Australia–Korea Foundation back in November 2013, the opportunity to work, eat, drink, sleep, and live in Seoul has long felt like a mirage. The furthest I have ever travelled for an internship prior to this is the 30-minute bus and train trip from Ashfield to Moore Park, so the thought of venturing into the Northern Hemisphere for one was unfathomable. But as I sit here in a hostel in Tokyo, Japan — a brief sojourn before the internship takes place — I can see that Seoul is no longer a chimera — it is real!
The dazzling lights of Shibuya, Tokyo. Photo by Brendan Day
I have never visited Seoul before so I have been extensively researching it as well as the Republic of Korea as a whole. With a map of Seoul and a Lonely Planet guide, I have two valuable resources for navigating the chaos of this crowded city. I also have downloaded the Google Translate app onto my phone, a welcome recommendation from immediate past tbs Fellow Robert North). It appears that the Republic of Korea is a place of both new and old practices. It has a rich culture with strong emphasis on traditions, while also possessing a tech-savvy younger population that has embraced the advances in information technology. It will be interesting to see the confluence of these factors in Seoul — maybe I'll get a chance to Skype from one of the famed Three Jewel Temples of Korea.
With regards to my preparation for working at tbs, I have been following the lead of previous Korea-based Fellows. I have been in contact with Robert North, Stephanie Chalmers and Hamish Boland-Rudder, and the Parallax blogging system (on which this blog is hosted) has proved to be an invaluable source of information as well. To prepare myself for the internship I have been streaming some of the shows on tbs. This Morning with Alex Jensen, the show I will be working on, provides an informed view of news and current affairs, its debonair English host skillfully interviewing experts from a wide swathe of areas. 1013 Mainstreet is a great resource for tourists like myself, with its focus on educating and informing expatriates about Seoul's current events. The Steve Heatherly Show, hosted by the eponymous, deep-voiced Canadian, is a program I have also come to appreciate for its entertaining combination of news and games. tbs eFM is a relatively new station, having only started broadcasting in 2008, but its self-proclaimed position as “Korea’s No.1 Foreign Language Station” demonstrates that I’ll be in capable hands.
As far as my prior radio experience goes, I have hosted various shows on SURG FM, Sydney University’s radio station, since 2011. The Radio Broadcasting subject undertaken as part of my Media and Communications degree was an invaluable guide to producing good content, but I am yet to feel the pressure of producing pieces to a set of expectations given by someone other than myself. Of course, I welcome this challenge rather than shirk from it, and look forward with great anticipation to creating work that will truthfully represent the sides of Seoul that capture my interest.