Though This Morning is a news and current affairs show and will sometimes incorporate updates regarding unfolding events, each show is carefully planned out by the day before — at latest. Guests are booked, packages are locked in, and news segments are defined in length. After three weeks at tbs I had become used to the routine, but wondered what would happen in the event of a massive news story. Would the show’s structure be completely thrown out the window, or would regular updates simply be squeezed in wherever there was an opening?
On Friday I found out that the truth lies somewhere in between.
An umbrella art installation in City Hall Station. Photo by Brendan Day
I woke Friday morning to the terrible news that a Malaysian Airlines plane, MH17, had been shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew members on board. At 6 am my producer, Christina, called me to say that the day’s show needed to be overhauled, and quickly! A pre-recorded interview about the Farnborough International Airshow was replaced out of consideration of the matter at hand, as was another scheduled interview. Instead, I was put in charge of sourcing experts in the fields of aviation and international relations, as they would help to provide some context for what was a still-developing story. While Kyungmi, one of the show’s writers, called various academics from around the world, I worked on developing lines of questioning for our prospective guests. When we went to air at 7:05 am, there were three interview segments with no confirmed guests and just a few hastily scribbled questions. Thankfully we were able to secure three interview subjects quickly, including a very helpful professor from the Czech Republic, where the local time was past 1 am when he went on-air. As the show progressed, I continued to research the story and relayed my findings to Alex, and things went surprisingly smoothly. Christina thanked us afterwards by treating us to morning tea, as the helter skelter nature of that morning’s show hadn’t occurred since the Sewol ferry disaster back in April. The experience of having to reformat an entire show as it was happening was an invaluable one, especially given the increasing speed at which news events are processed and delivered now.
This upcoming week promises to be my most busy, with the potential for three separate packages to be completed and then aired. I am currently working on one about Australians in Korea, an area of interest that has been piqued not only by personal experience, but by various people involved with the Australia–Korea Foundation. I initially pitched it as an analysis of the developing bilateral relations between our countries, but Christina wisely suggested restricting it to its current focus due to tbs’s location and audience. I am also working on a package reflecting on the aforementioned Sewol ferry disaster. It should be broadcast on Wednesday, and will be a precursor to Thursday’s special Sewol-centred show, chosen because that will be the 100-day anniversary of the ferry capsizing. As part of the piece I visited Gwanghamun Square on Saturday, where some parents of the victims are currently on a hunger strike in protestation over the inaction shown by the Korean government in bringing those responsible to justice. At the Square they had set up speakers to play a continuous loop of the audio from a video recorded by a Sewol victim as the ferry sank. A truly heartbreaking thing to watch, the video was recovered from 17-year-old Park Su Hyeon’s mobile phone after his body was found. It’s a damning piece of evidence in terms of capturing the sluggish response from the ship’s crew, and the mixture of humour, fear, and general confusion shown by the students is indicative of how little they were informed about the Sewol’s problems.
The crowd gathered in support of Sewol victims and their families. Photo by Brendan Day
I am also preparing for a piece on the Korean cricket team, inspired by Nick Gowland’s article on the popularity of cricket in Korea. My package will be centred on the national team and its quest to compete in the upcoming Asian Games — apparently they were formed purely so Korea could be represented in every sport at the Games. A fourth package I had planned on doing, one revolving around the Boryeong Mud Festival and its popularity with foreign tourists, had to be scrapped due to time constraints and an unwillingness to participate from the Festival’s organisers. It was a package I was looking forward to creating, but I think I’ll be busy enough with the other three anyway.
There hasn’t been a lot of time to engage with Korea on a cultural level, though myself and Nick did get a chance to see Crying Nut, the originators of punk music in Korea. With their mix of rapid-fire rhythms, raucous sing-alongs and, curiously, an accordion and a tin whistle, Crying Nut instantly gained a couple of new fans and were nice enough to hang around after the show and talk to us — photos were taken, but can’t be shown here due to certain single-fingered gestures being displayed.
I have grown to love the food over here, its mix of sweet and spice proving to be surprisingly varied and consistently delicious. A couple of my favourites so far have been tteokbokki, a soft rice cake dish with sweet chilli sauce, and bingsu, a dessert of shaved ice and milk which is often topped with red bean paste. As a coffee aficionado I’ve been let down by Korea’s coffee culture, however — the drinks here tend to be sugared, flavoured, and covered in whipped cream. But it’s only one week until I head back to Australia, and I can’t wait to get home and order a skim flat white from my local café.