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The first day at work was what work-life balance dreams are made of. It was - and will probably remain - the shortest work day of my life.

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The glass "wave" is built behind the Japanese city hall building as a form of fighting back using architectural symbolism

Arca and I were greeted by Claudia, our point of contact with Korean radio station TBS who we had met via email, and given a tour of the department and its recording studios. We were introduced to our respective teams, whose shows both air in the morning. And after that, we were done for the day! We were excited at the prospect of exploring the city. I would be joining the Koreascape team along with Sharon, an intern from New York University who had decided to extend her internship. The jobs here, I found, were broken up into very specific roles. The Koreascape team consisted of the host, Kurt, producer Linda (who would do sound editing and be at the control panel during broadcast), associate producer Jamie (who organised the guests), and writer Jennifer (who wrote introductions and questions to each segment). Over the course of the week, I would discover this meant the staff were almost never stressed. Each team member had a discrete task, which was very different to what I was used to in Australia, where the role “producer” encompassed all the above roles. Each day, after the broadcast ended, we would have a daily meeting to decide on content, go to lunch and often do a pre-recording with a guest.

The first of such guest recordings I got to observe was with a UNHCR (UN refugee agency) spokesperson for a segment on the situation in Jeju island. The issue arose when more than 500 Yemeni refugees arrived on the resort island after realising they did not need a visa. With no laws in place to address such a situation, the Korean government quickly patched legal loopholes and banned the refugees from travelling to the South Korean mainland. It was interesting to see how Koreascape handled the issue; Koreascape is an English-language program with expats making up a significant percentage of its listeners, meaning they likely have different values to the everyday Korean. TBS, however, is a government station and has been described as conservative by my colleagues. Seeing how a liberal-leaning program functions in a conservative-leaning station, and the dynamics and careful balance it brings, was quite fascinating.

On Thursday, the three of us headed to the Australian embassy for our meeting with the Ambassador, James Choi. The meeting allowed us to ask the questions we were most curious about regarding the Korean-Australian relationship and about Korea. We learnt how Australia is trying to brand itself in the international market; important historical sites in Korea; the symbolic architectural atrocities the Japanese committed during its occupation of Korea; and how Korea rebuilt itself and made use of architectural symbolism in turn (as in above photo). An anecdote he told us reflecting the hierarchical nature of Korean workplaces stood out: Busan Bank, wanting to expand overseas, decided they needed a name more suited for an international audience. Without much consultation, the chairman came up with an acronym: BS Bank. Due to their hierarchical relationship, the vice chairman could not bear to tell his boss how this might be perceived by an international audience Thus, Busan bank's attempt to expand under “BS Bank” met limited success.

About the Blog

Parallax records the experiences of final year students of the B.A. (Media & Communications) degree who have won competitive overseas internships to work in Asian, Indian and Latin American media organisations.
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