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English Newspaper on Campus Is a Door to Knowledge

   
▲ Ko Ki-wan, The Korea Economic Daily, Dept. of Sociology (Class of ’82)
   
 

   Almost all English newspapers, printed on Korean campuses, seem to fail to draw readers’ attention and curiosity. It is not because they are written in English, a language that is hard to learn, but because they do not meet the readers’ needs. Stories are not worthy nor interesting enough to catch my eyes. The make-ups are not attractive enough to stop me from scrolling down indifferently.

   The necessity of English newspapers on campuses does not guarantee the budget from the college administration. The attention and the love from student readers are the requirements of long-lived papers. 

   The long history of the Post dates back to 1960s. Since then hundreds of students have joined The Dongguk Post so that the paper could carry on this far. It is a great honor that I was one of the members working with the Post. I had learnt a lot in the office for three years of being there. I spent the whole three years writing stories and editing the pages. Without my life in the Post, I would not have this kind of ability to write something in English.

   English is such an important a language that enables you to run business, and connect with the global market easily.

   Statistics show that 94 percent of the scientific essays coming out every year are written in English. This means that if you have an excellent command of English, you have a better access to the brand-new knowledge more quickly and effectively than your competitor. Now it is out of date to think that because English is a foreign language you do not have to be so desperate to learn it.

   Bok Geo-il, a prominent Korean scientific novelist, once suggested that Korea should take a Copernicus initiative to designate English as a second official language. The reason he said so was clear. He pointed out that a huge amount of knowledge slips away because of our poor handling of English. Language barrier blocks us from acquiring the cutting-edge technology and information.

   Furthermore, 80 percent of Internet information comes and goes in English. The population of the world who speaks English as a second official language amounts to 300 millions. This means that those who speak English in total, including “English as mother tongue” reach 500 millions of people. If we add people who speak English in “social clubs,” it snowballs to one billion. One out of seven communicates each other in English. According to BBC, an English broadcasting, the value of English is 7.8 billion dollars worth.

   In this context, the importance of English newspapers on campuses is so critical. Those who work in English newspapers should think hard and different. Drawing attention from student readers is more important than just printing it regularly. Content is everything that makes papers live long. If readers turn their heads, it means it is time you closed the paper.

   It has been three decades since I finished my career at the Post. Now I work with The Korea Economic Daily, Korean version of The Wall Street Journal. My life with the Post makes me understand why The Dongguk Post stands atop in the race of campus English newspapers, some of which were closed.

   English newspapers are tools to make students remind the importance of English in which they can communicate with the world. English is not a simple language, but rather it is a door to the world, the information and the knowledge that rush in and out right now and in the future to come.

Ko Ki-wan  dadad@hankyung.com

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