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DU’s English Jewel
The Dongguk Post and Dongguk University (DU) are, for me, inseparable because I’ve been the English magazine’s proof reader [sic] since I joined the English Dept. in 1994 and have written every “Foreigner’s Eye” since then.
    Too many students enter DU with high hopes of a fulfilling university life, only to be disillusioned by the end of freshman year.  They want something to happen, something to change their lives; but all too often nothing happens because they are waiting, like the two tramps in Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot,” for something to happen rather than making it happen by themselves.  But there are those that take notice of the Post’s campus recruitment posters and have an epiphany:  “Maybe this is what I’m longing for”?
    The curious are disabused of that notion by the sheer hard work it takes to publish the magazine and loose interest quickly, but a determined few are sure that they have found their niche and are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to be accepted there.
    The Post is DU’s English jewel, and its best-kept secret.  Its best-kept secret because of the opportunity the magazine affords those who join as Cub reporters and who eventually are privileged to write one of the featured columns and even become editor-in-chief.  In between their “Debut Essay” and “Swan Song” farewell essay, they become seasoned reporters adept at publishing a magazine from conception to distribution.
    Sticking it out at the Post requires a commitment.  The reward is taking part in a creative process unlike any the student has done before or will likely do again.  For not one Post alum has, during my tenure, continued in the journalism field after leaving the magazine.  They chose a typical career tract like their fellow graduates.
I would hazard to say that Post reporters get more out of their university experience than any other students on campus.  This is why they are affected by ennui after their days at the magazine end and is also why alums frequently visit the Post’s office after they were graduated from DU.  I’m sure that they will always remember their stint at the magazine as their true golden years; for the Post is an opportunity that comes once in a lifetime.
    Since the Post is a commitment, I’m always concerned that the pool of students willing to sacrifice themselves will dry up and the magazine will fold.  Yet there are always those committed few who keep the magazine going despite the demands on their personal and academic life.  Cub reporters earn their spurs and become reporters; one crew retires and another steps up to keep the Post published. 
    Considerably improved writing skill is the obvious reward of working at the Post; and I’m surprised that more students don’t join the magazine to avail themselves of this opportunity.  But they would soon learn that writing is only the last step of a journalistic process requiring thorough research, investigation and interviewing before pen is put to paper.
    Students learn to use their initiative at the Post.  After years of obeying the stultifying dictums of the educational system, they now have a chance to take part in a creative task from start to finish.  The onus rests on their shoulders.  While their peers are in the library, they are getting invaluable experience that will serve them well no matter their career paths.
    The previous editor-in-chief, Yoon Ji-won, used her initiative and single-handedly saved the Post from termination after the campus powers that be concluded that the magazine was irrelevant and threaten to end its funding.  She took it upon herself to prove the Post’s relevance by getting student articles publish in the Korea Times, not only saving the magazine but getting DU invaluable publicity, too.  She was then honored by President Hong Ki-sam for her service to the University.
    Yoon Ji-won’s tenure as editor?and-chief was superlative.  Not surprisingly, Nivia saw her obvious potential and hired her, while chaebols would not even grant her an interview.  Sometimes it takes a foreigner to see what is best about Korea.   
    With its finger on the campus pulse, the Post gives me insight into the inner machinations of DU decision making as well as informing me about socio-cultural events.  For example, I’d never heard of Hines Ward until reading Prof. Kim Ae-ju’s “Homecoming” essay about the Korean-American nor knew about Jultagi until reading Lee Ji-eun’s “King of Clowns,” both published in the March issue.  So many times over the years something would become popular in the mass media, and I would say to myself, “I remember proofreading an article about that in the Post.”
    No one reads the Post as thoroughly as me.  Thus, I could empathize with Harold Ross, the legendary founder-cum-editor of The New Yorker, when I read an insightful collection of his letters about his life at the helm of that iconic magazine, especially about “agonizing” over commas.  Ross claimed that he read every word in The New Yorker, from cover to cover, before it hit the news stands each week.
    Proofreading the Post is a tedious job that gives me eye strain by the time it reaches the printer.  Nonetheless, it is most satisfying to observe insecure Cub reporters with limited writing skills develop into confident reporters who write lucid articles.  I like to think that my editing and copious correcting has something to do with it.  And I also like to think that I will figure prominently when they reminisce about their golden years at the magazine.
    The Post is an opportunity for me, as well.  By the end of a semester, all I can hope for is that my composition students have saved their copiously corrected compositions for future reference and don’t forget my “Quality, not Quantity” mantra when they put pen to paper for an English Composition class in North America, but there is, after all, only so much a teacher can accomplice in a semester.  I work, however, with Post reporters for years, and no teacher could ask for better material to mold than the dedicated band of students at The Dongguk Post.  To think that I can have a permanent influence on them is gratifying.

Sherbo  leesj117@dongguk.edu

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