In January 2007, I stayed on Long Island, New York for one month and participated in the “Teen Teen World Camp” hosted by JoongAng Ilbo. There, I studied with American eighth graders, traveled along the eastern coast, and shared my experiences with a local journalist.
It is ironic, however, that my most intense memory is rather skeptical one. One day in American history class, I suddenly became obsessed with a question as the teacher talked about the Spanish American War in 1898: what was the genuine purpose of the U.S.’s attacks on Spain’s holdings in the Pacific, in particular the Philippines? The teacher said that it was for the sake of the Filipinos, which I could not fully understand. Why would the U.S invest blood and treasure to free a people so far away? I looked around at my classmates but failed to find anyone else who also seemed to hold my doubts.
My thoughts led me to Japanese nationalists’ continued re-writing and rationalizations of Japan’s horrific actions in the World War II, which have infuriated Koreans and other Asians. I then realized that Korea must continue to work to make the truth known and to stay known. As for me, I was motivated to pursue a deeper level of studying Korea and to better my English as a powerful means of communication.
As the editor-in-chief of The Granite Tower (GT), I related my internal changes to those of the magazine. In the past, Korean university students had limited access to English and English campus publications, including GT, must have been important sources of English study. Today’s situation is quite different. Many Korea University (KU) students have been exposed to English since a young age, have a fairly good command of English, and have easy access to English media from around the globe. Moreover, as the goal of KU’s senior students in the second half of the 1900’s— democratization—has been mostly achieved, campus media now lack a clear purpose.
GT needs a new role, and it ought to be to link Korea and the globe by taking advantage of English as lingua franca. Simply put, GT should promote Korea as well as KU to foreign readers while at the same time contributing vital information to Korean readers. This semester we will particularly focus on publicizing Korea. For example, in this issue, not only do we cover Korean culture such as cuisine and music, but we discuss the rise of the new president, Korean businesses’ ethical and social tasks, and the successful launch of Naro.
For 59 years, GT has prided itself as KU’s only English media. But as the world changes so must GT. Our first step is to establish a new identity and a new zeitgeist