I was born and bred in Seoul with two Korean parents. My parents don’t really speak English but I was raised bilingual, speaking English from a very young age. My parents wanted me to be successful in this anglocentric world. That was a blessing and a curse. While it allowed me to be more well-read on everything that goes on in the world, I also learned that Koreans are marginalized even when it comes to issues regarding Korea.
Nowadays there is more and more content about Korea in English media, but they still mostly come from Westernized perspectives. They are often misguided, and even when they are not, they do not necessarily reflect the positions of Koreans. So much misinformation and disinformation go unchecked because anglophones don’t know better or care enough, and Koreans don’t read English materials. So I am starting The Koreanist to bring Korean voices online in English. In other words, I write in English not to be more palatable to anglophones but to tell them what they need to (but don’t always want to) hear. I want us be heard, and I will use my abilities to make that happen.
Before The Koreanist, this site was more of a personal blog named after myself. I purposely refrained from building my platform around Korea because after all, I am just one person and I do not speak for all Koreans. But after giving it some thought, I decided that while I certainly don’t speak for all Koreans, I can start a platform that facilitates all Koreans to tell their stories.
This is a one-woman operation for now, but I would like to expand it to include more works by people from all around Korea. I want to cover not just politics and social issues but our rich culture and arts, both modern and traditional. I want to cover our daily lives as Koreans. In mainstream media, much of the coverage and representation of Korea is centered around Seoul. Being from Seoul myself, I am definitely guilty of it too. But I want to ensure voices from all regions of Korea are heard.
I will not be using ad programs going forward and I am never going to put any of the contents behind a paywall. I have seen many people pursue personal gains at the expense of Korea, and that being a major part of the reason why I started The Koreanist, I would never do that. Spreading the message is so much more important than making money. I may take very selective sponsorships from small businesses in Korea in the future, but the focus will be on promoting the local businesses that make up Korean communities, not my own profit.
For a several years, I’ve dreamed of seeing a platform driven by Korean interests. I’ve finally come to the conclusion that the best way to see it is to create one myself.
So today I launch The Koreanist. If you are Korean, I invite you to join me.
Signed, Jihyun Kim