Arirang TV Video Reporting: CNNgo’s 12 Rules for Expat Life in Korea

On a recent project with Arirang TV, I was a reporter walking around Itaewon asking foreigners their opinions on the controversial article “12 rules for expat Life in Korea” written by former Seoul resident Kyle Burton.

This article caused quite a stir. The blogging community here in Korea took offense to what they considered as the writer’s stereotypical approach to creating the list. The criticism was that the highlighted material, suggested as essential to survival, was short sided and only contributed to the poor reputation of foreigners in Korea. Another reason why this article wasn’t so well received was due to poor translation by a Korean newspaper, which suggests that the Korean community got a skewed version and perception of the original article.

The resulting response was huge as Koreans and foreigners alike shared their disdain, including many prominent bloggers. In his response, Roboseyo accuses CNNgo of purposely trying to attract traffic to their site by utilizing blogger outrage. ChrisInSouthKorea agrees with a few of the rules, then follows with his own list. Paul Ajosshi responds with one simple rule of his own: Don’t be a WANKER. Hard to argue with that.

Kyle is an acquaintance of mine, who no longer lives in Korea. We worked together on a failed attempt at the 48 Hour Film Project last year. I reached out to him after I realized he wrote the article that was receiving so much heat, acknowledging that some sort of congratulations was in order for drastically shaking things up. Overall, his response was gracious. He was also a bit shocked to see how many people were so deeply offended, and annoyed at how so many couldn’t find the humor in it.

That seems to be the main point here, in my opinion. When something appears on CNN, readers expect it to be “The News”. With that in mind, when they read something like the 12 rules for expat life in Korea article, they are taken back, maybe a bit confused. Read the comments on the actual article to understand what I’m talking about.

So what is exactly? Should we expect the same level of professionalism that we get from the CNN organization?

The answers can be found here, in the About Us section of Allow me to paraphrase:

CNNgo covers travel, lifestyle, personalities and latest trends in the most fascinating and vibrant places in the world. You’ll find daily updates on the best our cities and region have to offer. CNNGo provides you with a better view into the city you live and the places you travel; a sharp, witty, concise companion with firsthand experience in each city we cover. In short, CNNGo is a city and region guide written by insiders for insiders.

Here’s the important stuff:
CNNGo is different from or the CNN you watch on television, we’re a separate division of CNN with our own regional staff; a much smaller operation than CNN’s global team of 4,000 news professionals. LIKE CNN, HOWEVER, WE DEMAND ACCURACY AND PROFESSIONALISM. WE PROVIDE BALANCED, WELL-RESEARCHED POSTS AND REMAIN OBJECTIVE AT ALL TIMES.

In listing the goals of CNNgo I’m not saying that I disagree with choice to run Kyle’s 12 rules piece, but I can see how others would misconstrue the presence of such an article on a site affiliated with CNN, that strives to uphold the same standards.

Personally, I found the 12 rules article humorous, but that kind of stuff doesn’t usually fire me up.

One last interesting point, this all seems to have spawned a new blog idea for Mr. Kyle Burton. You can now find rules listed a dozen at a time his blog 12 Rules A Week .

~ by ripcitytoseoul on June 24, 2011.

One Response to “Arirang TV Video Reporting: CNNgo’s 12 Rules for Expat Life in Korea”

  1. “Another reason why this article wasn’t so well received was due to poor translation by a Korean newspaper, which suggests that the Korean community got a skewed version and perception of the original article.”

    It’s hard to think of a well-translated article originally published outside of Korea, for that matter. That said, most of the ‘outrage’ came from expats. Maybe it caused a scene amongst some Korean netizens, but I couldn’t comment on that.

    Were the original article to appear on a blog (say, Kyle’s new thing), it would have received some attention, but not the outrage. My expectations from CNNGo are the same as those on CNN – and posting the rules only served to confirm that in my mind.

    I wish Kyle the best, and hope CNNGo can refocus on its usually excellent stuff.

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