This is the final ‘Desk Musing’ I’ll be writing as an editor. It’s been 9 years that the “Asian Campus Tribune” (ACT) has been printing in Korean, English and Chinese. Over the years our publication schedule has changed, our name changed, and we even got with the times and went online. Despite busy school life numerous student interns contributed articles and columns, and against the hounding deadline our unique columnists wrote a variety of fine articles.
Though we are just a small newspaper based in Champaign Illinois, it was proud being a Korean newspaper published in the United States. It came to me while editing the writings of the interns studying in the States, that it was truly a challenge to write well in Korean. Many – or most – of the drafts written by interns were often half English, and half Korean. This is partly due to getting accustomed to English with life in the US, but there were many cases where the Korean did not get expressed as intended.
Having raised my children in the US, I was very interested in Bilingualism. Though not drawing from academic findings or analysis, from my personal observation, a child that learns their first language well picks up on other languages more quickly. And, a child fluent in their first language does not ‘mix’ any two languages when speaking. In other words, when they speak Korean, they speak exclusively in Korean without integrating English words. Quite the contrary, those who have studied in the US in their adulthood are more apt to integrate English vocabulary when they speak. It is also commonly stated that your tongue ‘gets bent’ – where one would speak Korean with an American accent – after living in the States for a while, but this isn’t entirely true. Writing in two languages is similar to speaking it. It would depend on the amount of exposure that the child had to reading and writing in their first language. On the point that speaking and writing takes work, there is no difference between the two.
After the 70s, the so-called “American Culture” came like a Tsunami and swept across Korean culture. The Americanization of the language In particular transformed the signs and it became commonplace to see English where there would have been Korean. Perhaps then it’s not so strange that the younger generation who grew up to this is now writing their Korean in English, and identify with it as “Korean”. Like trying to finding our bearings after crashing against the American current, a new movement to “reclaim what’s ours” began to roll up like the waves. The importance of the Korean language and writing is emphasized again, and the abuse of foreign language is criticized. Just as a terrain struck by a Tsunami is changed forever but into something new, the melding of Korean and foreign languages is taking its natural course. In such environment, a Korean publication was Joy to an American, and Pride to a Korean.
After the emergence of the Internet and SNS, the printing culture took a hard blow. Large bookstores like Borders and Pages for All Ages closed despite Champaign being a campus town, and the Barnes and Nobles main store in New York also closed its doors. With the appearance of e-books, even well-known printers express difficulties in doing business. Newspapers too are on a gradual decline, with growing number of publishers ditching the print to go online. Though we have firmly insisted on printing the Korean edition despite the trend, I am realizing the feeling that there were limits to all things and that everything with a start has an end.
The Korean newspaper was a source of pride not only for spreading Korean news but the Korean language, but will discontinue with the 2017 July issue. I would like to thank everyone who gave their material and emotional support to running the publication of the Korean edition of the Asian Campus Tribune. I’d like to send my thanks to the many interns, reporters, and columnists – who are now contributing to society – for their hard work and their writing. I would also like to extend my thanks to those who agreed to the interviews. Above all, on behalf of our staff and employees, I would like to share my deepest regrets and gratitude to our readers who supported our meager publication, for all the attention and love you’ve shown us.
Asian Campus Tribune will continue to visit you in English and in Chinese, through our web publication, and through Facebook. Thank you again for your continued support and interest.