"Thank you, Mr. President." Most Korean journalists do not use the four words to express heartfelt thanks to President Roh Moo-hyun who will step down from the office in four months. Journalists, instead, would say that to criticize him in a cynical way.
President Roh has recently taken a weird policy of herding all the formerly resident reporters of government buildings into a new pen called The New Convergent Briefing Room that is located in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Commerce. Reporters have no choice but to go to the pen to receive press releases. This means that resident reporters were kicked out of the existing press rooms within every government building.
Here is how the Propaganda President and his followers manipulate: the pen, which is more like a concentration camp, is absolutely for reporters. Ironically, however, almost all reporters were outraged by this action. Journalism experts emphasize that President Roh is trying to keep reporters from the news spots and to prevent them from catching things happening in the government sector.
To protest against the policy, resident reporters of the Foreign Affairs and Commerce Ministry occupied the lobby of the Ministry and there they wrote news and stories. They had to buy long electric extension cords to use their computers.
Whatever the purpose President Roh took into consideration, the policy, in a sense, provided a momentum for newsmen to equip themselves with a new weapon of selfdefense, that is, a wireless broadband 3G mobile device. Thanks to wireless broadband, fixed-line Internet is not needed any more. President Roh seemed to think that reporters would flock to the new briefing room to use fixed-broadband Internet lines. That is why Roh and his cronies, in a ridiculously childish manner, cut the electric lines and shut down the Internet in all the press rooms before tearing down the rooms completely.
The weird environment demanded a new resolution from reporters. The rootless reporters had to find some place where they could write news articles and transmit them to their news departments. The solution they finally found is nothing other than wireless broadband 3G services, as I mentioned earlier. It would be appropriate to say "thank you, Mr. President" again at this point. Without President Roh's new censorship, Korean journalists would have remained satisfied with fixed-line broadband Internet. This shift in journalism from fixed-line to wireless broadband would not be possible without his help.
This is, so to speak, a challenge and response. Wireless journalism is changing, in a way, the pictures of Korean journalists and media. This is a new trend that Korean journalism has never before experienced. For example, I and my colleagues were provided with wireless broadband mobile devices that make it possible for us to upload articles at any place and at any time in the city. Nowadays I and my colleagues can write articles sitting in cafes, on couches and stairs in downtown Seoul. The only thing I do is to plug the device into the side of my laptop computer. I really enjoy writing things in coffee shops, especially in Starbucks and The Coffee Bean. One more thing I should do is to mind the electric code. This means that the best seat for reporters is not a seat by windows with a great view, but a seat next to the electric plug. If you have a laptop computer with a powerful battery that lasts 4 or 5 hours, you do not have to worry.
The wireless broadband service is different from the existing wireless LAN service both in speed and coverage. Wireless LAN is a service installed in a certain area while wireless broadband is a service like a 3G mobile phone. If you subscribe to one of the three wireless broadband services, you can enjoy Internet surfing in open areas like parks, bus stations, even in subway trains running at high speed. They are totally different from wireless LANs. That is why wireless broadband is a salvation for Korean journalists who have lost their nests.
There are three kinds of wireless broadband 3G services in Korea. Of course, they are the first served in the world. The newlyborn services are T-login, I Plug, and WiBro. The total number of subscribers now only reached to the one hundred thousands. The market is not that big now, but the growth rate is skyrocketing.
The three services have their own positive sides. WiBro is fast in its upload speed and the fee is affordable. But it covers only Seoul and Kyunggi province. Meanwhile I Plug and T-login are more competitive in coverage. If you subscribe to one of the two, you can chat with friends on Messenger anywhere and can transmit photos and articles regardless the place you belong to. Your only disappointment is its high fee.
Whatever the fee is, however, wireless broadband services contribute to the freedom of the press. For journalists, the services set us free of the new censorship by President Roh. Roomless but wireless reporters, rejoice!