Guinness Listed? Democracy at its best? Media’s excessive evaluation of ‘door stepping’

More than 50 days have passed since the Yun Seok-yeol administration took office. President Yoon Seok-yeol, who relocated the presidential office to Yongsan with the will to increase communication with the people by expressing the Blue House as a palace in Gujung, has been conveying his opinions through questions and answers on the way to work since his inauguration. It is refreshing and pleasant to see the top government officials answering questions about current issues. However, it is questionable to express the ‘question and answer on the way to work’ that lasted less than a minute as ‘door-stepping briefing’ in English, and it is also questionable whether the media properly conveys this to the public. The Citizens’ Coalition for the Democratic Press looked into the problem of reporting ‘Questions and Answers on the way to work’.

Uncritical Quote Journalism and Excessive Glamour

Channel A “Dobae from Minbyon”, reported without checking the facts

▲ Difference between the reports of Channel A (June 8) and Ohmy News (June 9) regarding President Yoon Seok-Yeol’s ‘person from Minbyun’ remarks

President Yoon Seok-yeol’s ‘Questions and Answers on the way to work’ has the advantage that the president’s thoughts are transmitted to the public without any changes, but there are also a lot of controversies due to unrefined remarks. There are also differences in the way the media reports.

Channel A (Reporter Noh Eun-ji on June 8) On the way to work on June 8, to a reporter’s question about ‘prosecution biased personnel’, President Yoon answered, “In the past, people from Minbyon didn’t do a lot of paperwork? If you look at a country like the United States, people with the experience of government attorneys (prosecutors) are entering politics very widely. Wouldn’t that be a rule of law?” and reported, “As if determined to refute the criticism of the prosecution’s biased personnel with examples from the past government.”

But this is not true. Oh My News (Reporter Kim Si-yeon on June 9) stated that on June 8, the Yoon Seok-yeol administration at the time said, “Among the key figures, 15 were prosecutors (including three public prosecutors). There were only three people,” and explained, “In the first cabinet and the Presidential Secretariat, there were three major figures from Minbyon, which was not much different from the number from the prosecution.” Unlike Channel A, which conveyed President Yoon’s ‘Questions and Answers on the way to work’ as it was, it was reported after finding out the facts.

Even the suggestion of ‘Guinness Listing’ is given too much meaning

▲ On the 12th of June, the Dailyan asked President Yoon Seok-yeol to enter the Guinness Book of Records on his way to work
▲ On the 12th of June, the Dailyan asked President Yoon Seok-yeol to enter the Guinness Book of Records on his way to work

Although the truth of President Yoon’s question and answer on his way to work has been controversial, some reports have been overly glorified by evaluating them as ‘the best thing I did after taking office’ and ‘skillful door stepping’.

Dalian (June 12, regular freelance writer) said, “This instant question-and-answer that previous presidents could not even dare to come up with” “has become a brand of Yun Seok-yeol” and “If you add the occasional official press conferences, 1000 times will be easy. It will pass”, so I suggested, “Try to be listed in the Guinness Book of Records.” At the same time, President Yoon defended the “answer to the point”, saying, “I hold an interview in about a minute to answer only the main points of the questions that the people are most curious about” and “It is also not possible to throw a single word or to skip over a very difficult question.” It was deliberately evaluated as a “strategy to use”. In addition, he emphasized, “Yoon Seok-yeol’s door stepping is an indoor reform measure following the outdoor reform of the opening of the Blue House, and is ‘the best thing he has done since he took office’.”

News 1 too (Reporter Lee Ho-seung on June 14) praised, “As the number of door steppings exceeds 10, President Yoon is also gaining confidence in his remarks.” News 1 said, “About a month into office, I am asked four or five questions, and the time to answer each question is getting longer.” said. He continued, “There is an observation that President Yoon got used to responding to the media early while briefing reporters during his time as a prosecutor.” There is also a prospect that there will be an increase,” he added.

Asia Today (Waiting for Lee Kyung-wook on June 20) said, “It is definitely a ‘fresh gift’ to the people on the way to work. I did. Furthermore, he even evaluated that “I never thought of hearing the president’s thoughts directly” but “expressing one’s opinion on political issues in a confident manner” is “true leadership”.

Media in ‘Interpretations rather than Dreams’

There was also a report that gave meaning to each of President Yoon’s remarks on his way to work. JoongAng Ilbo (Reporter Hyun Il-hoon on June 16) reported on June 15, “President Yoon, who walked to reporters waiting for door stepping, first said, ‘It should have rained a bit, but it did rain a little last night. It was a statement I was worried about from the beginning of the situation where damage was concerned.” Then, “when asked (reporter) his position on the conclusion of the cargo coalition negotiations,” President Yoon said, “‘Well, I am nervous. I think we have to work together well,’” he explained, but President Yoon’s message was “focused on responding quickly to economic crises.”

TV Chosun (Reporter Hwang Jung-min on June 19) said, “In the past administration, the president often made promises to actively communicate but did not keep them.” The Blue House briefing was also “reported on the feet of ‘Blue House officials’,” and “People are a little vague about who this means.” However, he emphasized that “the room for misunderstandings and misunderstandings has clearly decreased as the president directly explains the pending issues under the current government.” “If you mention too much detail, you can narrow the scope of the government’s movement by that much.” He even found the hidden intentions of President Yoon’s remarks and praised them. However, it is difficult to see that misunderstandings or misunderstandings are really decreasing when you look at how the presidential office repeatedly organizes remarks after President Yoon’s remarks on the way to work.

President Yoon’s continued improvisational remarks are only frank, and it is difficult to see that they contain concerns. At this point, some people wonder what the meaning of the president’s questions and answers on the way to work, which requires interpretation of the presidential office, is. Seoul Economy (Reporter Nam-gyun Kim on May 18th), “The quality of communication is not keeping up with the advanced form”, The Hankyoreh (Reporter Kim Min-a on June 11) reported that the most frequently asked question by reporters over the past month was “Are you going to appoint △△△?”

Nevertheless, the ‘question-and-answer session’, where the media can frequently meet with the president and ask about his thoughts on pending issues, should continue. Although President Yoon Seok-yeol’s Q&A on his way to work is short, it is because there is something to be evaluated positively in terms of increasing communication with his reporters. However, in order to have value beyond formality, both the ‘answering president’ and the ‘questioning reporter’ must have greater responsibility.

Negative reporting method ‘door stepping’, is it a communication method?

In particular, many media refer to President Yoon’s questions and answers on his way to work as ‘door-stepping’ and even wonder about the positive portrayal of it. ‘Door-stepping’, translated as ‘door-stepping’, means a question-and-answer in an open place, that is, a question asked by reporters while waiting at the door. It is the act of reporters waiting in front of the door of the other party without coordinating a schedule to get answers or information from reporters.

President Yun Seok-yeol and reporters on their way to work answered the question and answer of the reporters. Calling ‘door stepping’ in the sense of promised coverage is different from the original meaning, and it is not an appropriate expression. Considering the short time of just over a minute, it seems insufficient to even call it a ‘summary interview’. As such, the media that properly pointed out the problem of door stepping being used differently from the meaning of the original language was TBS. There are very few except for Oh My News.

Oh My News (Reporter Park Seong-woo on July 1) said, “According to the usage and guidelines in the British media, door stepping seems to be closer to a surprise questioning method, such as ‘stretch’ in Korean press terms, rather than a brief press conference. It has the meaning of an interview method,” he explained. According to the BBC Safety Guidelines, a public broadcaster in the UK, it is an interview method that is avoided as much as possible to the extent that it stipulates that “all door stepping must be approved in advance by a senior manager”. TBS In (June 17th), host Jung Joon-hee pointed out, “The subject of door stepping is not the president, but a journalist. He then emphasized, “We need to know that it is an unpleasant method for the parties involved,” as a “reporting method that is far from a communication method.”

Media that abuses inaccurate foreign words

On the other hand, it is difficult to understand the meaning of the expression ‘door stepping’ unless you are familiar with English. Abusing a foreign language with an easily understandable Korean language should be avoided as it leads to a disconnection of communication and alienation of information. Article 15 (Expansion of Korean culture) Paragraph 2 stipulates that “mass media such as newspapers, broadcasting, magazines, and the Internet shall endeavor to contribute to the correct use of the Korean language by the people.”

The media use “President Yoon on the way to work” and “President Yoon on the way to work” the most, but there is no hesitation in using ‘Door Stepping’. Among the 10 newspapers and 7 broadcasters’ evening news, the Dong-A Ilbo was the only newspaper and KBS, MBC, and SBS did not use the word ‘door stepping’ in the broadcast.

▲ President Yoon Seok-Yeol's brief interview. Newspapers and broadcasters' evening general news.  Table = Citizens' Alliance for Democratic Press
▲ President Yoon Seok-Yeol’s brief interview. Newspapers and broadcasters’ evening general news. Table = Citizens’ Alliance for Democratic Press

Is it okay to abuse ‘Door Stepping, National Memorial Park’?

▲ MBN report that used 'door stepping' without hesitation (June 9) and 'Easy Korean' featuring AI anchor Kim Joo-Ha (June 27)
▲ MBN report that used ‘door stepping’ without hesitation (June 9) and ‘Easy Korean’ featuring AI anchor Kim Joo-Ha (June 27)

The media broadcasts reports and programs that help people understand foreign languages ​​or Korean language that are easy to use incorrectly because they recognize the importance of respecting the value of Korean language and using it correctly. Seven newspapers and three broadcasts among the monitors are broadcasting reports and programs to purify and understand the Korean language.

MBN is a weekday morning news Kim Joo-ha, an AI anchor from ‘, is broadcasting ‘Easy Korean’, “refining foreign words that are used incorrectly in daily life into Korean”. The Kookmin Ilbo is also continuously publishing ‘Easy Korean Writing’ in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the Federation of Korean Language and Culture Institutes, and the Korean Language and Culture Coalition. Kookmin Ilbo (Reporter Park Min-ji on June 18) said, “Public language handling public information should be particularly easy to understand. important,” he pointed out.

▲ Serial reports and program names related to Korean language purification by major media outlets.  Table = Citizens' Alliance for Democratic Press
▲ Serial reports and program names related to Korean language purification by major media outlets. Table = Citizens’ Alliance for Democratic Press

Spending ‘language cost’ on the illusion that ‘looks plausible’

However, in the media reports related to ‘door stepping’, there was a low level of criticism of the target who used or abused foreign words very easily. There are other cases like this. President Yoon Seok-yeol invited the People’s Power leadership to the Yongsan Presidential Office on June 10, introducing a plan to create a citizen park near his office, and it became a topic of discussion that he would like to name it ‘National Memorial Park’. On that day, President Yoon was known to have said, “When you say National Memorial Park in English, it’s cool, but when you say National Memorial Park, it’s not stylish, so I don’t know what to call it in Korea.”

However, most of the media only quoted it without criticism. Kookmin Ilbo (Reporter Kim Seong-hoon on June 10) was just a list of remarks made during the luncheon meeting between the People’s Power leadership and President Yoon Seok-yeol, as were related reports from the Dong-A Ilbo and Chosun Biz. Channel A (Reporter Song Chan-wook on June 15) Also, President Yoon said, “I would like to name it National Memorial Park,” and he only said that Yongsan Park was “promoting a plan to turn it into ‘Korea’s National Mall’.” .

Abuse of English is a problem that has been consistently pointed out, leading to controversies against the use of Korean language and slurred English. The media has also ordered that ‘Korean language that is easy for people to understand’ should be used, not English, which the public does not know well. JoongAng Ilbo (Reporter Bae Sang-bok on July 12, 2021) asked, “Why do you like to use the word ‘governance’ like this?” He continued, “Sometimes it may be because it is the most accurate term, but in general, I doubt that it is because something seems plausible.” He added, “The life of a public language is accuracy and communication. He explained that if you use the correct terminology, communication will follow.

There are also reports that point out the problem of the media, which should take the lead in using Korean language that is easy for readers to understand, abuses foreign words in their reports. Hankyoreh (Reporter Jiyoon Kim on August 23, 2021) looked at the unfamiliar terminology pouring out in the media. “Language cost is the waste of time spent searching the Internet to understand the meaning of unfamiliar words.” He suggested that the mass media use purified language, saying, “Using purified language reduces the cost of such language.” In addition, he emphasized that “there should be no one left out of important information” by improving the “reporting terminology used in the news” to make it easier for citizens to understand when they are faced with an emergency.

As the media plays an important role in delivering important information to the public, like public institutions, it should refrain from foreign languages ​​and try to use Korean language that anyone can easily understand. Above all else, rather than attaching excessive meaning to political statements using foreign language or wrapping them in words, the media should be faithful to its original role of checking and monitoring power.

– Monitor target: June 9-20, 2022 Kyunghyang Shinmun, Dong-A Ilbo, Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo, Hankyoreh, Hankook Ilbo, Maeil Business Newspaper, Seoul Economic Daily, Korea Economic Journal, June 9-10, 2022 KBS MBC SBS JTBC TV Chosun (weekday)/(Weekend), Channel A MBN (weekday)/(Weekend), June 9-20, 2022 Related reports after searching for ‘Door Stepping’ and ‘National Memorial Park’ on Naver portal site

※ Media Today is publishing the ‘Mineonryun Monitor Report’ of the Citizens’ Alliance for Democratic Press in partnership. This article may not be consistent with today’s media coverage.