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[70th anniversary] 'I was there'

Video chronicles South Korea’s triumphs, challenges through voices of journalists

Aug. 14, 2023 - 10:56 By Lim Jae-seong
Screenshot of documentary "I Was There" (The Korea Herald)

A documentary commemorating the 70-year legacy of South Korea and The Korea Herald will be released online on Aug. 15, the day the newspaper printed its first issue in 1953.

Titled “I Was There,” the eight-minute video revisits the most memorable and historical moments in Korea’s postwar history through reporters of The Korea Herald.

"A lot has transpired at The Korea Herald over the past 70 years," a voice narrates at the beginning of the film. It is followed by interviews with former reporters who share their experiences covering watershed events that have stirred euphoria, grief and all the feelings in between, across Korea and the world.

Featured are nine Herald alumni, including Yun Ik-han, who joined The Korea Herald in 1964 and later led the newsroom as managing editor and editor-in-chief; Lee Kyong-hee, the newspaper's first female managing editor, and the first among Korean media, in 1997; and Choe Sang-hun, a Pulitzer Prize winner and the Seoul bureau chief of the New York Times.

While retelling Korea’s 70-year journey through the lens of journalists at that time, the film also sheds light on the role The Korea Herald has played as the nation’s leading English-language daily and as the world’s window into Korea and Korea’s window to the world.

Featured alumni -- some of whom have retired, moved to other media establishments or sectors -- also recall how newsrooms worked decades ago, when computers and mobile devices were not part of news production, while sending warm words of encouragement to those in the industry today.

Former US Vice President Al Gore, who attended the video’s premiere in May, said he was “moved” by the testimonies from the early members of The Korea Herald newsroom.

“What the Herald has done for 70 years is truly remarkable and has played a significant role in the Korean miracle which has stunned and excited the world,” he said in his address commemorating the 70 years of the South Korea-US alliance and the Herald's foundation. The video was screened at the ceremony in Seoul in front of Gore and dignitaries from government, business and diplomatic circles, as well as former and current Herald staff.

“I Was There,” produced and directed by the in-house production team, will be posted on The Korea Herald’s official YouTube channel on Aug. 15.

Under a playlist of the same title, the documentary will be followed by a weekly release of videos that spotlight the featured alumni.

The start date of the upcoming series is to be announced via The Korea Herald's social media channels.