Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Cheonan Blasts Off? Say What?!

For awhile now I've contemplated a blog about some of the things I deal with as a copy-editor at an English news program in Seoul. A majority of the writers are fairly good and do decent work, but every so often, I get a few bloopers that either have me laughing or scratching my head.

Not to mention, sometimes they get a little bit lazy and forget to check and re-check their sources, something that especially needs to be done if they translate from Korean sources, since a lot of Korean reporters are lazy when it comes to source checking. So I've decided that this post will be devoted to some of the mess ups I've caught so far.

World Cup:
According to one of our reporters... 180 million people were planning to take to the streets on the night of the Uruguay-Korea game to cheer for the national team. I suppose Korea planned to import football fans from other countries since the current population stands at 48 million... (She actually meant 1.8 million.)

Obama's Visit:
Awhile back, Obama came to visit Seoul and was going to speak at one of the military bases. For an entire day, we announced that he would go to Yongsan base, since that was the location told to the reporter by some obscure source. It wasn't until I spoke with my then-boyfriend who was in the Air Force that afternoon, that we discovered he was actually speaking at Osan Air Force Base.

G20 in Canada:
One of our reporters wrote a piece introducing the G20 summit in Toronto. She wrote that the summit was taking place the first week of June... It actually took place the last weekend of June. A fact that was recorded in every major news source at the time the article was written.

Cheonan Huh?:
We have one reporter who covered most of the Cheonan incident. She's nice, but not a native English speaker and definitely kept us entertained while covering such a dark topic. Here's a few gems.

"... the military plans to start lift off the bow as early as Saturday..."
"... the soldiers that sank off the Cheonan..."
"... the dead soldiers were found in their underwears..."

The President Regrets What?
One reporter recently covered the Sejong City revision bill that was voted down at the National Assembly. Really, the entire article was riddled with mistakes. Instead of quoting the ruling GNP parliamentary speaker Park Hee-tae, he quoted parlimentary speaker Park Hee-tak, and then blamed it on bad copy from Yonhap, a major English/Korean newswire here. (Honestly... I'm a foreigner, he's Korean and I knew the guy's real name and title...)

He then quotes President Lee Myung-bak as saying that he "deeply regrets the decision." What the President actually said, was that while he respects the decision, he finds it deeply regrettable.

The Korean War
The same reporter who entertained us during the Cheonan incident, also provided some fun during the anniversary of the Korean War...

"It has been 60 years since the broke out of the Korean War."
"... many soldiers shared blood during the Korean War." (Meant to say 'shed'.)

Senator Joe Lieberman magically became a Democrat again... and that actually went on air before I came on shift and noticed it. (He's been an Independent Democrat since 2006, which is not the same party.) This wouldn't have been that bad, since the parties sound similar, except the reporter proceeded to argue with me, saying that AFP called him a Democrat, so it must be correct. He even asked if I checked AFP to make sure... I just stared at him and reminded him that I'm American... and thorough copy-editor.

A ferry wreck had 50 missing passengers for half of our bulletins one day, when all of the foreign reports that came out before our reporter even wrote the story said there were only 11.

And of course, there are many, many more mistakes that make me scratch my head or think that some of my co-workers have temporary spans of idiocy, however, these are the ones I remembered or wrote down so I wouldn't forget.

Some of them I put on my very own personal "Wall of Shame" at my desk. All the reporters must walk by my desk at some point during the day, so it acts as a reminder that they should double check their stuff before sending it to me... or else blatantly obvious, silly, or stupid mistakes will be posted for all to see.

Every day brings more news... and more mistakes...

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