[FOUNTAIN]Of Words and War

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[FOUNTAIN]Of Words and War

A reporter who covers wars is known as a "war correspondent." Henry Robinson, who reported on the battle of Napoleon's army near the Elbe River in 1807 for The Times of London, was one of the first to have that title. Since Mr. Robinson did not report on actual battle scenes, the so-called "father of war correspondents" is William Russell. Mr. Russell, also a reporter for The Times of London, was dispatched to the Crimean War front, where he revealed problems within the British Army.

One of the most famous war correspondents was Ernest Hemingway. Mr. Hemingway reported on the war between Greece and Turkey for The Toronto Star, a Canadian daily newspaper, and also fought in the Spanish Civil War. From these experiences, Mr. Hemingway wrote such novels as "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "A Farewell to Arms."

Winston Churchill was once a war correspondent. Mr. Churchill was dispatched to the Boer War in 1899 by The Morning Post when he was 25 years old, and he later escaped after being captured by the Boer Army. Lee In-mo, who was extradited to North Korea a few years ago, was a war correspondent for the North Korean army during the Korean War.

Though I do not dare to call myself a war correspondent, I have reported on wars three times. I covered the Gulf War 10 years ago and the Yugoslavian civil war in 1991 and 1994. I have felt that when on the scene, war correspondents do not feel they are in as much danger as other people might during a battle. As they grow used to the atmosphere, war correspondents seemed to be dulled by any sense of hazard. Moreover, reporters' instincts to stay near the fighting increases the chance of accidents even more. War photographers may be in the most danger of anyone.

Not long ago, four journalists, including a woman, were killed in Afghanistan. My condolences go out to these people who sacrificed their lives to report the truth.

To prepare for such events, war correspondents are customarily insured. During the Gulf War, American media agencies bought insurance, which was supposed to pay up to 2 billion won ($1.56 million) per person in compensation for dying in the line of duty. Conversely, Korean war correspondents during that time went uninsured. The JoongAng Ilbo became the first Korean media agency to buy insurance for its reporters during the Yugoslavian civil war in 1994.

Insurers are hesitant to cover Korean reporters leaving for Afghanistan because reporters are being killed there. The Journalists Association of Korea should come forward to rectify this.

The writer is the Berlin correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Yoo Jae-sik

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