‘Cheerleading’ rap is often unfairI love to write in the morning. I really do. I’m not talking about getting up early, though. What I mean is starting to write around 2 a.m., or later. There are advantages to working in the wee hours as well as many reasons not to. For me the positives far outweigh the negatives, which I guess is why I continue to write when most people are asleep. Maybe it’s just a habit from my college days, when it seemed like my only study sessions were all-night crams just before a test. I don’t know why, but it seems to suit me.
One big reason is that at 3 o’clock in the morning it seems like I have the whole world to myself. I have time to reflect and to go through the e-mails that people who actually take the time to read my column have sent me.
I really appreciate all of those letters, no matter how short ― or critical. It gives me a tremendous sense of satisfaction to know that there are those out there who don’t just read their horoscopes and move on to Page 3. And if they drop me a note about a column I’ve written it means that I made some sort of impression on them. A big enough impression to compel them to share their thoughts with me.
One thing I’ve noticed is that most of the letters offering praise are short ― often just a single sentence. Those offering criticism ― which I’m completely open to, and probably deserving of ― can sometimes run longer than the column they are criticizing.
Nevertheless, I appreciate any kind of input, whether it’s flak or a pat on the back, because it gives me an incentive to do better. For the readers who praise me, I want to keep making them happy. For those who criticize, I want to win them over.
I devote a lot of time to Korean athletes who are competing abroad, like Choi Hee-seop, a major league baseball player, or Lee Yong-pyo, who plays in the Dutch professional soccer league. I write about them a lot because they are the athletes that most fans ― including myself ― want to read about.
One of the most common criticisms from my readers is that the coverage of these athletes in the “Korean press” is nothing but blatant cheerleading. The local media are accused of overstating the players’ talents, anointing them “stars” on the basis of one or two good performances.
If by “Korean press” these readers mean the local sports tabloids, they may be right. Like sensationalist publications the world over, they rely on provocative headlines and splashy artwork to catch eyes at the newsstand. And what headline sells better than one about a local boy making good?
But the sports pages of any major Korean newspaper are different. They feature solid journalism done by people who take their work seriously. Sure, they write about the local boys (and girls, particularly in the world of golf) making good overseas.
But the major dailies don’t just print hype. Generally, it’s evenhanded analysis and strong coverage of the players their readers are interested in.
Every reader is entitled to his opinion. But be careful about forming an opinion based on limited information.
As for this column, I’m happy to accept all the blame and shame-on-you e-mails. After all, what else am I going to read at 2:30 in the morning?
by Brian Lee