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[HERALD INTERVIEW] CNN executive: Korea a 'role model'

2007/10/17 | Permalink | Source

Korea, which has grown into "the world's technology hub and a giant incubator for futuristic technology", is a fascinating country that the world has much to learn from, said Debra Kocher, vice president of CNN International.

"The progress that South Korea has made in (the past) 30 years is extraordinary", she said in an interview with The Korea Herald on Monday.

"I think I heard the figure that 30 years ago the average per capita income (of Korea) was $85 (per month). That kind of change, becoming an industrial country and now technology driven country, it is something worth noting for the rest of the world and perhaps it is a role model for other countries", she said.

Kocher is now in Seoul to supervise "Eye on South Korea", CNN's weeklong special program to bring in-depth reports on the country to more than 220 million households around the world. The program, which began airing last weekend, features live reporting from different locations in Seoul and a series of exclusive interviews with top Korean celebrities. The list of interviewees includes actress Jeon Do-yeon, this year's best actress at the Cannes Film Festival; Jang Dong-gun, a movie actor and one of the Korean Wave stars; Choi Kyung-joo (also known as KJ Choi), a successful Korean golfer in the PGA tour; and Nelson Shin, a pioneering animator in the country. The special coverage program runs through Oct. 21.

Asked whether the network plans to air its programs with Korean language dubbing, Kocher said CNN will abide by current Korean laws that block the re-airing of foreign TV news programs with Korean language dubbing to protect the domestic television production market and to prevent a foreign news network from influencing local public opinion.

"We are not going to break any of the government laws. I know that is the one of rules here. And CNN would never do that", she said.

There have been reports that CNN plans to launch a Korean-language broadcast here in a joint venture with a local media firm. The talk began early this year when the United States asked Korea to open its broadcasting sector during negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement.

Kocher said the network sees enough opportunities in the Korean market.

"I am sure we will be interested in looking at the opportunity here. I think it is great audience for us and we'd have to see when the laws change if that is the great opportunities for us", she said.

Kocher joined CNN in 1982 as an intern and became a production assistant the following year.

Her extensive business news experience has helped the network expand its financial coverage around the world. She has launched and created several business news shows which include the long-running program, "World Business Today".

Currently, she also holds the position of executive producer of the network's weeklong "Eye on" series and "CNN Connect", which showcases the world's top political and business leaders.

"As a journalist, being curious is the most important character to have in a part of your personality. I think that, for me as a professional, it helps me a lot. As a person, it introduces me to interesting people and interesting places", she said. "It really opens up your world to a lot of possibility and other people".

Asked to comment on the on-going confrontation between journalists and government in Seoul over the controversial "press reform", Kocher said she believes in free press.

"Any democracy, I would say, has nothing to fear from the free press. CNN, of course, stands for and supports the free press in all countries. CNN is in favor of free and fair press", she said.

By Cho Chung-un

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