My First Year as Honorary Reporter

Hi, everyone. My name is Rijo Tobing and I’m a new Honorary Reporter from Indonesia. This will be my first year as Honorary Reporter and I am super excited to contribute to introducing the Korean culture to my fellow citizens of Indonesia and to people of the world.

First of all, I’m a fan of K-Drama since 2016. My best friend who lives in Japan made me watch the popular K-Drama “Descendants of the Sun” at that time because she was a big fan of the lead actors.

I was instantly hooked. As an avid fan of movies and serials made by Hollywood, I didn’t know that K-Drama could be that good. Above and beyond my expectations, actually.

The quality of the script, the uniqueness of the premise, the dynamics of the plot, and the acting made me want to watch more and more titles as the years go by. I can say now that K-Drama has been an integral part of my life.

As you may know, K-Drama draws many criticisms from many countries and many cultures. Many people say that watching K-Drama is time-consuming and is making you unproductive throughout your days.

I beg to differ.

Time management is a personal matter. It has nothingto do with particular hobby and/or interest, and it has everything to do with one’s scale of priorities.

We choose which activity we want to do or stop doing in our life. Be it K-Drama, or music, or art, or sport, or anything else are only options we have the liberty to pick up or leave off during our time. It all depends on what we deem as important, necessary, useful, etc.

My main occupation is a furniture designer, but I’m also a published author. I have published two novels, two collections of short stories, and one collection of essays. Three of the books of I wrote are in English and the rest are in Indonesian.

As a writer, I have a keen interest in literature. I have been writing short stories since I was six years old, about three decades ago. Therefore, reading and writing are more than a mere literacy or competence for me. It’s a part of my character, a part of who I am as human being.

In my opinion, every writer is like a vessel carrying the “water” of knowledge. He has to receive “water” to channel that “water” to somewhere else. A writer has to keep his vessel full to be useful for others.

At the end of last year, the community I co-founded named Drakor Class was invited by Korean Cultural Center Indonesia to discuss K-Drama through webinar. I will write about that event in another article, please looking forward to it.

As for this article, I’d like to show you a diagram I made for the webinar. I prepared this “Fiction Writer Diagram” to show how K-Drama can assist a fiction writer in filling up his vessel so he can write more broadly and richly.

Fiction Writer Diagram

The shape of the triangle on the right is to represent the vessel analogy for a fiction writer’s creative process. A fiction writer is a vessel accepting knowledge from two sources (reading and watching) in order to channel that knowledge into one end goal (writing).

A fiction writer can only write as much as he reads and watches.

Through reading (fiction, nonfiction, essay, etc.), a fiction writer learns how other writers create the ideas, the lives, the movements, and the scenes in their minds and translate them into words.

Through watching (movies, serials, dramas, etc.), a fiction writer learns how words (in the form of script) are brought out to life by acting.

A fiction writer who doesn’t do sufficient reading and watching will be lacking materials to write. He might be passionate about writing, but without reading and watching as a continuous practice, he will have difficulties in transforming that passion into skill, and later on into mastery.

The back-and-forth arrows between the “Reading” and “Watching” activities are to indicate that on many occasions we watch a book adapted into movie, or vice versa. There are several ways for a fiction writer to maximize these two activities in order to fill up his vessel.

The one-direction arrows from “Reading” and “Watching” activities are to indicate that the main end goal of those two elements is to encourage a fiction writer to write, and nothing else.

As a fiction writer myself, I include K-Drama in the “Watching” activity as a part of my learning process. Watching K-Drama is much more than only entertainment. Personally, it teaches me three things:

  1. how to create strong characters,
  2. how to divide scenes, and
  3. how to exercise correct zooming in and zooming out on a scene.

Apart from helping me to improve as a fiction writer, K-Drama is also a window for me to look at and learn about the Korean culture. I have lived in Japan and Switzerland for several years and I immensely enjoyed learning about languages and cultures other than my own.

When I first applied for the Honorary Reporter program, I didn’t have any expectation. I knew I wanted to write about Korea. Eighty percent of the articles on my blog (rijotobing.wordpress.com) is related to Korea, be it Korean drama, food, sport, music, and culture in general. However, I was very vague about the requirements I needed to meet to pass the selection.

For the first round of selection, I sent two articles about taekwondo and Haeundae Beach in Busan, South Korea.

Taekwondo is a Korean sport that I and my two children do. My eldest is a black belt holder, while I and my other kid hold blue belts. Over the past decade I had stayed four times in hotels right on the Haeundae Beach because I accompanied my husband for his business trips to Busan. I wrote these articles passionately with all my heart and to the best of my knowledge.

In early April I received an email that I made it to the second round of selection. I was over the moon and I wasted no time to write the structures of my articles, should I have been accepted as 2021 Honorary Reporter.

As I have mentioned earlier, I’m enthused to write about K-Drama and Korean culture. Within one day I wrote an essay about the Korean cultural elements depicted in K-Drama, and how I plan to elaborate those elements in articles to bring recognition and understanding of K-Culture to other nations. I sent the essay and totally forgot about it, preventing myself from being hopeful at all.

On May 13, 2021 I received an email from the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) with a certificate of appointment as one of the 2021 Honorary Reporters. I was beyond ecstatic and I felt very honored to be chosen by the Korean Culture and Information Service (KOCIS) of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

On May 20, 2021 I attended the Induction Ceremony for 2021 Honorary Reporters and  K-Influencers virtually on the YouTube Channel of Koreanet (see the picture at the beginning of this article).

I was very moved when I learned that the First Lady of Republic of Korea, Mrs. Kim Jung Sook, the second Vice Minister of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, Mr. Kim Jeong Bae, and the director of Korean Culture and Information Service, Mr. Park Jung Youl attended the ceremony to welcome us and give us support in performing our appointed roles. Their presence, warm welcome, and encouragement motivate me to do my very best during my assignment.

As the First Lady Mrs. Kim Jung Sook said herself:

“The slogan of today’s ceremony (the induction ceremony) is “Fill in Your Korea”. “Fill in” means both filling and informing about something in a detailed manner. A single line of your article, a single photo you take, and a single scene from your video can and will deliver courage and hope to the world. As the messengers of hope, you will help the world to communicate and unite.”

As an Honorary Reporter, I am looking forward to filling in my Korea through watching K-Drama, learning and sharing the elements of K-Culture conveyed by it.

Come and join my journey.

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