Korean Mass Communication and Broadcasting

Mass communication and broadcasting together both lead and stand at the center of contemporary societies. With the rapid development of South Korea, its people were introduced to mass communication and broadcasting in the 20th century, especially during the post-colonial era. However, as the nation was a barren land in terms of the field in the first half of the 20th century, its enterprise, education, and experience were limited. In these circumstances, Boston University supported the change and development of South Korean mass communication and broadcasting. The relationship between Boston University and South Korean broadcasting can be explored by addressing two types of programs offered by the Boston University College of Communication; short term training and degree programs.

Short Term Training

The earliest contact between Boston University and Korean broadcasting was made by the United States Department of State. In 1956, the department organized a training program for mass communication and broadcasting in order to support the development of mass communication and broadcasting in third world countries.  South Korea was one of the countries and, therefore, select Koreans were invited and provided with opportunities to observe, learn, and experience the mass communication and broadcasting systems of the United States.[1] It was a great chance as there was a growing need for new training  in South Korea where resources and experienced professionals were scarce.

Boston University was the school that took the lead in this necessary training. While schools such as Syracuse University and others were involved in the program, Boston University’s interest continued for several years, including recruiting and receiving South Korean students for short-term training. Yun Gil-gu, Cho Nam-sa, and Han Ki-seon were the first South Koreans who benefited from the six-month program, from March to August in 1956. The training consisted of lectures by the faculty of Boston University, opportunity for hands on practice, observation, and visiting broadcasting companies.[2] It provided important insights to those South Koreans who, in turn, contributed to the development of South Korean broadcasting. This experience enabled them to continue their work and become key figures in South Korean broadcasting; among their number are the chief of the Korean Broadcasting Company in Busan, the first generation TV and Radio writers, and the best expert in acoustic systems in the country.

Before 1960, more than half a dozen Koreans including Noh Jeong-pal, Lee Yeong-gi, and Choe Chang-bong were trained at Boston University. Noh Jeong-pal recalls in his book, Korean Broadcasting and 50 years (Hangukbangsong gwa 50nyeon), that they were surprised by the spread of color TV, which had not yet arrived in Korea, and the commercialization of broadcasting.[3] It offered South Koreans a new view of broadcasting systems. When they went back to South Korea, the people mentioned above contributed to South Korean broadcasting and mass communication by helping to establish the Korean Broadcasting System Namsan Institute in 1957, writing and producing the first serial drama, Cheongsil Hongsil, and directing numerous TV and radio programs.[4]

Even though it has not been stated, the training and experience that they earned while at Boston University must have deeply affected their work and aided them in becoming leading figures in South Korea. Some of them even contributed to South Korean mass communication and broadcasting by becoming the chairman of the board of the Korean Broadcasting System, the president of Dong-Ah Broadcasting System and Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, and more. They were not enrolled in a degree program at Boston University, nonetheless, the training that Boston University supplied helped them to develop and make changes in mass communication and broadcasting in South Korea.


Short term training was not the only program that benefited the South Korean students who came to Boston University. The Boston University College of Communication accepted Kang Hyeon-du to a degree program. After earning his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Seoul National University he went to Boston as a master’s student in mass communication. After his graduation, he completed his doctoral program in mass communication at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. Based on his time studying in the United States, he became a scholar and professor in South Korea. He wrote journals and books related to mass communication in both English and Korean, including the books, The Hundred Years History of Korean Broadcasting (Uri BangSong 100nyeon) and New Media and Information Society (Nyumidieowa jungbosahoe). His primary work was educating student at the university level. For many years he taught at universities such as Hanyang University, Sogang University, and his alma mater, Seoul National University.[5] The resources and knowledges that he offered, brought from the United States, helped South Korean students to better learn and understand mass communication and broadcasting.

His influence broadened. The recognition of his ability, published work, and effort for education and the development of mass communication led him achieve to important positions. Kang served the Korean Digital Satellite Broadcasting Company (Skylife) as its president from 2001 to 2003. While working for the company, he was nominated as one of the 25 most influential people in the Asian TV industry by Cahners in Singapore.[6]

Won Wu-hyeon was another significant figure who engaged deeply with the scholarship of mass communication and broadcasting in South Korea as an alumnus of Boston University. He was born in 1942 and studied Law at Seoul National University before coming to Boston University for the first time as a master’s student. Even though studying in the United States as a foreigner was not easy, with the support of his advisor, Dr. George Gitter, Won completed both his master’s in 1971 and returned to Boston University for his doctoral degree in mass communication, which he finished in 1976.[7]

Boston not only provided him with education but also experience. After his graduation, he visited broadcasting and newspaper companies including the Boston Globe and the Christian Science Monitor. Moreover, he worked at the Hong Kong branch of the Boston Globe.[8] These experiences allowed him to engage with mass communication in the United States at a practical level and must have been an important resource when he went back to South Korea to teach and share what he learned in the United States.

His marital life also began when he was in Boston. Won married a pianist named Lee Bang-suk, who completed her bachelor’s degree in piano at Seoul National University and was studying at the New England Conservatory. She later became a professor at Yonsei University. Their marriage was held at the Korean Church of Boston and Pak Daeseon, who studied at Boston University School of Theology and later became the president of Yonsei University, officiated the wedding.[9] Not much about their Christian life was presented in documents but their faith was strong in their hearts as evidenced by their involvement in Christian communities and church activities, including sharing testimonies and giving lectures to young Christians in South Korea.

Like Kang, Won was actively involved in college education. Even before he finished his doctoral program, he taught at Kyung Hee University.[10] Furthermore, after moving from Boston to South Korea, he never stopped offering education to students at Korea University as a professor. He became the president of the Korean Society for Journalism and Communication Studies, the South Korean branch of the Asian Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), and the South Korean Public Relations Association. After his retirement from Korea University, he did not stop teaching and sharing, but transferred what he had been doing to Mongolia, where he founded the School of Media and Communication at Mongolia International University.[11] When he was in South Korea, he continued his relationship with Boston University and its alumni in South Korea and served the Boston University Alumni Association of South Korea as its president in 1996.[12]

At a crucial period for South Korean society, when people needed training, resources, and experience in mass communication and broadcasting, Boston University actively supported the development of Korean mass communication and broadcasting by holding training programs that benefited several South Koreans and educating South Korean students. The fact that many of these students went on to become leading figures of South Korean mass communication and broadcasting demonstrates how important and influential Boston was for South Korea.



[1] Changbong Choi, Bangsong gwa na (Broadcasting and Myself), (Seoul: Dong-A Ilbosa, 2010), 268.

[2] Jungpal Noh, Hangukbangsong gwa 50 nyeon (Korean Broadcasting and 50 years), (Paju: Nanam, 1995) 246.

[3] Ibid., 257-258.

[4] Ibid., 247.

[5] “Kang Hyeon-Dew seouldae kyosu KDB sajang naejung (Hyeon-Dew Kang had been nominated for the President of KDB),” Mail Business Newspaper, November 11, 2000, accessed July 16, 2016, http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=101&oid=009&aid=0000069507

[6] Sukyeong Kim, “Kang Hyeon-Dew Named as One of the Most Influential People in Asian TV Industry,” Dong-A Newspaper, March 11, 2002, accessed May 22, 2016,  http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=104&oid=020&aid=0000117666

[7] Woo-Hyun Won, “Na eu yuhak sijeol No. 9 (Study Abroad),” Mail Business Newspaper, April 09. 1985, accessed April 25, 2016, http://newslibrary.naver.com/viewer/index.nhn?articleId=1985040900099209010&editNo=1&printCount=1&publishDate=1985-04-09&officeId=00009&pageNo=9&printNo=5876&publishType=00020

[8] Won, “Na eu yuhak sijeol No. 8 (Study Abroad),” Mail Business Newspaper, April 08. 1985, accessed April 25, 2016, http://newslibrary.naver.com/viewer/index.nhn?articleId=1985040800099209009&editNo=1&printCount=1&publishDate=1985-04-08&officeId=00009&pageNo=9&printNo=5875&publishType=00020

[9] Won, “Na eu yuhak sijeol No. 9 (Study Abroad).”

[10] Ibid.

[11] Jangwon Hong, “Han midieo inpeurk Mongol hwaksan kkumkkwoyeo (I Dream to Spread and Establish the Infrastruture of Korean Media in Mongolia,” Mail Business Newspaper, August 30, 2016, accessed August 31, 2016, http://news.mk.co.kr/newsRead.php?no=615956&year=2016

[12] Sewon Kim, “Mi Boseuteondae Sliber chongjang Naehan hwanyeongyeon (Welcome Reception for John Silber, the Presdient of Boston University in the United States),” Dong-A Newspaper, November 28, 1995, accessed July 28, 2016, http://newslibrary.naver.com/viewer/index.nhn?articleId=1995112800209125003&editNo=45&printCount=1&publishDate=1995-11-28&officeId=00020&pageNo=25&printNo=23038&publishType=00010


Written by: Younghwa Kim

Edited by: Daryl Ireland