“Politicians are consuming feminism like ‘Voldemort’ who shouldn’t be mentioned”

Three years ago, I heard a lecture about the ‘new newsletter’ from a young college student in their 20s with about 10 senior journalists from newspapers and broadcasting. At that time, the speaker was Newnik’s CEO Kim So-yeon. Born in 1994, CEO Kim founded New NEEK, a startup that delivers current affairs news by e-mail, in December 2018 to break the prejudice that ‘these days, young people don’t watch the news and don’t worry about it’. Newnik, which started with 200 readers, now delivers a daily morning newsletter to 400,000 people. The majority of readers are in their 2030s. When I told CEO Kim, ‘I heard a lecture three years ago,’ he doesn’t seem to remember very well. I thought that I had been very busy with my work for the past three years. On the morning of the 6th, when CEO Kim was interviewed, the headline of the Newnik Newsletter was ‘Dissolution of the people’s power predecessor – this drama is a mess these days’. We asked Kim how the younger generation these days view politics, elections and political news.

New NEEK CEO Kim So-yeon is interviewing at the office in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul on the morning of the 6th. By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter [email protected]

Park Chan-soo waiting pcs@hani.co.kr

Park Chan-soo waiting [email protected]

― How many employees do you have now? “A little over 20, 22.” ― When you first started your business, there were two people, right? “Yes. Me and my friend did it together. I grew up a lot when I think about it. (Laughs)” ― Did you say that you were inspired to start Newnik when you did an internship in the US in 2017? “Yes. I did an internship in Washington for a while, and since it’s the world’s political capital, people talk about the news a lot. At first, I watched the news on the subway and TV news, but there is a language barrier and I do not know the history of American politics, so it was very difficult to follow. At that time, my boss introduced me to several newsletters, including . Looking at it, I thought, ah, if something like this exists in Korea, busy friends can talk about the news at lunchtime and stay connected with the world. So, as soon as I returned home, I immediately started a business with a friend (former Chief Operating Officer Bin Da-eun).” ― Newnik does not directly cover the article, but delivers it to the reader through a kind of curation. Does Newnick care about political neutrality? How do you try to achieve political neutrality? “That part is very difficult, but of course we pay attention. Rather than calling ourselves a press, we think that our role is to curate and tell stories about meaningful articles and the world, and we are providing such a knowledge service. There are many people who listen to the world news through us, so there is a clear sense of responsibility that comes from that. There are several internal mechanisms for maintaining political neutrality. One is that it is not a system in which an editor writes and uploads articles alone, and it is not a vertical desking structure like existing media companies, but there is a system that allows editors to check each other. When someone writes an article, an editor who is not intentionally exposed to the issue reads it and checks whether it feels biased. There is a system that can check horizontally.” ― Do you check all articles that way? “Yes. That’s right. If part 1 writes an article, part 2 is the reader, and that’s always a set. There is a checklist that I must check when reading articles written by that person, and some of them include items to keep neutrality. And when we send out our newsletter, we receive hundreds of feedbacks and thousands of feedbacks at times. We try to strike a balance.” ― Some of the feedback may be pointed out that the facts are wrong. When you receive such a point, do you send a separate correction email just like a newspaper publishes a correction article? “Not many, but there have been times. We also provide correction information, and sometimes we send it out in the newsletter the next day, or we send an email again when it’s urgent.”

Newnik CEO Kim So-yeon plays table tennis at the office in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul on the 6th.  By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter chang@hani.co.kr

Newnik CEO Kim So-yeon plays table tennis at the office in Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul on the 6th. By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter [email protected]

― I read an interview article that said, ‘It is a prejudice to say that young people these days do not watch the news and do not worry about it. I wanted to challenge that prejudice.’ In the opinion of CEO Kim, how do the young generation these days, the so-called MZ generation, view the news? How do older generations have different attitudes or views on news? “I think that the need for news is also felt by the younger generation, but it seems that there is some difficulty in consuming the existing news because we are accustomed to consuming content centered on social media (SNS), especially images and videos, than before. The news that the MG generation prefers is a little different from the news that the previous generation prefers, but they prefer easy, fun, and immediate responses. In that respect, there is a clear difference between the older generation and the older generation in their attitude to the news. It seems that the older generation felt a certain sense of duty to sit in front of the TV and watch the news at 8 or 9 pm, and as a citizen, they seemed to have a sense of responsibility to watch the major news of our society. There are more cosmopolitan perceptions than concepts, and since I receive news mainly through individual social media such as SNS rather than mass media such as TV, I think there is much less sense of duty or responsibility. You see the news as one of the contents such as sports and dramas, so I think it is the first generation to bring the same standards to the news as it is for various contents, which are quickly returned if it is not fun or boring. In fact, news must have been difficult in the past, it must have been difficult, but these days, without any sense of obligation, the standard that we apply to other content is brought to the news as it is, so I think we are the generation who feel the difference and speak up.” ― These days, it is the presidential election, are the younger generations interested in political news? “Since this is the presidential election, I can feel that interest is higher than before. We deal with a lot of major political issues because our role is to pick out what the younger generation wants to know but find it too difficult or too complicated to make it easy for them. Even in the morning newsletter today (the 6th), it was introduced with the title, ‘These days, the power drama of the people is uproar’, comparing it to a drama starring three people, Yoon Seok-yeol, Lee Jun-seok, and Kim Jong-in. But what I feel around me is that the older generation still talks a lot more about the presidential election than the MG generation when they have lunch. If you think about why, the MG generation may actually consume less political news, but I think they are deliberately careful to avoid conflict because it is inconvenient to fight or feud over political issues.” ― I heard that Newnik aims to deliver hard news (hard news) such as politics, economy, and international affairs in an easy and friendly way, not soft news like sports or entertainment. In fact, it is not easy to do it well in traditional media such as newspapers and broadcasting. How is Newnik’s goal of ‘easy and friendly’ different from that of traditional media? “If you think about traditional news, doesn’t breaking news keep pouring out every hour of the day, so you can only see a small part of an event and have to keep following it to get the full context. And I think the younger generation felt that it was difficult and unkind because they only see one news from one media company, so they had to watch the news from another media company again. We do not focus on delivering the issue as quickly as possible, but when the situation is settled to a certain extent, let’s deliver it in an understandable way, and when one side says this, the other side says so. .”

By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter chang@hani.co.kr

By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter [email protected]

― Do you think that traditional media such as newspapers and broadcasting show too much political orientation? “It is very difficult to say, but I think that is one of the factors that makes it difficult for the younger generation to access established media. When a friend of my age asks me ‘I look at the newspaper these days’ and ‘what do you see’, you can say ‘Look at the Hankyoreh’ or ‘Look at the Chosun Ilbo’. It’s too revealing of your disposition. So, I think there is a phenomenon in which we have to say something like, ‘I see the Hankyoreh, but I also see Chosun sometimes’, so that it is not a burden to each other.” ― The older generation is not too reluctant to reveal their political orientation, and in that respect, it seems to be different from the younger generation. Kim was selected as a national interview panel in the Democratic Party’s presidential primary in July of last year, but then resigned on his own. I am curious about how you were selected as an interview panel at that time and why you quit. “Actually, it was a happening. I got a proposal like that (the Democratic Party) because they thought I had some representation of the MG generation, and I replied, “I’ll review it a bit,” and later said, ‘I have to focus on my business, so it will be difficult for a specific party panel.’ But I think the timing wasn’t right, because it coincided with the time when accountant Kim Kyung-yul (the author) was selected for the national interview panel and quit. So I was a little embarrassed.” ― Did you not hear criticism from readers because of this happening? “I received a letter of protest from a reader, but what was surprising was that people who saw Newnik were called Newnikers, and the protests were not severe because Newnikers had a basic belief in Newnik. It was inflated by external media consumption, but our readers did not take it seriously. Anyway, it was something to be wary of, and I thought I should be more careful.” ― It seems that there has never been a time when the votes for the 2030 generation were as popular as these days. Why do you think the younger generation is receiving so much political attention? Are the younger generations interested in elections as much as they are getting political attention? “Traditionally, the generation that is more interested in politics is probably more than middle-aged people in their 40s and 50s, but that generation has roughly divided votes. I think that he is receiving more political attention because he has a strong personality. In fact, I think the younger generation is very interested in everyday politics. I am very sensitive and demanding ‘fairness’ to such daily things as the entrance exam or company recruitment process that touches my skin, but I don’t think I talk about politics in the National Assembly or the Blue House that often. ― In this respect, criticism that ‘fairness and justice’, which the young generation considers very important, is not the fairness that I feel, that is, fairness and justice at the individual level, or rather close our eyes to inequality and social fairness in society as a whole. Not a lot. One such case might be the case of the ‘Incheon International Airport Corporation’ (Incheon International Airport Corporation), which opposes the conversion of non-regular workers to full-time positions. What do you think? “I also think that there are some aspects of it, but I think that it is also a problem caused by the too big social issue of a job in the end. As it is often said, there are only a few chairs to sit on, so I have to focus on the most personal and microscopic politics, and in fact, it needs to be resolved, that is, if I can make a living, I can afford to think about social issues. It is a bit sad in that respect, and it is regrettable that the MG generation is divided into those who are more actively concerned about social issues and those who do not.”

By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter chang@hani.co.kr

By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter [email protected]

― Lee Jun-seok, representative of the People’s Power, is of media interest. As a young politician, how do you rate CEO Jun-seok Lee? ‘It is exaggerated to say that Lee Jun-seok represents 2030’, said Yun Seok-yeol, candidates from the camp. Do you agree with this evaluation? “Until now, there was no 2030 at the core of the political circle, but there was one, so it is representative in that respect. To become such a young person as a representative of the People’s Power was something that surprised everyone, even if it wasn’t for the opposition, and I think there was definitely an encouraging aspect in that regard. What established politicians are saying is very different from my interests, and it is difficult to get interest if you don’t listen carefully, but since this CEO is my age, I can hear his voice clearly because he knows what the MG generation is interested in. However, even if it was an unusual event in the power of the people or an unusual event in the established political circles, if you turn your eyes and look at the entire 2030s outside, it is another story to say whether CEO Lee Jun-seok is truly a representative person. There seems to be a certain group of people who agree with what CEO Lee Jun-seok is saying, and there are clearly others who do not. In the long run, I wonder if this representative will have to show another inclusive leadership to gain representation across the 2030s.” ― There have been some differences in the political preferences of men and women in every generation, but I don’t think there has been a generation in which the political orientation or preferences of men and women differ as much as in their twenties these days. Why? As many politicians say, is feminism really the key criterion for determining the political orientation of men and women in their 20s? “Actually, gender discrimination and opposition to patriarchy have been around for a long time, but as major incidents such as the ‘Me Too movement’ occurred around the world and incidents such as the ‘Gangnam Station Murder Case’ and the ‘N (N) Room Incident’ occurred in Korea, the problems that were covered I think it was made visible in the last few years. However, I think there is still some good agreement on how we should look at it after such an issue has arisen. If you look at how far social discussions and consensus on feminism have progressed, especially in the political world, they are being consumed like ‘Voldemort’, which should not be mentioned. It is very unfortunate that any conflict or friction at the bottom, or any attempt to change something, was taken in a way that inflated or misunderstood, without any discussion or agreement on how to view this and what method we would take. . While watching this presidential election, some criticize the candidates that they are distancing themselves from feminism in order to win the votes of the so-called ‘Lee Dae-nam’. I am a little concerned about receiving such criticism. There are many cases where youth issues do not cover all youth issues. In the case of the last presidential election, President Moon Jae-in directly mentioned that he was a feminist president and it had the effect of drawing a response, so I don’t think there was that much misunderstanding as it is now. But right now, it seems like it shouldn’t be mentioned, and the more we ignore it, the more applause it seems, so if we aim for equality and put down the evil of patriarchy, I hope that there will be a leadership who courageously speaks out about that. .”

By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter chang@hani.co.kr

By Kang Chang-gwang, senior staff reporter [email protected]

― These days, many people say that you should challenge yourself to start a business in your 20s. You started a startup called Newnik at the age of 25, but what is it like to actually start a startup in your 20s? “By the way, I think it would be good for more people to jump into the business, but I think I was very lucky. I was from Seoul National University, and I was not in a situation where I had to support my family right away, and I had the freedom to do something else if this failed, so I took on the challenge in a very stable environment. If you read a book about startups, it is said that wealthy children who grew up in good environments around the world take on more challenges and have more chances of success. I’m a bit sad about that. I am not telling you to start a business blindly, but you need to create a foundation to overcome when you fail after trying. We need such a financial safety net, and equally important is that even if a business fails in their 20s, they do not see it as a failure, but as an experience. .” ― In the new year, what kind of business or content is Nunik promoting the most? “The most important thing is that we have a new challenge ahead of us: applications. Going beyond the newsletter we receive every morning, we plan to create a community where readers can discuss with each other, where they can access Newnik anytime through an app on their mobile phone. We plan to release the app in January, and in terms of content, we plan to expand the scope to include surveys (opinion polls), environment, culture, and life beyond dealing with current affairs.” Waiting [email protected]


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