Sohn Jie-ae, who was the Seoul bureau chief for CNN for more than 15 years, says her new job as spokesperson for the G20 Seoul Summit makes her nervous. It's not speaking in front of other people, it's because her new role means she is swapping roles from interviewer to interviewee.
"After becoming the spokesperson, I've been studying economics so hard that my eyesight has gotten worse," Sohn said.
It was in February that she decided to move on to a new career as a government spokesperson for the G20 summit. Some thought she had political ambitions. "CNN is an international media agency and the top priority in covering South Korea was North Korea," she said. "I was the Seoul correspondent, but I was virtually in charge of covering North Korea. It was all about the nuclear issue or Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il or Kim Jong-un. The job was comfortable, but it became routine."
Instead, she says she chose to become a spokesperson because there were more things South Korea has to show to the world. "The economy grew 650-fold since the Korean War 60 years ago," Sohn said. "Not only is its economic growth newsworthy, its mistakes are also worthy of coverage."
When asked whether South Korea, which is the host country of the G20 Summit in November, is making itself heard on the international stage, Sohn cited the relationship between Seoul and the International Monetary Fund. "Just 10 years ago, Korea had to turn to the IMF for emergency loans, but now it is actually leading reforms within the fund," Sohn said. "The IMF, World Bank and other international agencies are reporting their agendas to Korea first, which is the host nation, in order to have their opinions heard at the G20 Summit."
She said Korea is gathering opinions about major global issues and is spearheading them to produce new policies or change existing ones, which can be an invaluable experience. The G20 Summit will enable the country to "demonstrate its leadership ability to the world," she said. "Aside from economic benefits, the G20 Summit will be a chance for Korea to going international recognition."