Published in November 2013 in Groove Korea
One of Groove Korea’s most difficult times in recent months involved Matt Lamers telling me to get lost.
The editor-in-chief and I were arguing over the editing on a feature I had been writing for tireless months, and that he had spent days revising. We both wanted the perfect story but we didn’t agree on how to get there. There were strong words, bruised egos and, at one point, threats of scrapping the project altogether.
After a year of dedication to the magazine, I almost did take his suggestion to get lost. But that month, everything that could go wrong did. After putting off the story and having plans B and C fall through, not to mention turmoil in our respective personal lives, we found ourselves back at square one. I could have left and given up, but I knew we both believed that the story was too important not to finish.
The task at hand had us holed up in the office until 1 a.m. on a weeknight. It was cold and raining, and we were sleep-deprived and miserable. We were both at our weakest, yet we had no choice but to stick it out and work together to close the issue. The end result was “Is Korea’s EFL education failing?” (March 2013), which became one of our most representative cover stories and, with a lot of help, one of my personal best.
Our perseverance marked a turning point in our working relationship. What could have shattered our trust in each other ended up reinforcing it, as we mutually understood that we both would not, could not give up on our mission. And in the following months, this team has produced some of our proudest work.
The episode reminded me that if you want the best, it is impossible to attain it alone. And that’s what Matt brought out of his team: His vision for the highest standards of journalism and truly thought-provoking content pushed us to achieve things together that we didn’t realize were possible, which in turn inspired us to push our own writers even more.
We also learned to push our readers to consider ideas that, to our knowledge, have gone largely ignored by other English-language publications: We have covered Korea’s stressed masses, its xenophobic media and its teen suicide epidemic. We have argued that Korea must change its discriminatory AIDS testing policies for foreign teachers, and we have spotlighted Korea’s need to put aside any nationalistic strife to help its easterly neighbor in times of devastation, as well as Japan’s own obligation to atone for its wartime sex slavery.
Seven years ago, Groove’s covers featured cupcakes and puppies, as long-time readers can attest. We’ve come a long way since then, and we aren’t stopping there. This month, writer Anita McKay dives into the world of migrant marriage brokering, and the respected news provider Daily NK has joined forces with Groove to reveal to our readers the secrets and truths of the elusive North Korea.
With the solid foundation that Groove has established over Matt’s 31 issues at the helm, I believe the best is not behind us. Our team has more ambition than ever to stand as the best publication in Korea.
To achieve this goal, we have brought on media veteran Craig White, who cofounded Daegu Pockets magazine and launched the regional newspaper InDaegu, and who sought to put Korea at the fingertips of every English speaker through the wiki portal Galbijim. As our new executive director, Craig brings his diverse experience to our team and his visions for a Groove that is bigger than just a magazine. On top of him helping to expand our presence in the community both offline and online, his ambitions to enhance the Groove name from a single publication to a wide-ranging media group will hopefully steer us toward a brighter, more prosperous future.
That means you will see within our pages and on our website several new features over the next few months as we adapt to the changes in both the media and the market. But whatever those changes are, our essence will remain the same, and we will do all we can to continue Groove Korea’s two-fold purpose: to pursue journalism of the highest integrity and to share with our readers the good, the bad and everything in between of the Korea that we have come to know and love.
On behalf of all the editors of Groove Korea, past and present, I thank you for your continued support. We hope that you will continue to stand with us in the years to come.