Since Korea Exposé began in 2014, Korea’s perception abroad has been changing. From the increasing popularity of K-pop to momentous political events—not least the million-strong demonstrations against the previous president Park Geun-hye and renewed engagement with North Korea—many developments have served to put the spotlight on what was once considered a relatively minor part of East Asia.
Korea Exposé has benefited greatly from this growing interest in Korea. As a site that aims to tell real, informed stories about what is going on in the region—in English only—we drew traffic and attention. In 2017 we received financial investment in our operation and began producing more content, and this continued until spring of last year.
Then we have been more or less silent.
As our readers and followers on social media, you deserve an explanation. In short, the investment dried up. Throughout the rest of 2018, we tried to compensate for this lack by attempting business models that ranged from holding paid events, producing sponsored content, running journalism programs and doing government projects. We also approached potential investors. Some of our business models have been more successful than others, but unfortunately, as a small company, our team ended up spending more and more time and energy on trying to make the money that would pay for content production. Team members essentially burned out. The site has become moribund.
The big question on our mind since last summer has been whether to close the site permanently. It would hardly be the first time in the history of the internet for something like this to happen, and we feel that our mission—of telling better stories about Korea in English—has been served at least partly. And foreign media, although far from perfect, is doing more reporting about Korea.
In recent weeks, however, many passionate supporters of Korea Exposé approached us saying that closing the site is premature. When there is more interest in Korea than ever before, it is all the more important to keeping the project going—as long as some funding can be found.
So we are giving it one last go.
But after looking at other independent media projects similar to ours (Africa Is a Country, New Naratif, or Hong Kong Free Press), we are convinced that the only way to continue running a quality site about a specific of the world is through donation from readers. Although we have had a donation page on Patreon for some time, we did not invest heavily in drawing attention to it, nor did we manage it actively. This is about to change, especially since we will not pursue business projects in going forward.
We have been at work building up some content in the bank so that we can start bringing you more stories starting in April. Our team is also extremely grateful to the scholars who make up the Korean studies community both in and outside South Korea. They have offered to contribute regularly to the site and help strengthen the site’s reputation for expertise on all things Korean.
While donation may never reach the point of allowing us to do daily reporting and maintain a large team as before, we feel that it can allow us to have content in a timely way, offering insights into important issues as they unfold.
From you, our readers, of course we would appreciate donations, but also just attention and patience. Please continue to read and watch our content and offer feedback so that we can become a better site while overcoming the current challenge. Our team will share any new development mainly on our Patreon page. New contents on the site will, of course, be promoted on Facebook and Twitter as before, as well as on Patreon. Our Instagram account (photos) and Audioboom channel (podcast), also inactive for sometime, may soon close as we focus our attention only on two content formats: writing and video. Our YouTube channel will remain active and more videos will be uploaded.