SEOUL – Photographers shoot photographers and reporters interview reporters. A media center for Friday’s inter-Korean summit is booming, 30 kilometers away from the venue of the leaders’ meeting.
South Korea is also seeing this summit as a window of opportunity to brag about its high level of information technology, showcasing many virtual reality and three-dimensional devices.
But some foreign journalists, who visited South Korea in an attempt to directly take footage of the historic moment at the summit venue, said they feel worthless to stay at a place where journalists only sit down and wait for official announcements to come.
At the media center located at the Korea International Exhibition Center, known as KINTEX, scenes at the border village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone are being broadcast live on big LED screens.
An experience zone of the fifth-generation wireless system is set up, allowing reporters to watch, using 3-D virtual reality goggles, footage of a meeting room at the Peace House, a South Korea-controlled building at the truce village.
“We believe that this is a good chance to introduce our country’s state-of-the-art technology to foreign media,” a South Korean female guide said.
The media center in Goyang, 45 minutes away by car from the center of Seoul, can accommodate up to 3,000 media personnel, both from South Korean and abroad.
As of Wednesday, more than 2,800 journalists from 41 countries and regions applied for registration to use the press center for the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, according to the presidential office.
At the inter-Korean summits in 2000 and 2007, both of which were held in Pyongyang, around 1,300 media personnel registered for them.
For Muslim people, a prayer room is installed at the media center. At a cafeteria there, waiters and waitresses, clad in black aprons, are serving coffee, tea, water and juice, as well as salads and sandwiches made on the spot.
Near the cafeteria, glasses-free 3-D televisions using depth perception technology are placed, showing forest, river, lake, and mountain scenery. There is also a place where journalists can take ceremonial photos with a smartphone, immediately printed out.
On the side of the large-scale briefing room, blue banners with the summit’s slogan, “Peace, A New Start,” are displayed. Another room is set aside for political and foreign affairs experts to hold panel discussions for journalists.
“This is the biggest-scale media center that the government has set up,” Kim Jeong-beom, a reporter of South Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper, told Kyodo News. “This suggests that the government is very eager to report the summit globally.”
Moon’s administration has also opened a website to provide journalists with summit-related information, data and comments by South Korean officials.
Some foreigners, however, expressed dissatisfaction with South Korea’s media arrangements, as Moon’s government allows only limited reporters and photographers to cover the summit at Panmunjom, a military security zone.
“A lot of journalists would like to be at Panmunjom,” but Peace House is “not a facility where (the South Korean government) can put everyone inside,” Franklin Smith, a Canadian freelance journalist, told Kyodo News.
Noting that he is putting more emphasis on getting reactions from South Korean citizens than on collecting government information through watching the oversized LED screens, “Being here at the media center is not really all that interesting,” he said.