Saturday, March 19, 2005

One other thing . . .

There's one in every crowd, so there was also one at Korea University's Nobel Laureate Lecture Series presentation on Thursday.

After the first three queries in the question-and-answer session following McFadden's talk on economics, Professor Jae Chun Hyun intervened in his role as moderator to request that we not expend time on thanks and introductions but that we keep our remarks short and in question form only.

The very next person given a microphone and recognized to speak said:

"Thank you, Professor McFadden . . . for a very interesting talk. Quite interesting. I am a student here . . . at Korea University, a student in the graduate school. Actually, I am not just a student. In addition to being a student, I am also working . . . at a job. I am a journalist. I noticed that you were interviewed by the Chosun Ilbo. Well . . . the Chosun is a . . . sort of newspaper . . . that has a particular . . . point of view. You might want to express yourself . . . in a different interview. So, what I want to ask . . . is if you would be willing to give me 15 minutes of your time . . . after this session . . . for an interview. I work for a different newspaper. . . . Would you be willing to do this?"

This is my summary of the man's statement. In reality, he must have used two to three times as many words as what you see above -- and he didn't speak at a particularly quick pace, either. Indeed, one might call the pace . . . leisurely. A slow, languid, linguistic stroll.

And, technically, the fellow did not pose a question. He made a request.

Professor McFadden responded with courtesy but noted that his schedule was not his own since he was a guest of Korea University and that any time for an interview would depend upon KU's timetable. He then turned to Professor Hyun, who must have been making a superhuman effort to control his annoyance at the journalist.

Hyun's response: "Next question." Not quite in so few words, but essentially that -- and properly so.

I assume that the fellow was a reporter for a left-leaning newspaper such as Hankyoreh or OhmyNews and that his reference to the Chosun Ilbo interview was a subtle criticism of the organizers for limiting interview time to a single, conservative paper. His implicit criticism might or might not be on target (I know nothing of the interview arrangements), but he chose the worst possible moment to make his point and request an interview.


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