How We Got into Korean Radio ft. Mark Wilson
When it comes to Korean entertainment, the first thing that pops into most peoples’ minds is probably KPOP – the music scene. Then, there’s the dramas. Next, it’s the movies. Then, there’s TV.
But it’s not the only option out there for people trying to break into the entertainment industry in Korea.
I’ve been doing radio for about 5 years now in Korea, and it’s been an exciting – yet somehow relaxing – experience. There’s a lot that goes into doing radio as a career in Korea, so let’s break it down.
First things first: Visa. Visa. Visa. Get the f-visa. If you don’t have the F-visa, stop what you’re doing now and figure out how to do it. I think Skycedi is coming out with a video about that soon (I might be making an appearance.^^)
Second: if you don’t have patience, it’s not the industry for you. Turnover in Korean radio is rare. There are a couple of reasons for this. Number one, there aren’t that many English radio stations in Korea. Number two, a lot of the radio hosts with a decent amount of experience in the ecosystem. How do you overcome it? You have two options. You can be a celebrity. Or you can work hard, keep showing up to work on time, do your best, and wait your turn. Patience is key. I know a lot of people who got fed up because they didn’t get their own show fast enough and quit too soon.
Last, but not least, you need some sort of connections. All it might take is reaching out to the right people on Instagram or showing up to networking parties. Just do it. Don’t overextend your network, be too nice to everyone, but then not have enough time to have a meaningful relationship. But find people who you share common ambitions with. I became friends with GP (the guy who introduced me to my second radio job) before either of us started working in radio.
So what are your options when it comes to radio in Korea?
There’s Arirang, which is English but you should have a deeper understanding (AND appreciation) of Korean culture if you want to be taken seriously there. There’s tbs eFM, which has a decent number of shows, and you don’t need as much Korean language skills to work there (most of the eFM side producers, writers, and other staff speak great English. Then, there’s EBS – and since you at least need to understand Korean pretty well to be on air, it’s a bit more difficult to manage. The other option is KBS WORLD Radio, but I haven’t worked there, so I can’t comment much on that – I know a lot of people who have worked there, and it seems ok from the outside.
I’ve had great experiences in Korean radio with all the stations I mentioned above. Hopefully, this little blog post will help you get started on your path to radio, keep you motivated, or at least help you decide if it’s the right choice for you.
Hopefully that helps.
All the best,
~ Alex ~