Photo: Welcoming Ceremony at the Blue House for Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, April 29, 2019. Credit: Cheong Wa Dae Presidential Security Service (eng.pss.go.kr/) Hyoja Studio(open.pss.go.kr)
Quick - try and name two recent political leaders of Great Britain. If you are a decently informed person who regularly reads the newspaper, you wouldn't have much difficulty giving names like, say, Boris Johnson, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbin. Chances are, you wouldn't have much difficulty doing the same with France or Germany. Even if you're stumped, a quick Google search would give you the basic profile and the political stance of, say, Germany's Alice Weidel and the AfD.
Now, can you do the same with South Korea? As of this writing, President Moon Jae-in is famous enough - but who is his counterpart in the opposition? Google won't help either: try searching for Kim Jong-in, the current leader of the conservative United Future Party, and all you will get is pages upon pages of a K-pop idol with the same name. If you are limited to the English language web, you will never be able to learn about one of Korea's most important political leaders, a fascinating operator who smoothly navigated from dictatorship to democracy, from center-right to center-left to center-right again.
This deficiency is staggering. South Korea is among the most important countries in the world. It is both populous and wealthy: South Korea is one of only seven countries in the world - along with United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Japan - that has both over 50 million in population and per capita GDP of USD 30,000 or more. It is located in East Asia, the world's most important region whose dynamics will set the course of this century and the next. South Korea is the bulwark of liberal democracy, facing off North Korea and China. Korea's economy is highly sophisticated and future-oriented, as its corporations are among the leaders of the next generation of technology. South Korea's pop culture products are sweeping the world, creating an entirely new dynamic of global pop culture.
Yet you cannot find the most basic information about South Korean politics in the English speaking web. What little coverage that the Anglophonic media devotes to Korean politics is often oversimplified clickbaits. For those without background knowledge, wading through the few English language daily newspapers based in Korea quickly gets confusing. Even among experts and media focused on international affairs, South Korean politics is almost never covered as a topic on its own, but treated as a puzzle piece for a different topic like US strategy as to China or North Korea.
We started the Blue Roof to address this gaping hole of information. Our team is made up of journalists and writers based in Korea and the United States; we know what is happening in Korea on the ground level, and what the interested readers outside of Korea would want to know. Our newsletter, TBR Weekly Update, delivers South Korea's biggest political stories to your inbox. Our South Korean Politics Starter Kit gives a basic orientation of how to follow Korea's dynamic politics. Our posts introduce key players, summarize the latest events, flag emerging narratives, and identify the books and articles that are shaping the opinions of the South Korean public.
By reading the Blue Roof, you will see South Korean politics from inside out, just like the way Koreans see their own politics. Since we are just starting out, we are always willing to listen to how this site can be made better. Please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading.