TBR's Most Read Stories of 2022, and a Special Thank You

The Blue Roof's had a successful second year.

TBR's Most Read Stories of 2022, and a Special Thank You

In its second full year, TBR added more than a thousand new subscribers while the open rate for the weekly newsletter climbed up. In its first year, our open rate was in the mid- to high 40s, a strong result. Then it got even better: in all of 2022, the open rate for our newsletters never fell below 50% - a wild success in an industry where the average open rate for newsletters is 17% and any open rate above 30% is considered excellent.

Meanwhile, TBR's Twitter account now has over 4,600 followers, and the TBR Discord (which you can join here), launched last year, has nearly 600 members engaged in interesting and active discussion about South Korean politics. TBR's coverage of South Korean politics often acts as a cue for larger international publications, with major outlets like the Washington Post and the Economist can often be seen giving further analysis on the angle that TBR presented first.

We are deeply thankful for all of this, and look forward to TBR's third year in 2023.

Here is the list of the most read stories of our website in 2022.

Most Read Articles of 2022

  1. Reparations for Sex Workers Serving US Military (October 21, 2022)

In a program reminiscent of Imperial Japan’s military sex slavery, South Korea’s right-wing dictatorship systematically operated the camp town sex trade in the 1950s and 60s, in which young women, displaced from the Korean War, were mobilized to serve the US military. This year, Supreme Court ordered reparations for human rights violations of the former sex workers, who were often detained and forced to undergo a medical regimen that killed or injured them.

2. Yoon Suk-yeol’s Difficult Relationship with the International Media (June 16, 2022)

South Korea's rising prominence in the international stage made Seoul's corps of international press grow in size and sophistication. This has not been a welcome development for the Yoon Suk-yeol administration, which has relied on retrograde tactics on media suppression. Yoon administration's rank misogyny also grates against the foreign correspondents in Seoul, majority of whom are women.

3.  Minimum Wage and How South Korea Avoided Japanization (July 29, 2022)

In 2018, South Korea's per capita GDP on PPP basis surpassed Japan's, marking the former's continuous growth in the past 30 years while the latter stagnated. The secret, argued Richard Katz, senior fellow of the Carnegie Council, was South Korea's aggressive hike of minimum wage. By raising minimum wage - especially during the Moon Jae-in administration under which the minimum wage rose by 41.6 from 2018 to 2022 - South Korea kept alive its domestic demand, making its economy more resilient when exports slowed.

4.  Most Favor BTS Military Exemption Except Current Soldiers: Poll (May 2, 2022)

The Beatles of the 21st century will always be headline news. As the world-beating septet was approaching hiatus while its members' military duty drew near, South Korea debated if BTS deserved an exemption as much as sports stars who would win the Olympic gold medal. Polls showed most favored such an exemption, except for the young men who are currently serving as conscripts.

5.  Paris Baguette Hunger Strike Ends After 53 Days (June 13, 2022)

In June, Paris Baguette's union leader Im Jong-rin ended his 53-day hunger strike, protesting the bakery chain's appalling labor conditions. In a 2018 survey, 80.7% of Paris Baguette bakers said they had to report to work despite being sick. Half of the company’s pregnant bakers, or seven out of 14, suffered from miscarriage in 2017. With the company unwilling to negotiate, consumers are beginning a boycott of Paris Baguette’s parent company SPC Group, whose other brands include South Korea’s outposts of Baskin Robbins and Dunkin’ Donuts.

Most Read Newsletter of 2022

Our Week 1, November 2022 edition was action-packed. North Korea fired a barrage of 30 missiles including a long-range rocket that flew over Japan. Just a week removed from the Itaewon Disaster that killed 158, the investigation showed thoroughgoing failures of the Yoon Suk-yeol administration to handle basic tasks of crowd safety, turning a routine Halloween festival into a mass casualty event with international repercussions. The Legoland Bond Crisis began spreading internationally, rocking the Asian bond market.

That's it for 2022! Many thanks from the TBR Team for being with us this year. See you in 2023.

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