A New Chapter

New faculty Assistant Professor Myojung Chung talks about her first year of teaching after making a career switch from a decade of industry practice.

Dr. Chung joined the school as an assistant professor last July, teaching modules in corporate communications and international public relations. PHOTO: JERLIN HUANG

Dr. Chung joined the school as an assistant professor last July, teaching modules in corporate communications and international public relations. PHOTO: JERLIN HUANG

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In her time as a journalist at South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency four years ago, one assignment stands out for Assistant Professor Myojung Chung from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information. 

It was minus 15 degrees Celsius in the country, and she had to endure the freezing cold while waiting in front of an interviewee’s home for more than 12 hours before eventually meeting him. 

“These things happen all the time for a journalist. All those fancy events are gone and this moment is just in my memory forever,” said Dr. Chung, who stayed with the news agency for six years before pursuing a doctorate in Mass Communication at Syracuse University in New York. She has also been writing columns for South Korean newspaper The Hankyoreh since 2008.

Armed with vast industry experience, Dr. Chung, who joined WKWSCI last July, now seeks to impart her knowledge to future communication professionals. 

“You feel very welcomed here. For instance, whenever I say I’m from Korea, people show genuine interest in the country and culture, and they have a very positive attitude.”

Dr. Myojung Chung

Having also worked as a public relations manager at South Korea’s SK Telecom prior to being a journalist, this is her first teaching position.

“The main part of being a reporter and PR manager is telling somebody else’s story. It was my childhood dream, but at some point I decided it was time for me to carve out my own story,” she said. 

As a teacher in corporate communications and international public relations, she hopes to help students connect their learning in the classroom to the realities of the working world.

“If you only know theories and don’t really know how they can be applied to the field, then your knowledge is only half complete,” said Dr. Chung, who is also currently mentoring a final-year project group for their public communication campaign.

WKWSCI Undergraduate Kathy Lim, who is in Dr. Chung’s corporate communications management module, appreciates how she engages her students.

“She doesn’t just ask for our feedback, but listens and acts on it. Her personal stories are also interesting as they’re very relevant to what we’re learning,” said the 21-year-old.

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Looking back on her time in the industry, Dr. Chung recounts important lessons learned as a journalist and a public relations manager.

“The first thing I was forced to learn as a reporter is that the process, and not just the end result, is very important,” she recalled. “Your boss is always curious about where you are now and what has been done, as well as what has to be done from now. It has become a kind of golden rule for me thus far.”

Besides working in the communications field, Dr. Chung also interned as an advisor to the Permanent Mission of Korea at the United Nations headquarters in her third year as a masters student. 

There, she wrote closed-door meeting minutes and interviewed UN Security Council members for daily reports to be submitted to the Mission.

“When they made important decisions, I felt like I was at a moment in history,” said Dr. Chung.

Dr Chung’s research interests lie in how new media platforms have changed communication processes and how people process messages differently, due to factors such as culture and media channels. 

“Due to cultural differences, the same thing is not accepted or perceived in the same way. I want to look at the cultural or national differences in communication processes,” she said. 

“The main part of being a reporter and PR manager is telling somebody else’s story. It was my childhood dream, but at some point I decided it was time for me to carve out my own story.

Dr. Myojung Chung

Dr. Chung, who has lived in four countries, enjoys learning about different cultures. 

She has special memories of her time in each country. She spent her growing-up years in South Korea and then became fond of the people and food in Japan, where she was a Japan correspondent for Yonhap News Agency in 2010. Two years later, as a graduate student in the United States, she enjoyed the country’s vast, open spaces. 

Her current home, Singapore, has a unique combination of Western and Eastern cultures, observed Dr. Chung. 

“You feel very welcome here. For instance, whenever I say I’m from Korea, people show genuine interest in the country and culture, and they have a very positive attitude.”

When asked about her favourite Korean food in Singapore, she said that her go-to restaurant is Bornga BBQ at Vivocity because it serves authentic cuisine.

“It’s quite expensive but I’m willing to pay that from time to time. I still prefer cooking and my favourite place for Korean food is my home,” she said with a laugh.

At WKWSCI, Dr. Chung’s first teaching experience has been “very rewarding” thus far.

“I’ve realised that I enjoy teaching more than I expected. It’s mainly thanks to the students, who are motivated, diligent and respectful of their teachers. This is usually not easy to find elsewhere,” she said.

Dr. Chung advices students to “experience a lot,” especially if they hope to go into journalism or public relations.

“It’s important to study hard but if you only know things in textbooks, you won’t be able to make a good journalist or PR practitioner. You have to gain new experiences, meet a lot of people, and have eyes for different perspectives.” 

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