Professor Dal Yong Jin of KAIST’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences drew international attention by publishing Korea’s Online Gaming Empire through MIT Press. As his recent publication shows, Professor Jin’s interest lies in the convergence of science, journalism, mass media and globalization. The KAIST Herald met with Professor Jin to learn more about this fresh combination of various fields.
Could you briefly introduce yourself?
I was appointed as a KAIST professor in 2009 with a Ph.D. in Communications Media. My major interest is new media, mainly online games and social network, globalization and media industry and policy. Also, I am an associate professor for the Master of Science Journalism Program, so my interest expands to science and journalism as well. I worked as a journalist for ten years. With my background in journalism, I received a Ph.D. in communication and I have been studying this field ever since.
What prompted you to become a professor at KAIST?
I studied Communications in graduate school and worked as a professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada. At that time, KAIST was making the Master of Science Journalism Program and they needed a professor who could be in charge with a background in communications and journalism. KAIST also wanted someone to lecture communications and media courses for undergraduate students, so I was well-suited for this job. I believed KAIST’s uniqueness as an institute of science and technology would advance my studies in new media, globalization and journalism.
Last year, you published Korea’s Online Gaming Empire. What made you take an interest in online games?
I started becoming interested in online games since 2007. While I was studying communications in graduate school from 1998 to 2004, online games were still developing and not that popular. However, after 2003, online games rapidly grew into a major industry, carrying industrial and cultural importance. As online games are based on a network system, development of high-speed internet promoted the advancement of online games. That is why online games are a rather recent trend, as high-speed internet emerged after 2000.
While I was studying new media, it was essential to cover new media trends, which included online games. Although Korea is certainly one of the leading countries in the field of online games, there was not enough research around. Naturally, my interest shifted to online gaming and its significance in industry, culture and globalization.
Can you tell us more about your research?
One of my major researches is about globalization, specifically the flow of globalization through new and mass media. For example, my research includes studying the significance of K-Pop from the aspect of globalization. Also, I’m interested in the digital Korean wave, which exceeds the original meaning of Korean wave diffused in Southeast Asia. Digital Korean wave is a huge flow that would influence other countries beyond Asia, such as North America and other European countries. I would like to study more about its current situation and possible potentials. Overall, the major goal of my research is to analyze the stream of globalization through new media, especially focusing on mass media and online games.
Moreover, I am expanding my interest to science journalism. One advantage of KAIST is fusion research. With cooperation from professors in various departments, I am studying the current status of science journalism and its problems in Korea.
Many students are interested in science journalism. Can you introduce the Master of Science Journalism Program at KAIST?
The Master of Science Journalism Program aims to combine the fields of science, technology and journalism. In the past, science, technology and journalism were each considered separate areas. Thus, science and technology were isolated from the public and policy makers, as communication tools between them did not exist. We are expecting that journalism would play a role as a bridge for interactive communication between science and the public.
Unlike other graduate schools of journalism that only focus on theories and methodologies, the Science Journalism Program at KAIST requires students not only to study journalism, but also to intensify their knowledge of science and technology. Graduate students learn to combine their scientific knowledge with journalism for smoother communication between scientists and the public.
Do you have any last comments or advice for students?
I would recommend students to pay more attention to the media. Through the media, members of society can develop their abilities to understand the society better. The media plays various roles such as providing information and offering entertainment, but its most important function is to promote participation in society. I believe there are so many advantages that students can gain from taking interest in the media.
Also, since most KAIST students live in dormitories, many of them fail to manage time properly and spend too much time on computer games. Although online games have positive effects as they encourage a participatory culture among the young generation, too much gaming is as bad as too little. I hope students learn to control themselves and lead a balanced college life.