Skip to content

“We don’t know who you are but crack on!” Using your difference for advantage in journalism abroad

Cultural differences when working abroad can be used to your advantage as a journalist, according to an ITV production journalist who spent a number of years working in South Korea.

Speaking as part of an alumni panel at Leeds Trinity University today, Peter Hampshire said he felt xenophobia had created barriers in his personal life, but in his work, he played these cultural barriers for his benefit.

“At the start of my journey in journalism in Korea, I didn’t have any right to be where I was, I was pushing my way into press zones and they thought this guy must be a journalist because he’s a white foreign face, why else would he be here?”

He said he felt the South Korean people thought: “Yeah you can sit there if you want, we don’t know who you are but crack on!”

Hampshire first visited South Korea in 2015 where he discovered his passion for journalism by covering South Korean football.

After graduating with a degree in Sports Journalism from Leeds Trinity University in 2018, he returned to South Korea to work.

He said it was particularly difficult beginning his journalistic career in Korea as you have no points of cultural reference, with both sides only knowing stereotypes – “They expected me to be an English gentleman!”

However, he found that being different created curiosity around his presence at South Korean League Two games and this interest welcomed interactions which he found opened doors for him.

Speaking on how South Korea differed from the UK, Hampshire said: “It’s more intense in Korea, but not in a healthy way.”

Expectations in South Korea are higher – late nights and long days are the norm, which if you don’t comply with “you’re out”.

“Journalism around the world has deadlines, but I feel like people in the UK are a bit more understanding whereas in Korea, it’s a lot more intense and they think ‘oh we’re paying this guy to do this job and he’s ten minutes past his deadline’.”

On returning to the UK, he said he has experienced a “general culture shock” – a transition which he has found can seep into his working life as the changes in environment play on his mind.

Since January 2022, Hampshire has been working as a production journalist for ITV calendar.

Today he looked forward to experiencing the highlight of his career as his first pitch to be approved would be filmed in his hometown.

Hampshire spoke alongside six other previous alumni of Leeds Trinity as part of an event at Leeds Trinity’s Journalism and Media Week for students.

What do you think?