Farewell, Anna Fifield

As the world’s attention was focused on Beijing yesterday evening for the opening ceremony of the Olympics, in a small hanok in Bukcheon another celebration was taking place. Anna Fifield, the FT’s Seoul bureau chief, was having a farewell party to mark the end of her four years in the Land of Morning Calm.

I’m told that the FT is the only UK newspaper to have a permanent bureau in Seoul, and I believe is one of only two western newspapers to have a presence there – the other one being the International Herald Tribune. Apart from the standard news stories you expect the FT to cover, Fifield has produced a steady stream of out-of-the-way features highlighting particular aspects of Korea in depth. Maybe some of the subjects are familiar to people who immerse themselves in the Korean blogosphere, but even for such an audience Fifield’s feature-length articles pull things together nicely, and of course for the general FT reader provide insights they wouldn’t normally get. And even for the Korea specialist she produces material hard to find elsewhere.

Anna Fifield's fake funeralHer most recent feature was about the slightly odd “well-dying” product being sold by Korea Life Consulting (When death is a reminder to live, 21 July 2008), and the above photo shows her researching that particular story. My own favourite is the interview with Shin Dong-jin, the man charged with increasing Korea’s birthrate, published at the height of the DPRK missile-testing crisis (Room for one more, 7 July 2006).

Other features include

(note that you only get four free clicks on the FT website in any 30 day period, so prioritise your browsing if you want to read one or two of the articles in full)

She has also enjoyed her trips north of the DMZ, and was recently runner-up in the 2008 SOPA awards for editorial excellence for her coverage of North Korea, in the Human Rights Reporting category:

An excellent overview of one of the great unknowns that must be closely observed in Asia. Good reporting and analysis of key issues from different sides. It has taken a long time for the FT to tackle this issue and report on the plight of the refuges in China. This was another example of a journalist supplying excellent insight about a notoriously difficult subject. The reporter has clearly gotten to know her story, and was able to give the reader a detailed view of North Korea from a variety of angles.

After a few years at the same job, anyone is entitled to get itchy feet, and Fifield is now off to the middle east, where she will cover Lebanon, Syria, Iran and northern Iraq from the FT’s office in Beirut. At LKL we’ll be sorry to see her go.

2 thoughts on “Farewell, Anna Fifield

  1. Hello Philip, I would like to link this post to my blog post about MB government vs. FT and was wondering if it is all right with you? I thoroughly enjoyed many of her articles and will miss her very much indeed. I guess Christian Oliver is the new correspondent for definite then? (What about Song Jung-a?)

  2. Feel Free!

    Yes I think Christian Oliver is the official Seoul bureau chief, and Song Jung-a continues as before. It took a while for CO’s name to emerge and for a while I was wondering if SJA was going to be the FT’s only correspondent in Korea. It seems, though that CO isn’t allowed free rein over the whole peninsula – David Pilling also chips in from Tokyo, particularly on DPRK matters.

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