'Diverse Voices' of foreign residents shared on radio - The Korea Times
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'Diverse Voices' of foreign residents shared on radio

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Jasmine Lee, host of the radio show
Jasmine Lee, host of the radio show "Diverse Voices," poses in a studio at TBS eFM in Seoul, Oct. 14. Korea Times photo by Lee Hyo-jin

By Lee Hyo-jin

"Diverse Voices," a radio show on English broadcaster TBS eFM (101.3MHz), deals with a variety of issues surrounding migrants and residents of foreign nationality in Korea.

The light-hearted show, which airs every day from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., not only delivers useful information to listeners, but also uplifts their spirits through interesting interviews with guests from various backgrounds.

It is hosted by Jasmine Lee, a Philippine-born naturalized Korean and former lawmaker who has worked with various civic groups active around migrant and multicultural family issues.

"As the title of the program suggests, our main goal is to have more diverse voices of foreign residents on radio, including those who don't speak English very well," Lee said during a recent interview with The Korea Times.

The program kicked off in March as a weekend show, but was changed to a daily in August, reflecting the broadcaster's increased efforts to better deliver the voices of migrants and foreign nationals residing in the country.

Lee, the first radio host at TBS eFM from a Southeast Asian country, tries to invite more non-English native speakers as guests to add more diversity to the show.

"Radio programs or TV shows with foreigners in Korea mostly concentrate on native English speakers from Western countries. So there hasn't been a lot of exposure for those who can't speak English that well, but they also really want to get their voices out there."

The show covers a wide range of subjects, including the latest government policies on multiculturalism and concerning residents of foreign nationality, the economy and even casual topics, such as where to visit and what to eat in Korea.

Lee said, "Our listeners have different interests. The best thing about having the show scheduled for a full week is that we can deal with every single issue they are interested in."

As "Diverse Voices" invites various guests from different backgrounds, the opportunity to meet a lot of people and hear their stories is one of the biggest motivations for Lee.

The show featured Andre Jin Coquillard, a naturalized Korean rugby player born to an American father and a Korean mother, and more recently, two high school students were invited to introduce the country's one and only basketball team comprised of children from multicultural families.

"With my line of work, I have met a lot of people, and I thought I had met everyone. But doing the show, I have met more diverse people than I did during my time at the National Assembly. I feel so grateful because I would have missed all these opportunities if I didn't do Diverse Voices."

Hosting a radio show seven days a week can be hectic and challenging for some people, but not for Lee.

"I get all of my energy from talking, which is really odd, because you're supposed to be tired from talking. I love meeting and talking to people. I think our staff must have a more difficult time than me with all of their preparation behind the scenes," she said.

Christina Seo, the show's main producer, said, "Jasmine has one of the biggest elements a radio DJ should have. As a host, you should talk whether you are in good condition or not, and it has to be presentable to the audience. Now I've worked with Jasmine for about two months, and so far, I have never seen her in bad condition."

When asked about the topics she would like to cover in the future, Lee said, "We haven't touched much on politics. Now, with the presidential election approaching, we might be able to have more talks about what foreign residents think about the election in general. We hope our program can help raise awareness that the opinions of foreigners actually count in politics."

She also expressed hopes that in the long term, the radio would be able to offer programs in different languages other than English, saying, "As recent statistics show, a growing number of foreign residents are from countries such as China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Mongolia and so on. It would be great to give them the opportunity to listen to their own languages."

The radio show is also accessible through the TBS eFM app, as well as via livestream on TBS eFM's official YouTube channel.

Lee Hyo-jin lhj@koreatimes.co.kr

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