Kim Hye Won

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Kim Hye Won, OhMyNews reporter, with her nephew, Lee Ju Seok

Kim Hye won doesn't look like a journalist, which is to say that she doesn't look like Hildy Johnson in His Girl Friday. Kim looks like a 45-year-old Korean housewife, which is what she is. More and more journalists are starting to look like her.

Kim is a citizen reporter for a South Korean website called OhMyNews. There is nothing quite like OhMyNews in the U.S., or not yet. Imagine if the Washington Post were produced entirely by bloggers. OhMyNews is written mostly by a floating staff of 47,000 amateur journalists all over the country. The site gets 1 million to 1.5 million page views a day.

OhMyNews was founded in 2000, after decades of authoritarian rule had left the South Korean media deeply co-opted. The website was a revelation for Kim. "I felt the mainstream media was one-sided," she says. "But after I began to read OhMyNews, I found out there were different views and perspectives available." Kim read the site for about a year before she tried her first piece, about her son, who was studying for exams, and her husband, who was dealing with corporate burnout. The headline: DADDY'S DEPRESSED, SON'S TAKING TESTS, AND I'M WORRIED. She was a natural.

Over the past three years, Kim has written about 60 pieces for OhMyNews. The site awarded her Citizen Reporter of the Year for 2005. "Korean housewives become nameless after marriage," Kim says. "They are often just called someone's wife or someone's mother. I finally found my name through OhMyNews."


—Reported by Jeremy Caplan and Kathleen Kingsbury/New York, Susan Jakes/Beijing, Jeffrey Ressner/Los Angeles, Grant Rosenberg/Paris and Bryan Walsh/Seoul