An Outlet for Hope

Jiye Choi, South Korea
A woman standing in front of a building posing for a photo.
[Courtesy of Jiye Choi]

Jiye Choi from South Korea talks about her journey into the world of media, its challenges and pitfalls and, most importantly, finding her sense of purpose to make a difference.

I was born and raised in Daegu, South Korea, and grew up in a family practicing Nichiren Buddhism. As a child, I was introverted and shy, but whenever I attended local Soka Gakkai meetings, the members always warmly welcomed me and their kind support eventually helped me overcome my anxiety and shyness.

When I was in elementary school, I joined the Broadcasting Club. It was then that I discovered my passion for working with a team to produce shows, and my dream to work in media was born.

I experienced my first setback, however, when it came time to attend university—I failed the entrance exam. Despite this, I was determined to pursue my dream and felt there was significance in what I was experiencing. Undefeated, I decided to pursue media studies abroad, at a university in Australia, where I truly wanted to go.

Laying the Groundwork

In Australia, I created precious friendships in the Soka Gakkai community and was inspired to become a person who could help bring people together through my work.

Just before graduating from university, I started looking for a position at a broadcasting station in South Korea. I wanted to become financially independent as soon as I could.

I applied for a job at a TV station that broadcasted primarily to an international audience and was hired as an assistant director. The fact that I had studied abroad, spoke English and had specialized in media studies was highly valued.

It became clear to me that my deep wish is to utilize the power of the media for the benefit of humanity.

I worked on a variety of TV programs, including talk shows and news programs, steadily building my career. At the same time, I started to feel overwhelmed by work. At a time when I was particularly struggling, I heard the experience of a Soka Gakkai member who was going through something similar and found it inspiring.

I wanted to take full responsibility for my life and began by chanting about the challenges I faced. This made me realize that in order to bring balance back into my life, I had to use my time as efficiently and valuably as possible. My colleagues noticed my improved time management and way of working, which eventually led to me being promoted to the position of producer.

Finding Purpose

In 2010, I moved to a major Korean TV station to a position as producer in charge of international news reporting.

Covering global poverty, conflict and disaster was heart-wrenching. I began to question the role of the media and the way sensational topics are prioritized in order to grab people’s attention.

I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo wholeheartedly about this and, at a Buddhist meeting, came across a passage from Nichiren’s writings that struck me. It talked about the importance of working for the happiness of oneself and others. Reflecting on this, I felt that if I kept striving with this goal in mind, I would naturally find the answers to my questions. It became clear to me that my deep wish is to utilize the power of the media for the benefit of humanity.

I realized, too, that everything starts with courage and that there is great power in dialogue.

I realized, too, that everything starts with courage and that there is great power in dialogue. I began to feel more confident that by being courageous and trusting myself, nothing was impossible.

I channeled this mentality when guiding my staff through the challenges of producing our shows. I tried to instill courage and self-belief by speaking with each of my colleagues, encouraging them and suggesting ways of making things more effective. When they said they weren’t up to certain tasks, I encouraged them to embrace their strengths rather than focus on their weaknesses. I gave each person a role that would bring out the best in them instead of pushing them into positions that weren’t a good fit.

It wasn’t easy, as I had to first believe in myself and my potential in order to believe in and inspire my staff. I chanted Nam-myoho-renge-kyo for more strength and to become more capable. My vision of creating a more peaceful world through the power of media has become a source of strength and inspiration for me to be able to push myself, move forward and overcome struggles.

Creating a Great Future Together

In 2017, thanks to the support from my company, I was able to go abroad to the UK where I completed my master’s degree in international communication and development.

After returning to South Korea, I wrote a book on media and also produced a special TV program on South Korea’s first domestically produced space rocket, Nuri, which was well received. I was happy to be able to produce a program about positive news, especially during the shared challenges of COVID-19. I believe the role of the media is to give people hope.

My hope is that we can each open our minds to the endless possibilities of life.

Currently, I teach at a university, where I can pass on this idea and my experiences to my students. I continue to cherish the goal of contributing to peace through the media. My goal may seem too idealistic to some, but I believe that if each person tries to lead the world toward good, we will create change. My hope is that we can each open our minds to the endless possibilities of life and become protagonists of creating a bright future together.

Adapted from an article in the November 19, 2021, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan.