Half a world from home, reporters try to make sense of Trump
CLEVELAND — It was a pro forma TV standup, being taped for use later, on a busy street late Sunday afternoon outside the Quicken Loans Arena that's site for the Republican National Convention.
"The Republican Party is set to begin their four-day national convention. And all eyes are on the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump," said the young reporter — once, twice and then a third time, until her cameraman gave a thumbs-up. She picked her makeup off the ground, and they prepared to exit.
If their labor was similar to that of many other reporters in town covering the convention, their nationality wasn't. Reporter Jiwon Park and cameraman Bohyun Bang are with Arirang TV based in Seoul, South Korea.
Why were they here?
"It's the president of the United States," Park explained. "We have a lot of interest in the United States. It is the number-one country in the world."
As NBC's Chuck Todd was hustling to a nearby outdoors studio not too far away and eliciting a news celebrity's typical response from passersby ("hey, that's the guy from CBS!" a Mississippi delegate said to his companion), the two journalists from Arirang were virtually unnoticed and blended into the bustle of conventioneers, media and massive security.
The duo has been in the country for 10 days, starting in Washington, D.C. and finishing up in Cleveland.
I asked if they had come to any clear understanding of Trump's appeal. They said a little bit but not completely. Perhaps join the crowd, I said.
As we bid one another farewell, another significant, if confounding American reality was playing out on the television sets of a nearby tavern.
There was President Obama once again addressing the nation about the latest act of shocking violence; this time the three police officers in Baton Rouge.
When he was done, there was Todd on the screen, now seated in the nearby studio, discussing a depressing occurrence with anchor Brian Williams that one suspects will also get a lot of attention in South Korea.