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A Freelancer in the Trump-Kim Summit

​Fresh from the recent Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore, freelance project co-ordinator Chen Ruiling recounts the excitement and stress of being part of a news crew documenting world history being made.

If you've followed the news recently, you would have read all about the hordes of journalists and media crews that descended on our sunny island to cover the groundbreaking Summit between Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump on 12 June 2018.


Behind the scenes, freelance project coordinators like Chen Ruiling were hard at work on the ground arranging all the necessary logistics so the news crews they worked with could share their side of the action.


Ruiling was co-ordinator for a major Japanese television station and worked together with an entirely foreign crew. She was on standby 24/7 to ensure that the news crew got to the required locations on time, provided filming assistance and even interpretation.


We caught up with her after the event to find out what it was like working in a high profile event that the whole world had its eyes on.


How did it feel to be a part of one of the most closely-watched political events in recent history?


I felt excited and honoured to have been able to contribute a small part in this event. I am also proud of the hospitality efforts put by local food companies at the International Media Center when I heard my Japanese guests mention how, despite the short notice, there was so much quality food provided at a high-level summit.


There must have been a lot of pressure on the crew given the nature of the event.


We were worried as the final approval for media accreditation had come in late. I was not given any details on the schedule, or movement plans prior to the summit. I did as much preparation as I could by reading up and following all the social media tags regarding local news, government announcements and traffic conditions.


I even re-organised the related apps on my mobile phone's home screen just for this summit so I could have immediate access to them during emergencies.


Were there any scares?


My team had a panic attack as our chartered bus got stuck unexpectedly in a road block after we finished filming Kim Jong Un's visit to Marina Bay Sands and we needed to send the announcer back to the media center for her live broadcast. Fortunately, we managed to get a taxi and took an alternate route to make it back in the nick of time.


What was the atmosphere like on the ground?


Everyone was anxious to see if the summit would take place successfully and what would be the outcome of the talks. Security was tighter on the day when the two leaders arrived in Singapore and the morning of the 12th when they left for the summit.


Despite tightened security, screenings were smooth as long as we made sure we brought the necessary documents.


Were there any things you had to pay special attention to?


I had to make sure that the crew carried their media passes all the time and that they followed filming regulations. For example, no stepping onto the street while the roadblock was in place. Any breach may have led to being banned from filming. It was also a challenge for foreigners to understand that traffic rules needed to be strictly adhered to, such as no stopping along zigzag lines.


Ruiling is a freelancer with CreativesAtWork, a network partner with U FSE (NTUC's Freelancers and Self-employed unit).​

Jonathan Tan