10-Year Plan Needed to Better Promote Attractiveness of Nation
By Kim Ji-soo
Branding a nation may well be a difficult concept to grasp.
``Simply put, it's the attractiveness of a nation. Something that attracts us to a nation; when someone is making a decision, it is that something that tugs the heart toward the decision,'' said Choi Jung-wha, president of the Corea Image Communication Institute (CICI) and professor of interpretation and translation at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies.
Korea or more correctly the Korean government is belatedly recognizing the
``We have been improving on the content more recently. But now we must work on effective delivery,'' Choi told The Korea Times.
For effective delivery, Choi said we should consider a differentiated approach by region and also by target.
``In Southeast Asia, the image of Korea is positive. In North America, Korea still conjures up the Korean War and Korea's militant labor unions. Europe and Latin America, they hardly know about Korea. So a unilateral approach to promoting a Korea brand will not work. So we must approach it by region.
``The other important thing is that Korea should distinguish in how we convey the brand to opinion leaders and the public,'' Choi said.
``'Brand, image is the highest value-added activity that a nation can produce. But in CICI's survey, we've found that it's much more effective when we engage opinion leaders in a two-way communication to better promote Korea, while for the public, one-way communication is effective,'' Choi said. Tools for two-way communication would be seminars and conferences while medium-both print and visual, dramas, films and other cultural contents could also work.
These are more a matter of framework to convey the essence of Korea.
``Koreans tend to be blunt in their manner. We should thus look for subtle yet attractive ways to deliver the qualities of our nation,'' Choi said. ``We now have to find ways to be more subtle … to be more attractive … We should not rely on appealing to reason but rather get people to `feel' Korea.''
As one example of getting people to feel Korea with all of their five senses, CICI will be participating in a food festival that will be held Nov. 6 in San Paolo, Brazil, to commemorate President Lee Myung-bak's trip to the Nov. 22 APEC meeting and his visit to several South American nations. Before the food festival, CICI will show a five-minute public relations video dubbed ``Korea is It.'' Then a traditional Korean performance will follow, before participants can try out Korean food. ``People's eyes and ears would be pleased by the video material and the performance and then their palate will be satisfied by Korean food,'' she said.
Most representative of people ``feeling'' Korea would be ``hallyu'' (Korean Wave), Choi said. Some critics mention that hallyu or the popularity of Korean cultural contents is considered to have hit a certain stalling point but Choi sees it in another light.
``Hallyu can gain more momentum depending on how we view it. Because, hallyu embodies the identity of Korea,'' said Choi. When people across the world watch Korean dramas and movies, they are in fact familiarizing themselves with Korean culture and Korean ways embedded in those contents, she expanded. When they play computer games created by Koreans, they are acquiring Korean ways and thinking that are embedded in the games, she said.
``If we were to be more specific about it, I guess we can call it the 'new hallyu','' she said.
To promote better understanding of Korea's brand will require us to strengthen our weaknesses.
``Korea's weakness, I think, is that we lag in finishing touches,'' she said mentioning how Koreans in their ``pali pali'' (hurry-up, hurry-up) spirit sometimes do things haphazardly.
She said that she felt an acute need to create a better understanding of the Korean people and culture while working for 28 years as a simultaneous interpreter on the world stage, Choi always felt that the intelligence of Koreans and the uniqueness of their culture were not represented enough. ``People told me if I got things started, they would help. I took their words at face value, so I've got things started and have come this far with a lot of help from others too,'' she said.
Choi said that she finds a link between the strength of Korea's traditional historic achievements such as metal type, hangeul and the rain gauge, and the IT development and restored Cheonggye Stream of the present day. She finds in the solid popularity of Korean B-boys, the people's passion and talent.
She encapsulated the link with a slogan of her own-``Korea is IT.''
``The IT here has three meanings. First, it means innovation and tradition, second information and technology and third, integration and transformation,'' she said.
``I also want to convey that the negative image of the Korean war and colonial Korea has been surmounted by Korean's talent and passion, which nowadays is manifested through hallyu. They say that Koreans are better b-boy dancers because our legs are short. I don't think so; I think its because of our talent,'' she said.
When asked to comment on other Korean slogans ― ``Dynamic Korea,'' ``Korea Sparkling'' and ``Hi Seoul'' ― she said that each can fulfill a specific need. Dynamic Korea would be more fitting in promoting the Korean economy, while Sparkling Korea is more oriented toward promoting cultural aspects including tourism.
She also added that Koera should be more active in overseas aid and contribution, noting that she was surprised to find several years ago that China was assisting Cambodia in restoring Angkor Wat.
To sum it up, ``We need to promote daily culture, traditional culture, popular culture simultaneously at every target group,'' Choi said. So similar to the five-year economic plan of yesteryears, she has drafted a 10-year plan for better promoting Korea.
``In European countries, just renting a certain venue takes several years. In order to better communicate our culture, we need to see things at their level. They don't have things done as quickly as possible just because their boss barks orders,'' she said. ``We need to see eye to eye.''