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South Korea Seeks Dynamic Image
This is the fifth in a series of New Year's contributions by Korean and foreign experts on key issues on Korea - ED.
When you hear the word "Korea," what comes to mind first? According to a survey of 1,000 people in December conducted by World Research, an international survey research institution, the most popular response among both foreigners and Koreans was ``kimchi.''
Other common answers among foreigners included "kindness," "ginseng," "soccer," and "Yonsama."
So what slogan will best represent Korea? Seven of every ten foreigners questioned chose "Dynamic Korea." They said these words gave images that were "energetic," "positive," "attractive" and "global." They also indicated that the slogan well illustrates Korea's present and future, including its economic and industrial development.
In as much as the modern period could arguably be called an "era of brands," enterprises are paying keen attention to managing the label for their products and their corporate image. Cities and countries are also competing to develop their image. Many countries are eager to promote slogans abroad in an effort to attract more foreign tourists. Thailand is now "Amazing Thailand" and Malaysia is "Truly Asia," while New Zealand is promoting itself as "100 Percent Pure New Zealand."
Following this international trend, Korea is now seeking to promote its own national image. The need for an English slogan was first raised ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup finals. The government collected opinions from a range of different groups, including foreign residents in Korea, foreign media representatives in Seoul, Korean missions abroad and government institutions. A survey was also conducted online by KBS. As a result of these efforts, "Dynamic Korea" was created to symbolize Korea. Since participatory government decided to continue with efforts to promote an energetic and positive national image, the National Image Committee has concentrated on the use of the slogan in its campaign.
In order for the brand of "Korea" to realize its potential in the international community, what efforts are necessary? Among other things, it is important to expand public awareness of "Dynamic Korea" and for all Koreans to work together in promoting the nation's image abroad. The participation of enterprises and individual citizens is crucial as establishing a national image abroad will require a lot of time, money and effort.
The next question then is: What approach will be the most effective in promoting a positive and dynamic image of Korea around world?
Michael De Vere, former vice chairman of the British Chamber of Commerce in Korea, offered valuable advice when he spoke about "Dynamic Korea." The slogan, De Vere noted, accurately reflects the sentiments of Koreans, carrying a sense of the great growth potential that the nation aspires to and exhibiting a forward-looking mindset.
For this reason, the slogan will serve as an effective tool in promoting the nation at home and abroad for a number of years. De Vere suggested that other slogans could be usefully presented alongside "Dynamic Korea," possibly about aspirations for becoming an economic "hub" for Northeast Asia or attaining a per capital GNP of $20,000.
The experience of another nation offers a valuable lesson. Shoba Ponnappa, head of the British Council in Korea, in a speech at a symposium in downtown Seoul in November 2003 examined the reason why "Cool Britannia," a slogan adopted by the British government in 1997, was not a success. According to Ponnappa, the images suggested by the slogan represented only a limited number of arenas such as music, fashion and arts industries, and was not an overall representation of British society.
As part of her analysis, Ponnappa offered five points of advice. First, image-promotion projects are time-consuming; second, consistency in promotion strategies is critical; third, government agencies and civilian groups need to work together if promotion projects are to be effective; fourth, image promotion projects, often costly, are hard for the government to realize by itself; fifth, any significant change in terms of national image need to be accompanied by an improvement in the overall quality of commercial products and services.
Comprehensive planning for image promotion is vital, and tangible measures are an important part of promotion strategies. Many foreign experts and others have already agreed that "Dynamic Korea" as a slogan carries the overall values and sentiments of Korean society. Now the challenge is how to have the positive images of the slogan impact on the minds of people around the world. This task needs to be pursued by all areas of the nation: the government, the corporate sector and the people.
The tragic suffering of tsunami-victims in South Asia provide an opportunity to show the world that Korea also cares and wants to provide help to those in need. Only then can Korea develop its image as a nation that shoulders its responsibilities, both in Asia and beyond. Korea, which has built the world's 12th largest economy in terms of trade volume out of the ashes of the Korean War, is looking forward to taking its achievement and potential to the world.