Learning self-promotion by example
“The fact that Professor Hwang’s papers were fabricated could temporarily have a negative impact,” said Ms. Choi, whose non-governmental, non-profit organization aims to promote the national image.
“But, at the same time, Korea showed the world its open, democratic process in finding the truth. It’s noteworthy that Korea initiated the investigation.” These efforts will benefit Korea’s image in the long term, she added.
To see what others thought, Ms. Choi asked the guests of a New Year’s celebration at the COEX InterContinental Hotel, southern Seoul, on Wednesday the following question: “Is it better to have no image or an image that temporarily may be negative, but creates awareness of the country?”
Ms. Choi also announced the results of a recent survey on how Koreans perceive foreign countries.
The survey of 1,470 Koreans aged 18 to 68, of whom 85.7 percent have traveled overseas, yielded rather typical responses. When thinking of France, Koreans think of the Eiffel Tower; Japan, sushi; The Middle East, oil; and so on.
Perceptions also depended on the age of the respondents. When asked about Japan, two thirds of respondents aged 18 to 29 mentioned animation, while no elderly people did.
Koreans said the three most impressive countries were Japan, the United States and Australia because of the sense of order, good public facilities and attitude towards foreigners in all three countries. Surprisingly, Japan topped the list despite bad feelings over the colonial era.
Ms. Choi said that her organization sponsored the survey partly in order to learn how other nations succeeded in promoting themselves.
“A French CEO speaking at the Korea Image Forum in Paris last November said it was important to know how we perceive other nations in order to plan for the promotion of Korea’s national image and know what others think,” said Ms. Choi.
The survey was quite useful, said Ms. Choi, and the French, Japanese and Belgium ambassadors who attended the party asked her to send them the results.
However, creating or changing one’s image is not easy, Warwick Morris, British Ambassador to Korea, noted at the party.
“Many old school books all over the world say London is constantly in fog and permanently rainy,” said Mr. Morris. In reality, there hasn’t been a serious fog in London since he was five, he added. (Indeed, fog was the third most common thing Koreans thought of when asked about Britain in the survey, following the British monarch and Burberry.)
Because it is hard to remove an image once it becomes fixed, “People-to-people contact is very, very important,” said Mr. Morris, who added that people can learn the good points of other nations by visiting.
At the party, Seoul Mayor Lee Myung-bak received the Stepping Stone Award from the institute for his efforts to raise Seoul’s image by restoring and redeveloping Cheonggyecheon stream, which bisects downtown Seoul.
by Park Sung-ha