[LETTERS to the editor]Global ambitions, poor image makingHaving just revisited Korea after several years, it amazes me how sloppy and poor a job it does in international marketing. Poorly worded, error-laden road signs and dreary hospitality at the Incheon International Airport are two examples.
I recall that the airport used to call itself “The Winged City” when it opened ― a cool, unique and different statement. Now it seems to have abandoned that branding for something quite bland. The airport itself is architecturally beautiful and extremely efficient ― but absolutely characterless compared to Hong Kong, Singapore or many other major hubs. While other airports put thought and creativity into food and beverage outlets, including quality restaurants or themed bars, Incheon just has cheap fast-food outlets and dreadful “cocktail bars.”
The one exception to Korea’s low-class branding that I noticed was Jeju island’s new slogan. Jeju seems to have set itself a too ambitious goal of emulating Hong Kong and Singapore, but at least it has started right, with an interesting and differentiating slogan ― “Always in Season” ― to attract investors and tourists.
Overall, however, the tendency seems to be for Korean organizations, especially the government, to take cheap shortcuts rather than a more effective, long-term approach to global image making. It’s a pity that with so much to offer, so little thought or resources are put behind those offerings.
by William Ryan Scott