[Letter to the editor]Global image begins with courtesyHere in the Philippines, I find many Japanese, Chinese and other foreigners from all over the world, not to mention Koreans. It is, therefore, second nature for the people here to think globally. Everything around me is written in both English and Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines. A small contribution I make here is the South Korean vision. What do I do to make a better impression of my own nation on the people here? What do I tell them?
The message that I want to bring is that the Republic of Korea should be considered as one of the major forces in both Northeast and Southeast Asia in the coming years.
Of course, its culture and food are already well known here through dramas that show the lifestyles of Koreans. But the question is whether we Koreans are doing enough to improve our country’s image.
What is wrong with Koreans is that too many people are not serious about doing this. I have often heard many Koreans complain that the Philippines is such a poor and dirty country that it is difficult to live here. What is worse, they do not even try greeting the natives. I would like to share with the people here and with Koreans my own insight into what image we are really showing to them.
South Korea’s brands such as Samsung and LG are popular here in the Philippines. All Koreans here, including me, are very proud of the fact that we are from the country which produces such goods. When the people here ask me about Korea’s dramas and movies, it always reminds me of the Korean Wave. As a Korean who is concerned with the future of our country’s global image, I would like to say that it is high time to think about how we can improve it.
First point: We should learn something from Filipinos, who always smile, no matter the situation they are in.
How often do we smile, looking at others? We may not smile even when we find other Koreans walking down the street. Kind words are important. How often do we praise others? We should not just complain about things around us, but praise as much as possible. It sure seems that at least in the Philippines, Koreans come out as not the most polite people in Asia.
It is a good sign that there are many Korean dramas and movies coming into the Philippines. But we can not stop at this.
Somehow, we should inform other people of who we Koreans really are and what kind of nation South Korea really is. At the same time, we should always remember that we are creating our country’s image as well as our personal image. We should practice smiling more ― what can we lose if we just smile?
Second point: We should learn something from Filipinos, who always try to find happiness in the small things in their lives, even if they live in poverty.
One day, I visited a local church as a volunteer to help the church members clean. My first impression of them was really unforgettable. They seemed not to care much about whether they already knew me or not. They just welcomed me and always smiled at me while we were cleaning together. Just suppose a foreigner came to our community in Korea -- can we so easily go and talk to that person we don’t know? What impressed me more is that they are satisfied with what they already have and try to find happiness and satisfaction in their lives.
What can we do to make our country’s image better? How do we go about learning valuable things from Filipinos? The answer has to be in the everyday, ordinary circumstances of our life. That answer has to be made clear and realistic from the moment we get up in the morning throughout the entire day while we are with our friends and families and while we are at work until the time we go to bed at night.
We should try to be proud to be Koreans known for their courtesy. But I would like to ask again how often we smile at foreigners we don’t know well. If we are hearing that Korea’s international image is worsening, it means that we are now confronted by our rude behavior and negative attitude toward countries poorer than ours.
I strongly believe that a major strength of Korea comes from our country’s image as well as our personal image. It is obvious to me that South Korean trends provide ideas for other people about what we are aiming to become in the world in the coming years.
Moon Hye-young, a junior at Kyung Hee University in Seoul
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