[Letter to the editor]A monument that symbolizes Korea

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[Letter to the editor]A monument that symbolizes Korea

On July 7, the new Seven Wonders of the World will be announced in Lisbon, Portugal.
The Statue of Liberty of the United States, the Eiffel Tower of France and the Great Wall of China are candidates, among many others. These iconic structures have come to symbolize the countries that built them and bring in lots of money from tourists and souvenir items.
Koreans also want to have an iconic symbol to represent the country, but so far it has none.
There is no organization dedicated to working on finding such a symbol and there has been little effort to work on it. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs is in charge of the task, but it seems that the ministry does not work hard on the job because it already has a huge workload.
Because there is no single item to symbolize the country, wrong images of Korea prevail in the world.
Korea is a small country with few natural resources, so information technology seems to be the only way to develop the country into a welfare state.
A tiger is a symbol for Asia. A tiger is used to describe the Korean Peninsula, as well.
Since Korea is the leading country in information technology, I think we can combine information technology, the tiger and the rose of Sharon, the national flower, to create a symbol for the country.
We don’t have time to waste doing nothing.
We must create a symbol for Korea and that will create a huge amount of additional value.
The people will embrace the symbol if it is well-conceived and understood. When designing a symbol for the country, it’s very important to draw a consensus among the people. To achieve that, we need to get people more interested in the task.
An exhibition of souvenirs from across the country, a yearly event held by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, can be used as a vehicle to boost people’s interest in coming up with a national symbol.
The exhibition can collect items for the national symbol, select one or two every year and sell or promote them to Koreans and foreign tourists, while explaining the meaning behind them and keeping track of people’s preferences.
By holding public debates and bringing together public opinion, a national symbol can be designated.
In this process, people will become more interested in the effort of designating a national symbol so that finally Korea will find a suitable symbol to represent the country.
A great national symbol will give hope and pride to the people. Souvenir items of that symbol carried home by foreign tourists will help improve the image of Korea abroad.
That’s the right way to think about and prepare for the future of the country.

Kim Won-kil, an expert on symbols, writes from Seoul
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