South says to the world: We aren’t like the North

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South says to the world: We aren’t like the North

Facing the upcoming G-20 Summit to be held in Seoul next month, the South Korean government is concerned that the current instability in the North could have a negative impact on the event.

The Presidential Council on National Branding, which consists of 47 government officials, including 10 ministers, held its “Conference on Korea’s Nation Brand” yesterday at the Millennium Seoul Hilton, in northern Seoul.

The conference focused on the issue of third-generation hereditary succession in North Korea.

Experts dealing with the issue of the two Koreas - especially the “national branding of South Korea” - spoke about various issues related to political changes on the Korean Peninsula.

“We found many foreigners were still confused in distinguishing the two Koreas,” said Lee Bae-yong, head of the council.

“The foreign media recently started to spotlight the succession of the North Korean leadership, and the national brand of the South seems to have been damaged by negative images connected to the unstable situation in the North.”

The council shared the results of its 2009 survey of 8,230 foreign businesspeople, students and others. The survey asked about people’s associations with Korea, and about 20 percent of the respondents said that the Korean War and North Korean nuclear tests were the first things that came to mind.

“The international community is laughing at the North Korean leader’s succession to his son, and its old-fashioned way in a feudal society,” said Dr. Lee Su-seok, a professor at the Institute for National Security Strategy. “But foreigners don’t distinguish the two Koreas as different countries, which could make South Korea a laughingstock by default.”

The council also said it was worried that the increasing amount of news about North Korea by foreign media could have a negative effect on the South.

According to statistics from the council, 2,716 news reports about North Korea were aired by British or U.S. broadcasters from July to October. Of all the news about two Koreas, news items about North Korea occupied 77.4 percent of the time.

“Many experts expect various scenarios about the unstable political situation in the North, and the concept of ‘an unstable Korean Peninsula’ could spread in the international community,” Lee said.


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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