[Viewpoint] A new way of talking

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[Viewpoint] A new way of talking

After Park Won-soon won the Seoul mayoral by-election, officials of the city government planned to hold an inauguration ceremony at the main hall of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Park, however, said there was no need, and instead summoned officials in charge of new media, Internet sites and public communication. After Park presented an idea to hold an inauguration ceremony over the Internet, five meetings took place to plan it. And a 54-minute-long docudrama, starring Park, was born.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government didn’t pay a single won for the inauguration. Oh Se-hoon spent 35.92 million ($32,000) won on his inauguration at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts last year.

To broadcast Park’s clip, the city didn’t have to spend any money because various Internet news sites, as well as major portals such as Naver, volunteered to air it real time. Without any spending for promotion and advertisement, it was posted on all major Internet sites in Korea. It is believed that hundreds of thousands of people have watched it. It was the hottest topic in cyberspace Wednesday, and applause resounded through Korea’s online universe.

The video clip was well planned. It has five parts. The first 3 minutes and 30 seconds are devoted to an introduction, where the people’s wishes for the mayor were shown in a montage. The next 18 minutes are sneak peeks of the mayor’s office, shown by Park. A 10-minute inauguration ceremony in the office followed. And the next part was real-time, two-way communication between Park and the public as he read feedback from viewers received through the Internet and social network services. The finale was a surprise event as Park went to Deoksu Palace to meet with flesh and blood Seoulites.

It was a big hit because it was fun. Boredom has no place in cyberspace. Fun comes from unconventionality. The authoritarian feeling of the Seoul mayoral post, built over 60 years, was destroyed in a mouse-click. Because the format was brilliant, the people showed curiosity. It is fun to have a peek into not only the mayor’s office but the sleeping and resting area inside the chamber. The pleasure of showing such prohibited areas and the sincerity of revealing everything were obvious in the video clip.

It also had vibrant details. It comically fast-forwarded a hidden camera record of goings on in the office and credits rolled up at the end as if it were a movie. The ending had cheerful, infectious music.

The viewers enjoyed a fun time, while Mayor Park pulled off a kind of enormous political campaign stunt. While the viewers were laughing and enjoying themselves, Park repeatedly injected his philosophy. He introduced the office space with a monologue, and he sent strong political messages as he pointed to his desk, bookcase, chair, poster and recycled papers. The tilted bookcase represented the polarization of the society, while the sticky notes on the wall were the people’s eyes watching the mayor. The pavement pieces on the bookcase were the symbol of wasteful budget spending.

Because the presentation used visible and tangible symbols, it was convincing. Viewers were attracted to Park’s philosophy without reservation. He presented a report, introducing it as the fruit of his days at a nongovernmental group researching the subway system in Japan. Showing one photo after another, Park promised, “I will make Seoul’s subways as safe as those in Japan.”

Viewers who used subways felt touched. “I haven’t met subway officials yet, so I could not provide the ideas,” Park said. The effect was that viewers’ anticipation grew: they want Park to meet subway officials as soon as possible.

The clip has all factors necessary for a successful communication: fun, sincerity and consistent messages. The end product is sympathy for the new mayor.

Such unconventionality is only possible when the mayor himself is determined to go his own way.

While giving his narrations in the clip, Park repeatedly murmured, “I have never done this before,” and, “Where is the script?” And he made a heart with his two arms and said “I love you.” At times, Park reminds us of the headmaster of a school in a rural village, but not in a dour way. He tries to be perky because he knows how to communicate.

The liberals’ manners and methods of communication are evolving day by day. The Internet inauguration ceremony is more evolved than the “Youth Concerts,” their most recent innovation in communicating with the public. The conservatives have become subjects of ridicule because of repeated slips of the tongue, and they must learn from their political rivals. Anticipation is high that former Grand National Party Chairwoman Park Geun-hye will boost her communication style because she said she would soon talk to university students.

*The writer is a senior editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

by Oh Byung-sang
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