16 foreigners appointed as honorary diplomats

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16 foreigners appointed as honorary diplomats


Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Kim Sung-hwan, fourth from left, poses with foreign professors and researchers at Korean universities that have been appointed as honorary envoys for public diplomacy yesterday at the ministry building in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. [YONHAP]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade yesterday appointed 16 foreign professors and researchers from Korean universities as honorary envoys for public diplomacy.

The envoys include Otgontsetseg Damdinsuren, assistant professor of Mongolian language at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Brendan Howe, associate professor at Ewha Womans University’s graduate school of international studies, and Jim Kapsalis, associate professor of business administration at Korea University.

“The [so-called] Scholars Group for Public Diplomacy will contribute to introducing Korea and its culture to people overseas and also expanding a positive image of Korea,” the foreign ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Putting together a group of academics as public diplomacy envoys is part of the ministry’s efforts to enhance the country’s soft power, mainly through people-to-people ties and the promotion of culture. According to the ministry, 11 state and public universities and those private universities that have international divisions have nominated a total of 33 professors and researchers and 16 were selected and appointed yesterday by Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan.

It is the first time that the foreign affairs ministry has formed an advisory group on public diplomacy consisting of foreign academics and scholars. All 16 appointed have lived in Korea for a long time and know the culture well.

“It’s an honor to be appointed,” said Professor Howe, who has been living in Korea for over 11 years. “[My role] would be to promote awareness of all the different areas within which Korea provides an example to the rest of the world, in other words, promoting the global Korea brand.”

He thinks Korea has the most to offer in the area of “post-conflict development experience.”

“Most development these days is in the context of post-conflict,” he said, referring not only to the economic miracle on the Han River but also a political and social miracle. “The tremendous experience of Korean development and solidarity is something that can be emulated around the world. [So far], there is no sufficient knowledge of these achievements.”

According to the ministry, the scholar group will act as public diplomacy envoys for a year and will be engaged in various activities.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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