Nation’s global image just averageWhat is the impression the world has of Korea? The country has taken the world by storm with its innovative electronic gadgets and catchy K-pop tunes, but at the same time it is still affected by the consequences of the 1950-53 Korean War and fluctuating tensions with Pyongyang.
“Technology” was the top word that came up in regard to describing Korea, according to an image survey released yesterday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by “Samsung,” the tech behemoth and leading smartphone maker, and “war.”
Fourth runner-up were Psy and his hit “Gangnam Style” - the music video of which went viral on Youtube in 2012 and currently has more than 2 billion views.
Korea’s overall image tallied 3.03 points, an average score, according to the government-commissioned survey conducted by Samjong KPMG, a Korea-based consulting firm affiliated with the Swiss KPMG International Cooperative, from October to November 2013.
The poll surveyed 6,000 adults ages 18 and over in 17 foreign countries in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Americas.
Participants represented Vietnam, India, Australia, Germany, Poland, Turkey, South Africa, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Egypt and the Gulf Cooperation Council nations.
India, with 3.48 points, Vietnam with 3.41 and Turkey with 3.26 had the best perception of Korea on a five-point scale. At the other end, Egypt had the worst, at 2.55 points, followed by Germany at 2.7 and Poland at 2.84.
People generally didn’t have a negative image of South Korea, with 39 percent surveyed saying they had positive views and 45.8 percent a neutral impression. Only 15.2 percent claimed to have a negative image.
Nearly half of those surveyed believed there “is a threat of war on the Korean Peninsula.” Some 46.7 percent thought there could be a war at some time between the two Koreas, whereas 40.2 percent thought not.
When asked if respondents could “easily distinguish” between South Korea and North Korea in the news, film and other media, 42.6 percent surveyed responded they could. But nearly a third, or 30.2 percent of respondents, said they could not.
The report was revealed at the Press Center in central Seoul yesterday by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Samjong KPMG, where officials, analysts and professors discussed public diplomacy strategies to improve the country’s public image.
The Foreign Ministry pointed out that the Korean wave, or Hallyu, and K-pop didn’t make it as high up on the list because of the countries chosen for the survey.
The United States, China, Japan and Russia, the major powers with which Korea has strong relations, were not included in the survey.
“There is a tendency for Korea’s image to be higher in countries where Hallyu is more popular, so there needs to be more effort to draw attention through cultural phenomenon,” said an official at the ministry.
There is a need to improve the image of Korea and satisfy the world’s expectations as a middle-power country,” the report by KPMG added. “Conducting public diplomacy catered toward each region is necessary.”
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]