Lessons from the Presidents Cup

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Lessons from the Presidents Cup

On Oct. 9, a press briefing on President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the United States was held at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

The focus was on pending issues between Seoul and Washington as well as the prospect of the meeting. However, another topic was the Presidents Cup in Songdo, Incheon. After the briefing, CSIS Korea Chair Victor Cha highly praised the golf match. Foreign reporters attending the briefing also celebrated Korea’s first hosting of the Presidents Cup in Asia.

At a restaurant in Washington, an American gave me a thumbs up and said the Presidents Cup was the best.

For six days last week, the NBCUniversal-owned Golf Channel broadcast the event live to 120 million households in 83 countries. About 1 billion golf fans watched the Presidents Cup across 226 countries and in 32 languages. It’s rare 1 billion people to watch a sporting event.

The Golf Channel anchor praised the condition of the golf course, the event’s management and the manners of the Korean galleries.

Another highlight were videos introducing Korea and Incheon, which aired during the breaks. It contained images of tourist attractions in Incheon and other landmarks like Namdaemun. They were shown repeatedly, the same video played throughout the day for a week. That’s a fantastic promotion for the country.

Diplomacy doesn’t have to be complicated. Korea’s status as an advanced global power and the alliance between Korea and the United States was propagated all over the world.

The teamwork of Korea’s Bae Sang-moon and Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama against Team USA was also noteworthy. Bae cheered for Matsuyama’s shot and Matsuyama embraced Bae after putting.

The leaders of Korea and Japan can learn from that friendship. Their partnership symbolically showed that the power of both nations would be that much greater if we just joined forces and worked together.

The successful hosting of the Presidents Cup provides a simple yet important lesson: When we move first, the other party reacts. We cannot gain attention or inspire change without being a key player on the international stage.

The North Korea issue needs that same kind of attention - and that’s why we are closely watching how President Park Geun-hye’s visit to the United States will play out.

The author is the Washington bureau chief
for the JoongAng Ilbo.

JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 14, Page 33

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