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[Editorial] Far from creative

New national brand hardly appealing

The government has proclaimed “Creative Korea” as the nation’s new slogan. This, like many of its predecessors, is another brainchild of the stupidity of the Korean bureaucracy.

Officials said they collected ideas and suggestions from the public and experts to find words best represent the country. Three words came up in the shortlist: “creativity,” “passion” and “harmony.”

But few would agree that the three words best portray the most unique and distinctive image of Korea and its people. Even fewer people would share the view of the officials that creativity should be the core word among the three.

Yes. Korea indeed is the country that developed the world’s first armored battle ship, used movable metal type before the Germans developed it for the Gutenberg Bibles, devised an indigenous alphabet and generated the Korean Wave or hallyu syndrome.

But how many would agree that Korea has such outstanding creativity as to distinguish itself from the rest of the world?

To be frank, creativity is one issue that is often mentioned when discussing problems in our society – especially the education system which is too geared toward university entrance and cramming for exams.

We don’t have to be too hard on ourselves, but Korea has yet to have a Nobel laureate in science, medicine or economics, and this is partly attributed to the lack of effort to foster creativity in the education system and society as a whole.

In short, creativity is not something that one can easily associate with Korea, but something we should try to achieve or improve in all aspects of individual and social lives. 

There is a more fundamental problem with the branding -- almost every administration regards the brand as its own property.  

Creative Korea is only the latest in a breed of short-lived slogans that had been adopted by the Korean government, including “Dynamic Korea,” “Korea, Sparkling,” “Korea, Be Inspired” and “Imagine Your Korea.”

Of them, Dynamic Korea, which was adopted before the 2002 World Cup finals, was accepted relatively well, but the government has not used it since 2009. In other words, the national brand was adopted by the liberal Kim Dae-jung administration (1998-2003) and was ditched by the conservative Lee Myung-bak administration (2008-2013).

The Park administration too has been faithful in following the tradition of discrediting whatever had been done by previous administrations and trying to leave its own legacy. 

One of the key words of the legacy Park wants to build is creative, as seen in her much-touted “creative economy.” It would not be a coincidence officials picked the word to name the new national brand.

The government will have spent about 3.5 billion won ($3 million) for promoting “Creative Korea” by buying air time at global networks like CNN and BBC and utilizing other mediums and events, including the Rio Summer Olympics.

What saddens us is that once again chances are high that taxpayers’ money will have been wasted for a national brand which will most likely be ditched by whoever wins the next presidential election in late 2017.