Dutch middle-school textbooks on history and geography had depicted South Korea as a cheap-labor economy dependent on fish processing. This was up until South Korean diplomats successfully persuaded the publishers to update their texts two years ago, officials at the foreign ministry here said Wednesday.
Now, South Korea is portrayed as a "rich country" that produces cutting-edge smartphones and digital televisions.
In another similar case, 11 Spanish middle- and high-school course books were revised last year to drop their depiction of South Korea as part of China's territory and remove erroneous classification of the Northeast Asian country as a nation where the majority of the population lives in poverty, the officials said.
These cases were only part of the South Korean government's successful attempts in recent years to improve its national image across the globe through its public diplomacy efforts.
The unconventional diplomacy approach reaches out to the hearts and minds of common people, rather than to typical government players, capitalizing on soft assets like culture and knowledge, according to ministry officials.
South Korea expects the country's public diplomacy to make a big leap forward with the legislation of the first public diplomacy law, which goes into effect on Thursday, they said.