The winners of this year’s awards were Korean golfer Pak Se-ri, artificial intelligence program AlphaGo and Cho Tae-kwon, chairman of porcelain company Kwangjuyo and a promoter of Korean culinary arts.
Since 2005, the event has recognized individuals who have enhanced Korea’s image abroad.
About 700 opinion leaders participated in the event, including former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, US Ambassador Mark Lippert and 60 other envoys and CEOs.
|Winners of the 2017 Korea Image Award, an event annually organized by the Corea Image Communications Institute, pose at the InterContinental Seoul Coex on Wednesday. From left: British Ambassador to Korea Charles Hay, Cho Tae-kwon, chairman of porcelain company Kwangjuyo, golfer Pak Se-ri and CICI President Choi Jung-wha (Corea Image Communications Institute)|
“The world is becoming more closed and protectionist, which is worrisome,” Han said in the opening speech. “But unlike politics and economics, interaction in culture is thriving. It is becoming more open, globalized and boundless. CICI has played a central role in globalizing Korean culture toward a bright future.”
Lippert said in Korean, “Korea’s brand image has risen dramatically with Hallyu. As an ambassador of Korea’s culture and image, CICI has been at the forefront of elevating the country’s soft power.”
Pak, winner of 25 LPGA tournaments, was recognized for inspiring Koreans through her heroic victories during the late 1990s Asian financial crisis, as well as coaching the Korean women’s golf team to its gold medal at the Rio Summer Olympics last year.
“It’s already been 20 years since I stepped on US soil as a professional golfer,” Pak said upon receiving her award. “I believe I am here because of my colleagues’ hard work. Without our grit, guts and dogged pursuit of success, Korea would not have come this far.”
British Ambassador to Korea Charles Hay received the honor in lieu of AlphaGo, the first computer program to beat a human Go player, Lee Se-dol, in a series of matches last year. AlphaGo was developed by artificial intelligence development firm DeepMind.
Cho was honored for his role in globalizing and elevating Korean gastronomic culture, promoting food, drinks and porcelain ware as a single package. His restaurant Gaon received three stars from the 2016 Michelin Guide Seoul, while Bicena won one star from the French gastronomy guidebook.
By Joel Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)