The Korean Culture and Information Service on Tuesday released the results of a survey showing that 76.7 percent of non-Koreans have a positive image of South Korea.
The survey involved 8,000 people in 16 countries, including South Korea, from July 18 to Aug. 22 last year.
KOCIS began the annual survey in 2018 to assess South Korea’s image among global citizens. In the first survey, 80.3 percent of non-Koreans said they had a positive image of South Korea.
The latest survey also showed that 64.8 percent of South Koreans had a positive image of their own country, an increase of about 10 percentage points from the previous year.
Thirty-eight percent of non-Korean respondents cited South Korean pop culture -- including K-pop, movies and literature -- as the main factor influencing South Korea’s image while 14.6 percent pointed to its economic prosperity and 14 percent to its cultural heritage.
For the latest survey, four Southeast Asian countries were added to the list of countries where the survey was carried out: Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines. This reflected the expansion of exchanges with those countries through recent events such as the Korea-ASEAN Special Summit.
People from Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates viewed South Korea positively, with more than 88 percent saying they had a positive image of the country.
But more than 50 percent of Japanese respondents said they had a negative image of South Korea, an increase from 43.4 percent in 2018.
The government information agency attributed the change in part to two 2019 Supreme Court decisions, which held that Japanese companies were obligated to pay damages to South Korean victims of wartime slave labor. Japan subsequently imposed restrictions on exports of key industrial materials to South Korea.
When asked how South Korea could improve its national image, the majority of foreign respondents answered that South Korea should peacefully resolve its issues with North Korea.
The Korean Culture and Information Service added that it was meaningful to see people from countries such as Australia, the UK and Mexico responding that it was important to increase tourism promotion in order to improve South Korea’s image.
The agency said it would use the results of the survey to conduct more localized promotions and cultural exchange programs. It also said it would support active cultural exchanges with Japan despite the ongoing political and diplomatic tensions.
By Song Seung-hyun (email@example.com