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How do you promote Korean culture post-COVID-19?

Participants of the symposium on Korean culture promotion in the post-COVID-19 era held Wednesday in Seoul (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)
Participants of the symposium on Korean culture promotion in the post-COVID-19 era held Wednesday in Seoul (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism)

The Korean Academic Society for Public Relations on Wednesday held a symposium to discuss promoting Korean culture in the post COVID-19 era.

The event was sponsored by the Korean Culture and Information Service.

“Next year is the 50th anniversary of the establishment of KOCIS. It is meaningful to have discussions like this at this time,” said Choi Yoon-hee, second vice minister of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.

During the talk, Eulji University’s public relations and design professor Yoo Jae-woong introduced a recent promotional video created by KOCIS that enjoyed success. The video titled “Korea, Wonderland?” which mainly introduces Korea’s experience battling COVID-19, reached over 3.9 million views as of Wednesday.

“The success is due to the contents being relevant. There is no place in the world that is not experiencing the pandemic,” Yoo said. “Also the timing was great. The video came out in March and that was the time that many countries started experiencing difficulties.”

Yoo also added that KOCIS’ recent promotion was a success as it used the right media channel, YouTube, which can appeal to the global audience.

Analyzing the video in greater detail, professor Lee Byung-jong of Sookmyung Women’s University Graduate School of International Service, explained that the video could appeal to global audiences more logically as it provides detailed information and background of Korea’s situation, system and experiences.

“The video provides detailed examples of hardships that Koreans have been through and background to help foreigners understand the situation better. Also, it provided rebuttals for those who criticize that the Korean government is restricting the privacy of individuals while tackling the COVID-19 situation.” Lee said.

“Successfully tackling the COVID-19 situation is also important. But there are also lots of other countries that did a great job preventing the spread of the virus, such as Taiwan, New Zealand and Germany. But Korea was able to receive spotlight due to successfully delivering its message,” Lee added.

Lee also pointed out that Korea’s situation was promoted effectively as experts from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directly explained the ongoing situation. “In the US, the situation was explained by President Trump, which decreased credibility.”

However, some experts expressed concerns about the current and future promotion done unilaterally by the Korean government.

“We are drawing lots of attention and that is true. But just delivering a message is not enough. PR also includes the relationship afterward. It is great that the video got lots of views but we have to now watch the feedback,” Yu Hyun-Jae, a professor of mass communication at Sogang University said. “When singer Psy became popular globally, I asked foreigners if they knew about Psy. They responded that they know him but were tired of people asking. I think our promotion should not be like that,” he added.

“They say that they are communicating, but it is more like noticing. And it is largely done unilaterally by the government. This has to change and the citizens should be involved,” said media communication professor Chung Won-jun of University of Suwon. “Maybe we can use influencers to spread and promote.”

“No matter how much information our university provides to foreign students, we found they have more trust in reviews of other students who studied in our university. We have to pay attention to why this happens.” Chung added.

By Song Seung-hyun (