Governments around the world endeavor to form a just public diplomacy; the communication between the foreign ministry and foreign nations to promote its agenda. Ideally, it’s utilized to foster a better image of themselves to maintain long-term alliance relationships and create general goodwill with nearby countries. Such methods include public diplomacy dedicated campaigns initiated by government organizations and the promotion of certain cultures to build foreign support for immediate policy objectives.
An example of a country that consistently uses public diplomacy to enhance the foreign nationals’ understanding is the Republic of Korea. However, its current progress in public diplomacy can be largely rebuked. How well is South Korea promoting themselves through public diplomacy? On the contrary, what are some limitations on their movement? Are they using effective methods to improve its public diplomacy practices? Most importantly, how can we, the millennials, contribute to its development?
One of the key advantages of Korea’s public diplomacy is the establishment of the “Act on Public Diplomacy” passed at the National Assembly’s Foreign Affairs and Unification Committee. This act thoroughly states to establish a systematic groundwork in the national dimension. Concerning with this act, Korea succeeded in a way that it has inserted a vigorous stance towards the Dokdo issue, thus counterclaiming that they have not been “illegally occupying Dokdo and unlawfully controlling the surrounding waters”. By creating a firm position towards the controversy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was able to make full use of its diplomatic capacity of the public and gain the support of other foreign societies public diplomacy targets.
Further elaborating on Korea’s “Act on Public Diplomacy”, lack of concrete strategy can be conspicuously seen from the South Korean government’s public diplomacy. Currently, there is a need for cooperation among paramount organizations relevant to public diplomacy. As they all want to lead the policies and activities regarding the exchange of Korean culture, there exists an overlapping jurisdiction of the same sector.
Consequently, the government faces challenges when trying to promote to both the Western and African society as the same strategy is being applied to the two cases. This, tremendously affecting the government’s role in leading the country, can be seen as rather frail and ineffective. For South Korea to overcome this limitation, it is crucial for them to plan their own procedure of public diplomacy rather than striving to gain benefits from the sources founded by an organizational group.
The high-technological revolution that is shaping today’s society provides a strong incentive for us, the millennials, to take action in the social media-based public diplomacy in Korea. Public diplomacy is being practiced through social media more prevalently than before, as it allows for a better intimate integration with the foreign public by inviting immediate reaction from them.
With the numerous advantages behind the use of social media in public diplomacy, millennials find the implementation of social media tools easier than other age groups since they are more exposed to modern technology; they were born and have been living with the internet ever since it was invented, unlike other generations. Such social media-based actions include clicking the share, like, and comment button in a social media network to “spread the word” of the Korean culture. Specifically, this action allows scholars to assess how well Korean culture is being promoted to the global public by analyzing the reactions of the targeted audience.
Diverse realms of public diplomacy exist within South Korea to enhance its national image and increase its influence in favor of the global public. Although the resources available are limited to the government, policymakers are beginning to recognize the importance of public diplomacy as it makes a great way to contribute to the development of South Korea’s reputation. It is essential for the government to further strengthen its public awareness campaigns by forming better coordination across the government to project a bright future for South Korea.
Jessica Kim, Grade 11
Chadwick International School