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Around the world, Hallyu boosts the image of Korea

Feb 05,2020
이미지뷰
Kim Tae-hoon, director of the Korean Culture and Information Service (Kocis), speaking at the Foreign Press Center Korea in central Seoul on Feb. 27, 2019. [YONHAP]
Three out of four people outside of Korea had positive feelings about Korea, the Korean Culture and Information Service (Kocis) said through its annual report released on Tuesday.

Kocis - a subsidiary of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism - conducted an online questionnaire of 8,000 people in 16 countries including Korea last year, surveying how people thought of Korea and why. The survey began in 2018.

According to this year’s report, 76.7 percent of people overseas said that they thought of Korea positively. Although the number went down 3.6 percentage points compared to last year, the percentage of Korean people who assessed Korea positively rose by over 10 percentage points, from 54.4 percent last year to 64.8 percent this year.

The main contributors to Korea’s positive image was pop music (K-pop), movies, culture and other cultural contents with 38.2 percent, followed by the economy with 14.6 percent, cultural heritage with 14 percent and Korean products and brands with 11.6 percent.

In fact, 12.5 percent of those polled said that K-pop and K-pop singers were the first things that came to mind when thinking of Korea, followed by hansik (traditional Korean food) with 8.5 percent and cultural heritage with 6.5 percent.

Korean pop culture was the easiest introduction to Korea, as 37.8 percent of interviewees answered they could most easily understand K-pop, movies and dramas, followed by the economy (16.8 percent), national security (13.9 percent) and cultural heritage (10.5 percent). Russia had the most positive feedback, with a whopping 94.8 percent, followed by India with 91.8 percent and Brazil with 91.6 percent. Korea’s neighbors had the lowest numbers of positive feedback - China had 61.6 percent and Japan had 18.8 percent.

Yet, improvements need to be made in the political and diplomatic fields. Negative feedback came mostly from North Korean nuclear issues, with 27.8 percent, then the political situation with 18.2 percent and the global reputation of Korea with 14.5 percent. In a similar but different question on how Korea could better its global reputation, 33.8 answered that Korea should solve its South-North issue in a peaceful manner, while 15.1 percent answered that people needed to take on a friendlier attitude towards foreigners.

“We have found that Hallyu [the Korean Wave] is the keyword in representing Korea around the globe,” Kocis said. “Through this survey result, we will analyze our strengths and weaknesses according to the different fields and increase country-to-country cooperation. We will also carry out our overseas promotion according to the different regions. We will especially provide support to make sure that cultural transactions in the private sector flourish amid political and diplomatic tensions.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]