By Mahnoor Masood
The aim of public diplomacy in international relations is to approach the people’s diplomacy augmented by means of soft power, knowledge, media, art and language. In this fast-changing world, the key elements of diplomatic strategy are soft power. Imperatively, soft power assets relate the concern of public diplomacy through attraction and inducement. These assets involve nation branding, culture and national values.
Nation branding is a major trend that places brands to promote the country’s whole image on the international stage covering political, economic and cultural dimensions. Considering Nation branding as a powerful political tool and a strategic tool; the Republic of Korea has been expanding diplomatic horizons by meaningful networks with civic leaders, students, media and business representation in foreign countries.
Democratic political system of the Republic of Korea with free elections and peaceful transfer of power between political parties. Well protected Human rights as is freedom of speech, advancement in communication and technologies is portraying an image of legitimacy in diplomatic arenas and is obtaining a legitimate seat in multilateral negotiation and decision making. The republic of Korea’s dynamic development provides the instance of the ROK-US alliance.
Koreans soft power diplomacy can be understood by its active sports diplomacy as it plans to host international athletic games 2018 Winter Olympics and this is expected to bring high economic gains and enhance the nation’s brand value because sports diplomacy helps to promote national prestige and as a good consequence it is a key to improving relationships with other countries.
I would like to mention the Korean Wave which is one of the valuable soft power assets of the Republic of Korea. The Korean Wave refers to the fast growing popularity of Korean entertainment and culture which was first driven by TV dramas followed by movies pop music and food. The Korean Wave is spreading as a cultural phenomenon from Japan, China and Southeast Asia to Europe and Latin America. The Korean government developmental strategies and different policies are aiming at transforming the ROK into a first-class capitalist country and the nation branding is serving the concern crucially to step towards the fully competitive globalized capitalist state.
Apart from its excellency, a blurred and sometimes negative image of Korea was portrayed in past in the early 2000’s in Europe and United States to the North Korea and South Korea in association with the nuclear crisis in North Korea. Only 36% of Americans and 54% of Europeans knew in 2009 that Samsung was a Korean brand in contrast with 80% of Asians. But now the Samsung is the most famous widely used brand in the whole world.
A successful nation brand is assumed to be able to compete for international capital: tourist, investment, import-export trade etc. The Korean culture is attractive so far. The traditions of Korean art, craft and cuisine have already spread around the world .Korean popular culture has also crossed borders in neighboring Asian countries particularly young people-the growing popularity of all Korean things, from fashion and film to music and cuisine. Coordinated Korean government efforts are managing country’s image in order to promote tourism, investment and foreign relations.
According to general consensus, nation branding is considered as augmented propaganda or more accurately an inoffensive way of building, promoting and managing nation’s image. In other words, capitalist globalization, branding and commercial competition can easily become” the continuation of warfare by other names” It should not be forgotten that citizens can be targets of developmental mobilization even under a constitution democratic regime. However Korea has beginning to design a foreign policy that will allow it to play a larger role in the international institutions and networks that will be crucial to global governance.
Soft power is not a prisoner such limitations and the ROK has triggered widespread interests in the nation and people-to-people exchanges have increased. The success of Korean wave demonstrates that public diplomacy plays an important role in improving mutual understanding, boosting economic and political cooperation. Of course, as in all public diplomacy activates it must be a “two-way street” in order to bear meaningful fruit.
The Republic of Korea depends on the citizens to continue to develop and diversify the methods of public diplomacy in the project of creating modern Korea as a strong player in the game of restless international competitiveness.