‘Gangnam Style’ offers Korea PR opportunity

Dewey Moore

A U.S. diplomat thinks that now is the time for Seoul to focus on further raising Korea’s global profile as an attractive tourist and investment destination because the Korean wave or “hallyu” knows no bounds.

“Seoul has become a much more cosmopolitan and global type of city as well as Korean culture is being exported overseas with the increasing popularity of movies, TV and music like Psy’s Gangnam Style,” Dewey Moore said in an interview with Korea Times Tuesday.

Gangnam Style, a dance pop song written and performed by singer Psy, has become a global phenomenon since it was released two months ago. More than 100 million people from all around the world have seen the music video so far.

“Even before that, right before I was going to China (on a foreign posting), Wonder Girls were playing a concert in Washington D.C. It is something that you wouldn’t have seen before,” the U.S. diplomat said.

Moore said hallyu helps more people understand more about Korea and what it offers to the world. “Korea will help itself and its economy by making itself well-known.”

The 43-year-old U.S. State Department official joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in August for a one-year exchange program. Before him, Korean diplomat Kim Hye-jin worked with the state department for a year and recently returned home.

Moore said South Korea still has the reputation of being a dangerous place in some parts of the world because of its proximity to North Korea.

Therefore, he said, South Korea needs to make people abroad understand the nation better and gave a positive assessment about the government-led campaign to polish the national image, dubbed Global Korea. “The more people understand Korea, the more likely they can visit Korea.”

The American diplomat stressed that public diplomacy is not something that just governments engage in, but it is something people do when they go abroad. “When anybody goes overseas, you are being a public diplomat because people base their impression of a country on you. For example, when I go and meet somebody, it shapes their view of America. What people are going to remember is how you make them feel.” he said.

He recalled the 1960s when there was a phrase called “Ugly American.” It referred to rude and loud tourists overseas. “They didn’t carry on public diplomacy very well. Of course they were private citizens and didn’t have anything to do with the government. But it’s the larger scale of public diplomacy,” he said. “If we don’t follow the rules that we are supposed to follow, people are going to notice that. How people view us is very important.”

“After 9.11, even before that, the U.S. realized that people intentionally distort what the U.S. does and spread misinformation that is not true. One colleague from a certain country in Africa was telling me that they think white people steal babies, things like that. And there are still people abroad who view Korea as a dangerous place because of the North,” he said. “What public diplomacy does is combat those ideas by promoting understanding and harmony that helps people know about your country better.” <The Korea Times/Jun Ji-hye>


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