Posted: August 2nd, 2022

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SouthKoreaCultureAnalysiscopy xTheRoleofSoftPowerinSouthKorea3 essay31 x

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Exportation of South Korean Culture

Introduction

South Korean culture is gaining access and recognition at the local and regional levels worldwide. The culture spread in many parts of the world influences different people’s perceptions of South Korea (Lee & Choong p 185). There is also an impact of more appreciation and more quest to learn more about South Korea. The main concepts that promote South Korean culture’s exportation are the use of soft power and the consistency in ensuring a dynamic Korea. The paper explores South Korean cultural aspects, the application of soft power by South Korea, factors influencing the spread of the culture, and the exportation of the culture

Aspects of South Korean Culture

Different cultures across the world have different aspects. South Korean culture has unique aspects, making it interesting and attractive to many people. There is a widespread South Korean culture in how people carry themselves, the daily activities in business, music, dressing code, foods, communication, and interrelationships (Macdonald et al p 100). People of South Korea usually value discipline. People carry on with their daily activities and live uniquely and respectfully. The discipline has a role in ensuring consistency and appreciation of visitors. The culture also consists of unique dressing codes which are attractive. The dressing codes are specific to different occasions. At religious festivals and parties, people usually wear red clothes with flowery exhibitions at the top to symbolize a joyous mood.

The cultural foods are also diverse. There are a lot of delicacies in the country which have recognition in the international arena. The foods range from seafood to homemade and industrial foods. The culture also consists of special music and films. The music reflects the culture and the different aspects of the real-life world (Lee & Seow p 10). The films analyze, contrast, and explain Korean issues in other languages, promoting appreciation of the culture. The business sector is also part of cultural integration, which usually focuses on trading the local culture.

Application of Soft Power by South Korea

Different concepts are basics for the cultural dynamism in a cultural dynamism. In South Korean culture, soft power is an inevitable interrelation of the culture. Soft power is the ability of the culture to be of interest in different parts of the world (Wu & Irene p 2). Soft power aspects can also limit the exportation of the culture in some ways. The country focuses on its specific goals through the use of culture. The parts of the culture that have specific recognition worldwide include good morality, institutional appealing modes, good political inclusivity, fairness, and effective government support. The South Korean government also recognizes the dynamism in world culture and the need to learn more. There are a lot of scholars who are interested in culture.

To be part of exploration, the country welcomes many studies in exchange for other ideas. The concept of soft power in South Korean culture is the ability to recognize the short-term and long-term effects of cultural globalization (Wu & Irene p 2). The specific and clear benefits are direct to the nation. The benefits of cultural dynamism and globalization outweigh the risks. The nation also strives to analyze the efficiency of the local culture and the ability to influence the regional and the international community. The analysis also forms the basis for steering the culture as part of the soft power impact.

Factors Influencing the Spread of South Korean Culture

Several factors influence the spread of South Korean culture. The factors are from the local and the international perspective. The local factors are also the citizen and the governmental roles. On the aspect of the citizens, the people of South Korea are industrious more than other people in different countries across the world (Lee & Choong p 185). One factor that increases the ability to increase the handwork is the need to overcome the stiff competition for resources due to the ever-increasing population in the country. The handwork forms the basis of the admiration of South Korea by other people across the world. The presence and use of public diplomacy also promote South Korean culture’s spread. The country promotes different and unique projections towards different states, making it conducive to learning about the culture. Diplomacy also increases cooperation among the local people and the people interested in the culture.

The other factor which promotes the spread of the culture is the branding of Korea specifically to the culture and other aspects. The main role of branding is to distinguish the unique national culture from other local and international cultures. The government also promotes the branding of the culture, which increases regional and international recognition. South Korea also has a lot of rich cultures like music, food, and films, making it interesting to learn about the culture (Lee & Seow p 10). The country also has a conducive environment for doing business. The conduciveness is due to the exclusive existence of peace. The other important factor which promotes the culture is the use of media. The media promotes and represents the culture. The country also welcomes many scholars and students who want to learn the Korean culture. The scholars promote or reduce the spread of the culture through different identifications.

Exportation of the South Korean culture and integration

Exportation of the South Korean culture is the ability of the culture to spread and integrate into different parts of the world. The export can be in terms of movies, films, and music. The use of the Korean wave is one of the spread and exportation of the culture. The method promotes the penetration of cultural products into the global markets. The country also uses the other strategies from other countries like China and Japan. Cultural hybridization is part of the spread of Korean culture. Hybridization is key to accepting the unique part of the Korean culture (Lee & Hye-Kyung p 90). The culture attains the ability to integrate the local and international culture in a well-blended manner. The government also allows the production and exportation of different cultural products to promote the exportation of the local culture. The exportation also receives critics from different perspectives. The critics are from the perspective of the similarity of the Korean culture to other cultures like Japan and America.

Conclusion

The exportation of the South Korean language is a key factor in its cultural globalization. There is a push of the culture to be on a different quality level exclusively and positively. The analysis of the cultural aspects of the South Korean culture paves the way for more understanding of the culture. The aspects of the culture include music, films, and movies. The use of soft power is also part of promoting cultural spread. The factors that promote the spread of the South Korean culture lie mainly in the government’s roles and the level of interrelations. The globalization of the Korean culture depends on the methods of exportation. The globalization of cultures promotes cooperation and good relations worldwide for a better living.

Works Cited

Lee, Choong Y. “Korean culture and its influence on business practice in South Korea.” The Journal of International Management Studies 7.2 (2012): 184-191.

http://www.jimsjournal.org/21%20Choong%20Y.%20Lee

Lee, Hye-Kyung. Cultural policy in South Korea: Making a new patron state. Routledge, 2018.

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9781315736617/cultural-policy-south-korea-hye-kyung-lee

Lee, Seow Ting. “Film as cultural diplomacy: South Korea’s nation branding through Parasite (2019).” Place Branding and Public Diplomacy (2021): 1-12. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1057/s41254-020-00192-1

Macdonald, Donald Stone, and Donald N. Clark. The Koreans: Contemporary politics and society. Routledge, 2018.

https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780429492808/koreans-donald-stone-macdonald-donald-clark

Wu, Irene S. “Soft power amidst great power competition.” Washington, DC (2018): 20004-3027.

https://www.wilsoncenter.org/sites/default/files/media/documents/publication/2018-05-soft_power_-_wu

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ThE ROLE OF sOFT POWER
IN DEFINING ThE IMaGE OF ThE REPUbLIC OF KOREa 1

Lucie Šarmanová

Abstract: This article discusses the concept of soft power as applied to the case of the
Republic of Korea. South Korea, defined as a middle power, strives to make itself visible
in the international milieu by focusing on soft power and multilateral cooperation
with other countries. One of the tools for such policies is the Korean wave (or hallyu)
which refers to the increased export of Korean cultural products (mainly popular mu-
sic, dramas and films) to the rest of Asia and to the world. Through hallyu, an image
of a modern and cool Korea is built which attracts foreign tourists and students, and
helps the branding of the nation as well as Korean products. The author introduces the
various strategies, channels, institutions and impacts of Korean recent nation-branding
policies and their soft power implications.

Keywords: soft power, middle power, Hallyu, Republic of Korea

Introduction
Soft power is one of the commonly used terms in international relations these days.
In the case of the Republic of Korea, with the compliance with of one of the coun-
try’s slogans “Dynamic Korea”, awareness of Korean culture is no longer a regional
phenomenon, having spread to different countries.  It is also gaining visibility in
Europe thanks to its unique character, as well as being an area of interest among
professors and academics across the world. Therefore, it is ever more important to
discuss it and with the growing influence of Korean economics in the world and also
understand the strategies, that are generated in the cultural field, and their goals.

The goal of this paper is to find out the role of soft power in shaping the image
of the country in the international milieu. Therefore, it is necessary to first introduce
the topic of soft power, discuss its characteristics and related terms, such as public
diplomacy, branding, or smart power. The following part introduces specifics of
the Korean way to globalize its popular culture and the position of the country in
the international community. South Korea is defined as a middle power; therefore,
middle powers concept is introduced and specific examples of Korea’s interna tional
behavior supporting its positions are elaborated. Finally, the Korean brand as a part
of the nation’s branding is discussed. In this article, the role of the state and con-
glomerates in spreading Korean popular music globally will be pointed out because
their conscious support makes the Korean soft power more interesting and its tena-

1 This paper is an extract of a master’s diploma thesis written by the author at the Jan Masaryk
Centre of International Studies, University if Economics, Prague (2014).

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city in the attempts to distance from the historical traumas with the speed of one’s
own is rather fascinating.

Characteristics of soft power
Power is defined as “an ability to influence the behavior of others in order to get
desired results” 2 and it is traditionally measured by the size of population, area,
military, economic power, and social stability. Power depends on context and with
modern times, it became less tangible and coercion less effective. Hard power, which
means economic and military power of a country, has been changing: while military
power in the globalized world is less significant (albeit still crucial), dependence
on economic market forces has been increasing. This fact depends however on the
extent of engagement in global markets. 3

According to the American political scientist Joseph Nye, 4 soft power politics is
a way of achieving your goals by being admired by other countries for your values,
culture, openness, and level of welfare. The soft power concept describes the ability
to change the preferences of others and make others want to cooperate and achieve
the same results. Appealing personalities, culture, political values and institutions,
legitimate politics, or moral authority can build a country’s soft power. As an “at-
tractive power” it is, however, in comparison with military and economic power
intangible even though its intangibility is not a necessary condition. 5

Other potential sources of power consist of government strategies at home and
abroad. It is highly influenced by foreign politics of the country and it has both
short-term and long-term effects, which can be changed with a context. Government
strategies of soft power both support and harm it, which is dependent on its values
and approach. But effectiveness is unsure and cannot guarantee success of a country
abroad. If a country enjoys a good reputation abroad, it supports its prestige and can
facilitate acceptance of its unpopular and risky measures. Help to other na tions and
individuals to reach their ambitions are the best way of strengthening the reputation
of America abroad, for instance. 6 In long-term national interests, soft power brings
wider benefits.

Despite the fact that the term soft power was coined by Joseph Nye, the concept
existed before he did so. The classical realist Edward Carr called it a power over
opinion, 7 which is as important as military and economic power and connected with

2 Nye, Joseph: Soft Power: The Means to success in World Politics, 6.
3 Nye, Joseph: Limits of American Power, 551.
4 Nye, Joseph: Soft Power: The Means to success in World Politics, 6–8.
5 Parmar, Inderjeet: Soft Power and US Foreign Policy: Theoretical, historical and Contem-
porary Perspectives, 216.
6 Armitage, Richard: CSIS Commission on Smart Power- How American can become a smarter
power, 5.
7 Carr, Edward: The Twenty Years’ Crisis 1919–1939: An Introduction to the Study of Inter-
national Relations, 132 and 141.

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them. Its loss can be negative also for hard power. According to Carr, 8 morals and
state’s opinions also influence the decisions of the state. Hans Morgenthau elabo-
rated on the importance of prestige and pursued different ways to deal with a threat. 9
International morality and world public opinion is for him important to keep inter-
national status. Neorealist Kenneth Waltz also recognizes that material power “does
not always have to be the most effective in achieving main goals of a nation.” 10 The
philosopher and economist Kenneth Boulding distinguished coercive, exchangeable
(trade, mutual contracts and cooperation), and integrative power (through human
relations on all levels). According to realists, soft power is meaningless without
economic and military influence. 11

Public diplomacy is a soft power’s tool and “an activity aimed at creating and
influencing positive projections of a given state, its values and activities, which it
represents among foreign publics.” 12 Public diplomacy is successful among coun-
tries which are mutually dependent on each other (economically or politically) and
connected through transnational bonds. 13 Strategies of public diplomacy are talking,
listening, conversation, and cooperation and it aims at publics abroad and builds
on mutual trust of both parties which helps create long-term relations abroad. 14
The goal of public diplomacy is to maximize national interests thanks to building
cooperation with civil societies in other countries and facilitating relations among
non-governmental actors at home and abroad. 15 Through its methods, public diplo-
macy not only helps maximize national interests, it is also a way to be a reliable and
trustworthy player in multilateral world. Soft power (attractiveness or motivation
to follow one’s example) is a source of public diplomacy and the soft power tools are
diplomatic measures and foreign aid (humanitarian operations).

In connection with public diplomacy, we should also mention the “branding”
of countries. The term branding, sometimes also nation-branding, focuses on the
reputation of a country and presentation of its position abroad. The reputation of
a country also becomes a part of its foreign politics and also plays a role in assessing
a country’s position in international relations. Countries more and more realize the
importance of national identity in a globalized world and bringing its uniqueness to
attention. The goal of branding is “creation of an identity and its subsequent presen-
tation.” 16 In the case of South Korea, the government actively strives to change the
look at the country and soft power became the “national brand”. In order to support

8 Melissen, Jan: Public Diplomacy and Soft Power in East Asia, 13.
9 Ibid, 13.
10 Ibid, 14.
11 Waltz, Kenneth: Theory of International Politics, 190.
12 Peterková, Jana: Public Diplomacy: A Buzzword or Real Change?, 87.
13 Melissen, Jan: The New Public Diplomacy: Between Theory and Practice, 10.
14 Ibid, 16.
15 Ibid, 22.
16 Peterková, Jana: Veřejná diplomacie, 19.

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it, the government created in 2009 Presidential Council on Nation Branding, 17 whose
chairman’s goal is that the country “truly becomes one of the most important leading
countries in the world” 18 and its fulfilling shall be an investment for the future.

Even though hard power competences are important, they cannot guarantee
safety in today’s context. On the contrary, by creating alliances of states, state and
non-state actors get a comparative advantage in today’s world. Thanks to connect-
ing hard and soft abilities in “smart power”, countries can better solve current and
future problems. 19 Smart power is nor hard nor soft and achieves goals by “skillful
combination of both“. Smart power is characterized by strong military power but
finds alliances, partner cooperation, and institutions at all levels important. With
the help of these sources, it helps spread the influence and create legitimacy for
its members in order to do global good. Multilateral consultations are considered
more effective ways to create soft power and legitimacy than unilateral promoting of
values. 20 It is primarily important to be a credible partner. Ernest Wilson, describing
the importance of smart power in American politics, considers soft power a less
sophisticated power, 21 which is in comparison with smart power of less importance.
In the case of the Republic of Korea, the discussion about smart power is meaningful
because the country thinks of its modern culture as a business model. According
to the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “culture has risen as an indispensable
element of a nation’s competitiveness and economic resource that produces added
value.” 22 The government strives to increase its economic power and its orienta-
tion on economic growth by supporting culture and therefore does not create soft
power in original meaning of the term. 23 Korean modern culture is then considered
as a unique mixture of economics, culture and soft power which “cannot be called
hard power but is not completely soft.” 24

In this place, it is also important to think about the efficiency of Korean culture.
Even though a culture helps increase an awareness of a country in the global scale,
the question remains what kind of influence can this fact have on other goals of the
country and how can a culture penetrate also among those who do not sympathize
with it. Korean culture can be effective if its fans follow the Korean example or
so cialize through the culture. The country should also freely connect its national
identity with a modern culture in order to raise the chance to be followed by others. 25

17 Kim, Andrew: Catching up to the Korean Wave? The Pursuit of Soft Power in East Asia, 70.
18 Presidential Council on Nation Branding: Improvements in nation branding begin today
(online).
19 The term is used mainly for an American foreign strategy of following national security
interests – in CSIS: Smart Power Initiative (online).
20 Melissen, Jan: Public Diplomacy and Soft Power in East Asia, 13.
21 Wilson, Ernest: Hard Power, Soft Power, Smart Power, 120.
22 Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Culture: Overview (online).
23 Kim, Andrew: Catching up to the Korean Wave? The Pursuit of Soft Power in East Asia, 70.
24 Ibid, 71.
25 Sohn, Yul: Engaging Hallyu: Theoretical and Practical Challenges, 4.

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Globalization of Korean culture
Hallyu, or the Korean wave, provokes general debates on globalization in East Asia.
In the case of Korean wave, prevailing neoliberalism is considered the change in po-
litical and economic system, responsible for spreading hallyu in East Asia, connected
with opening primarily Asian cultural markets toward foreign imports in 1990s. The
competitiveness in culture and the investments to it had been increasing. 26 Cultural
production has become significant and media, economics, or technology started to
be influenced by globalization and by the common community identity.

In conformity with the theory of globalization, hallyu is a part of globalization
and it depends on each country if it accepts it or not. In the 1990s, Asian countries
began to open towards the influences of foreign cultures. The Korean cultural in-
dustry as well followed this trend and started to export its cultural products, that is to
other countries of East Asia – to China, Japan and Taiwan – and then further. Export
articles 27 do not only consist of popular culture but also the digital games industry,
books publishing, and radio broadcasting. Globalization contributes to spreading
hallyu in China, Japan, and Taiwan besides other things thanks to the fact that local
viewers enjoy “modern, advanced but culturally close and politically neutral televi-
sion shows” but at the same time consider Western or Japanese popular culture as
“ideologically threatening and emotionally unacceptable.” 28 Social proximity thus
becomes a factor, why East Asian viewers watch Korean shows, which consequently
leads to becoming even closer and raises the ratings of the programs.

Globalization leads to cultural hybridization; 29 that is creating new forms by
mixing domestic and foreign cultures because both cultures mutually influence
each other. This subsequently creates closer cooperation among members of cultural
groups, greater understanding and helps revive diasporas. Thanks to hybridization,
perception of foreign cultures also change because “hybrid characteristics” are cre-
ated, e.g. foreign food is adapted to local needs and expectations, and then we can
talk about “touristic goods” 30 rather than reviving foreign cultures. In this sense,
Korean culture is also being criticized for its clear similarity with American popular
culture which shall facilitate its acceptance in the West. It is also considered a part
of export industry, and therefore the uniqueness of its culture disappears because
it rather becomes an interesting and well-thought export article and a source of
profit. Yul Sohn also argues 31 that thanks to hybridization of Korean culture with
the American, it is more easily accepted, because it is easier to Asian taste rather
than Western culture.

26 Yang, Jonghoe: The Korean Wave (Hallyu) in East Asia, 108.
27 Ibid, 122.
28 Ibid, 131.
29 Shim, Doobo: Hybridity and the rise of Korean popular culture in Asia, 27.
30 Schirato, Tony: Understanding Globalization. The Global Subject and Culture, 158.
31 Sohn, Yul: Engaging Hallyu: Theoretical and Practical Challenges, 3.

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Dálný východ / Far East

This trend can also be described as “glocalizing” 32 in order to approach global
markets. It is represented by weakening of ties between a culture and its location
by removal of cultural characteristics. In praxis, it means adapting films or songs
to the target group: e.g. by setting movies in an international environment or using
foreign words in songs. This is dependent on the final target group. In the case of
South Korea, a good example is the more and more present English lyrics in Korean
songs or setting foreign actors in movies which became blockbusters and also by
setting their scenes abroad. As a good example serves the movie Snowpiercer 33 shot
in the Barrandov Studios in the Czech Republic or, in South Korea, the very popular
drama Lovers in Prague which made Prague famous in Korea. 34 Korean popular
songs are more and more inspired by alternative American music styles which we
can see in the song “Hangover” by Korean rapper Psy and American rapper Snoop
Dogg. Korean musicians are also often compared to their American counterparts
in order to raise their familiarity.

South Korea as a middle power
According to Jinwoo Choi, 35 a country is considered a middle power, which means
a country which is in the size of political, economic, and military power ranks among
great powers and small powers, if “it has enough sources of hard power which are
taken into account at least in regional context by neighboring countries”. It also
has to behave “according to the international codes of conduct which are required
by responsible members of the international community” and “be able to actively
cooperate with like-minded countries”.

Middle powers are defined as “neither strong, nor big” 36 and earlier, sizes of
countries were determined by obvious criteria such as size or the population, area
of the country, or its economy. But as Eytan Gilboa puts in “The Public Diplomacy
of Middle Powers”, middle sized countries which lie somewhere between small and
great powers could not effectively be recognized according to these viewpoints. 37 On
the contrary, according to Duy-Heyong Cha, middle powers bridge the differences
between super powers and weaker countries and their role will be even more impor-
tant. Their task might be the key in cases, in which big countries strive for their favor
in resolving disputes; they might play a crucial role in resolving territorial disputes,
or climate issues. 38 They thus become a bridge between great powers and small states
which stress the meaning of cooperation by looking for multilateral solutions. Yul
Sohn deals with another view when he recognizes a middle power according to the

32 Tomlinson, John: Globalization and Culture, 29.
33 Kim, Kyung Hyun: South Korean Cinema’s “Localizing Global” Strategy, 99–104.
34 Unless otherwise stated, “Korea” or “Korean” refer to the Republic of Korea.
35 Choi, Jinwoo: Korea’s Role as a Middle Power in the Global Public Policy.
36 Gilboa, Eytan: The Public Diplomacy of Middle Powers (online).
37 Ibid.
38 Gilley, Bruce: Middle powers rising. The Global Edition of the New York Times, 9.

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Ročník V / číslo 1 / 2015

topics to which the country is dedicated, 39 usually the environment, technologies,
and developing aid. Further areas of interest are world safety, ecological develop-
ment, foreign aid, and global health. 40 They commonly focus on soft power and try
to resolve problems multilaterally and base their approach on norms.

Middle power countries promote stability and legitimacy of the international en-
vironment, build networks and mechanisms open to them. In the long-term outlook,
their activities lead to peace and safety in the world. In order for a country to become
a middle power, it has to be a leader in its area of interest and they need considerable
advantages. The necessity to build coalitions is significant mainly among such big
countries because they can reach success only with partners and by cooperating with
others. Yul Sohn emphasizes networking even more and considers networks together
with soft power as the basis of Korean public diplomacy, 41 because networking gives,
thanks to the access to sources of information, the actors not only bigger strength
and competences but also the mediator can improve through information flows
and socializing. They influence preferences of other governments or international
players and are as well respected for their attractiveness, not by coercion or for
material incentives.

In the international measure, the Republic of Korea ranks a middle power, be-
cause it fulfills the above-mentioned criteria. As the 14th biggest economy 42 and
10th in military size, 43 the Republic of Korea has capabilities of being a hard power
but is also respected because it keeps global norms and is taken seriously by like-
-minded countries. In the praxis, the diplomatic activism can be seen in the sup-
port of creating the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) in the 1980s or
the strong support of the role of the Group of Twenty (G20) in resolving the global
financial crisis. In the G20 summit, Seoul also advanced the poverty solution in de-
veloping countries and found a decrease in differences in the levels of development
in their efforts to reach a “fair economic order.” 44 South Korea also specializes in
nuclear energy, building nuclear power plants (the country won in 2009 a contract
to build four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates) 45 and non-proliferating
of nuclear weapons and therefore supports the Nuclear Security Summit, which the
country itself organized in March 2012. Thanks to building coalitions, it also has
abilities to influence like-minded countries, which the country actively exploits in

39 Sohn, Yul: Searching for a New Identity: Public Diplomacy Challenges of South Korea as
a Middle Power, 78.
40 Gilboa, Eytan: The Role of Middle Powers in Public Diplomacy, 52–53.
41 Sohn, Yul: ‘Middle Powers’ Like South Korea Can’t Do Without Soft Power And Network
Power, 32.
42 The World Bank: Data. GDP (current US$) 2013 (online).
43 Choi, Jinwoo: Korea’s Role as a Middle Power in the Global Public Policy, 52–53.
44 Song, Sang-ho: Lee’s ‘Global Korea’ initiative gives boost to Korea’s diplomatic profile, 1 and
7.
45 World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in South Korea (online).

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economic agendas. Recently, it also stresses the importance of development, human
rights, and investment in resources and extraction.

South Korea is aware of the necessity to solve global problems in cooperation
with others which it proves through its engagement in the human rights agenda and
humanitarian aid and development assistances. Since 2010, the country is a member
of the OECD Development Assistance Committee (the club of sponsors) and the year
after hosted the Fourth High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, 46 which is a symbol
of a transition of the country from the receiver of development assistance to the
donor. 47 The country supports common interests, values, and rules of behavior, and
is a member of wider international community. It takes part in international forums,
hosts key diplomatic events and its citizen’s work in international organizations on all
levels up to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, and thus fulfills conditions
of a definition of a middle power.

In 2013, Incheon became the seat of the Green Climate Fund (GCF), a fund
within the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate
Change and the Korean government expects that this step will globalize Incheon
which shall become an international city on the level as Geneva or New York and
also the organization GCF global as the World Bank Group (whose president in
2012 became the South Korea-born Jim Jong Kim) of the International Monetary
Fund. The country itself is also 2013–2014 non-permanent member of the United
Nations Security Council. The 2018 Winter Olympics are scheduled to take place in
the South Korea’s Pyeongchang.

South Korea has attracted an increasing amount of attention, partly thanks to its
rapid economic rise, but also by organizing international events (such as the 1998
Olympic Games and the 2002 World Cup). The change of an international setting
created pressures in East Asia. With the “Global Korea” strategy, it also becomes the
venue of international meetings of top state leaders, namely at the already mentioned
G20 Summit or two years later at the Nuclear Security Summit. Public diplomacy
is also supported by hosting conferences or seminars with Korean topics directly in
Korea or abroad. Since 2006, Korea hosted six conferences of International Mone-
tary Fund, the last one in 2013 48 with the topic of stability and growth in Asia. An
important institution engaged in public diplomacy is the Korea Foundation, granting
support to cultural centers, libraries, or think tanks all over the world.

In this development, Korean political representatives play a crucial role. Former
president Chun Doo-hwan built in 1988 the Seoul Arts Center, the first and most
important art and cultural complex of the country. 49 Kim Dae-jung (1998–2003 in
office), called the President of Culture, decided to support cultural industry and
also legally set this project, inspired by American movies and British musicals. The

46 Robertson, Jeffrey: Time to start debate on Korea’s role as middle-power, 13.
47 Song, Sang-ho: Lee’s ‘Global Korea’ initiative gives boost to Korea’s diplomatic profile, 1 and 7.
48 International Monetary Fund: IMF Seminars, Conferences, Workshops and Economic Forums
(online).
49 Seoul Arts Center: About SAC (online).

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former president Lee Myung-bak’s merit is the increase of international influence
and a profile of the country in diplomacy and creating the policy of Global Korea.
During his office in 2008–2013, the global importance of the country then increased.
His strategies united the position of Korea as a middle power, searching for answers
on global challenges. Apart from organizing important events, the president did not
leave out environmental themes, where he promoted sustainable economic devel-
opment based on lower use of carbon. Except for long-term and short-term strategy
of ecologic growth, a plan was set to decrease the emission of greenhouse gas by
30% 50 until 2020. A project to build an ecologic city near Saemangeum is evidence of
compatibility of economic growth with the protection of the environment; it should
serve as “business and logistic center of East Asia” and be “another miracle of the
Korean economy” 51 based on ecologic development in the purpose to improve the
quality of water and national parks. The incumbent president Park Geun-hye strives
to continue in the success of her predecessor, even though she did not dedicate
attention to culture in her presidential campaign. The increasing economic value
and cultural exports and the role of culture in supporting the Korean image abroad,
however, got her attention and she is occupying herself with innovation, creativity,
and richness in the cultural sector. 52 In addition, public diplomacy became a pillar
of Korean foreign politics. 53

The increasing diplomatic influence of the country is caused not only by public
diplomacy, supported by the state, which influences the public opinion abroad, but
also by the popularity of Korean popular culture, which should serve as means of
understanding and increasing awareness of local culture and make the country more
attractive abroad. Middle powers such as South Korea are motivated to increase its
soft power by spreading its economic influence 54 as well as compensating for the
lack of hard power, and thus the goal of strategic building of soft power in East Asia
is generally reaching bigger influence and getting importance. 55 The third reason is
then the change in perception of national identities of countries. Yul Sohn connects
directly South Korean soft power with the security on Korean peninsula. 56 Long-
-term effort could, according to him, indirectly contribute to increasing safety for
South Korea.

Public diplomacy is an opportunity, thanks to which middle powers can exert
certain influences 57 in global politics owing to engaging in coalition building,
gaining international, support and reaching wider recognition. They also widely

50 Young, Soogil: Harnessing green growth and climate change, A7.
51 Na, Jeong-ju: Lee Pledges Eco-Friendly Development of Seawall, 2.
52 Do, Je-hae: Park to put policy priority on Culture: President-elect to increase cultural budget,
diversity ‘hallyu’. The Korea Times, Dec 21, 2012.
53 Ma, Young Sam: Korea’s Role in Global Public Diplomacy, 65–66.
54 Melissen, Jan: Soft Power in East Asia, 4.
55 Ibid, 5.
56 Sohn, Yul: Engaging Hallyu: Theoretical and Practical Challenges, 3.
57 Sukma, Rizal: Middle Powers and Public Diplomacy, 54–55.

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cooperate with more and more important non-state actors in order to reach their
goals, and use their power. In this changing international milieu, Korea can find
space to play an important role in the coordination with great powers and newly
emerging actors.

Korea also has normative advantages which help the country in international
success. The country was also acknowledged as valuable partner in peace-keeping
cooperation (e.g. in Lebanon or in the Republic of South Sudan) 58 and in interna-
tional development aid. They are motivated to contribute to world peace and safety
and improve their status in the international community and at the same time to
create a safer world.

Creation of hallyu
Korean cultural sources comprise of Korean modern culture including Korean
popular music (K-dop), drama (K-drama) and films and also food, fashion, classical
music, arts, literature, dance, and technology (K-tech). They are called hallyu (or
sometimes also allryu or hanryu; a term coming from Chinese) or Korean wave
which is related to the increased exports of Korean cultural products in Asia and
the world 59. All these areas became the main source of business. 60 The democratic
government allowed the consecutive “waves” of Korean popular culture, which
thanks to the production of fresh and diverse genres and their different aesthetics,
create persisting impressions on viewers all over the world. These cultural waves
are not always defined equally but generally three are identified. Distinction among
them rests not only in their beginning but also in the form of culture which is
leading them.

The first wave was the result of the government’s endeavors and events were
organized by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. 61 Its spread was facilitated
by television channels and mass media. 62 At the beginning, Korean dramas were the
propulsion power because they represented a cheap alternative to Japanese shows.
According to the general belief, hallyu started in 1999 in China with a successful
drama but outside of the country, it was still rather unknown. “Winter Sonata” is
considered the pioneer drama which reached success in China and Japan (where
products connected to the series earned 2,3 billion dollars) 63, and so contributed
to the propagation of the country. The romantic series made the main character

58 Permanent Mission of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations: Peacekeeping Operations
(online).
59 Kim, Andrew: Catching up to the Korean Wave? The Pursuit of Soft Power in East Asia, 63.
60 Shim, Jae-yun: Hallyu seeks to bridge different worlds. The Korea Times, 5.
61 The Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism was created following the reorgani-
sation in 1998, and replaces the former Ministry of Culture and Sport.
62 Ahn, Shin-Hyun: Girls’ Generation and the New Korean Wave, 85.
63 Joo, Jeongsook: Transnationalization of Korean Popular Culture and the Rise of “Pop Na-
tionalism” in Korea, 494.

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a women’s idol (“which was more popular in Japan than the then prime minister”) 64
and the island Nami, where the show was shot, became an after-sought touristic
location, which was within 10 years of the screening visited by more than a million
of tourists. 65 In 1999 the series “Star in my Heart” became a hit in Taiwan and China
and since then, it was shot in primetime in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, and
Vietnam. The critic Lee Joung-mi ascribes the success also to the situation after the
financial crisis, after which people found relief in romantic stories. In Hong Kong,
the most watched drama in 2003 was the historical drama “Jewel in the Palace.” 66
Thanks to advanced conditions for production, film stars, rich supply of genres,
spread of domestic film companies and the support by the film promoting and
developing agency Korean Film Council (KOFIC), the country succeeded to gain
dominance on the domestic market and international reputation. The series finally
spread all over Asia. Korea is the 7th biggest film market in the world which yearly
attracts 119 million viewers. Joo in this context defines the Korean wave as some-
thing, “what various people in eastern Asia watch, listen to, and play.” 67 Korea is
a country of blockbusters beating Hollywood on its domestic market, recognized
by critics abroad, and commercially. One certain drawback is the fact that the series
and films are much more successful on the Asian market, where they spread much
easier. Although movies reach foreign markets, they are still rather a part of specific
film festivals. The first wave of Korean culture thus rather remains a regional affair.

The global success happens only with the second wave (sometimes also called
as “New Korean wave”), led by Korean popular music. The main difference is 68 that
fans itself searched for it, who in addition drives it by their activities and enthusiasm.
They organize auditions and cultural events all over the world. According to Keith
Howard, in the musical industry, this wave arrived already in 1999 with a mem-
ber of the group CLON Jun Yup’s duet “I can’t wait” with a Taiwanese singer Yuki
Hsu, 69 even though generally it is connected with the H.O.T.’s performance later
the same year. Because Korean popular culture was earlier not too internationally
recognized, Koreans view the global success of hallyu as national pride. 70 Before
creating big entertaining agencies, singers became famous thanks to live perfor-
mances or through broadcasting and only then signed with a manager, agency, or
record company. 71 Lee Soo-man, founder, chairman and the biggest shareholder of
the biggest entertainment agency SM Entertainment, however, changed this trend.

64 Lee, Claire: Remembering ‘Winter Sonata,’ the start of hallyu, 1.
65 Ibid, 5.
66 Salmon, Andrew: New wave of pop culture redefines Korea, 14.
67 Joo, Jeongsook: Transnationalization of Korean Popular Culture and the Rise of ‘‘Pop Na-
tionalism’’ in Korea, 490.
68 Ahn, Shin-Hyun: Girls’ Generation and the New Korean Wave, 85.
69 Howard, Keith: The Foundations of Hallyu – K-Pop’s Coming of Age, 67.
70 Joo, Jeongsook: Transnationalization of Korean Popular Culture and the Rise of ‘‘Pop Na-
tionalism’’ in Korea, 489.
71 Kim, Hyung-eun: SM Entertainment and the birth of the Hallyu, 12.

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His goal was to find talents and grow with them; the company organized castings,
propagation, marketing, and sales. With the new system of managing talents from
their beginning and spreading on global markets, the Korean music industry was
changed. As a consequence of globalization, every artist at SM Entertainment has to
produce their work in English and Korean. Today, the talent scouts search all over
the world, mainly in the USA and China, in order to ensure continuous growth at
home and abroad.

Approximately since 2010, hallyu has been led by Korean pop that became
a recognized category of music genres and promising business even though it was
considered only a temporary thing at the beginning. K-pop became an identifiable
brand like Samsung and it is getting such attention which traditional Korean culture
never got. Popularity of music reached outside of Asia to Latin America, Africa,
Europe, and the Middle East. K-pop is particularly popular on the Internet. In 2011,
even before Psy’s hit, K-pop hits have been seen by 2.3 billion viewers from 235
countries in one year. 72 Popularity of Korean popular culture has an economic effect:
in 2012 was the first time it surpassed exports of cultural products of their imports.
According to the Korean bank, the country exported products worth 1.25 billion
dollars 73 and most of these cultural products are related to hallyu. Export sharply
rose since 2011 and its success is ascribed to boom of music groups.

Historically, probably because of Confucianism, the entertainment industry did
not enjoy high social recognition. 74 But artists gradually gained respect even though
they have low education and financial success. Fame becomes a new possibility for
success, which leads to shift in Confucian traditions. In recognition of their increased
status, the group Girls’ Generation and Super Junior became honorary ambassadors
of the quarter Gangnam. 75 President Lee Myung-bak considers the international
success of K-pop as “one of the biggest successes of his country” 76 and the govern-
ment administrates Korean wave Index for measuring the craze for cultural exports.
The creativity of Korean youth becomes an impetus of Korean economics – local
entertainment industry is significant and growing export article and Korean stars
in neighboring countries are sometimes getting more attention than local stars. 77

The concerns are currently about the sustainability of hallyu and its future.
Korean culture could, according to negative predictions, lose its strength within
several years. Therefore the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism tries
to find ways to prevent this. In this regard, we are talking about the third wave of
hallyu which focuses on globalization of traditional culture. High level of products
should be reached by unique and universal Korean cultural values: traditional culture
should be the base of cultural products which, thanks to propagation with the help of

72 Seo, Min-Soo: Lessons from K-pop’s Global Success, 60.
73 Kim, Rahn: Korea posts 1st surplus in culture account, 11.
74 Jones, Jeffrey: Time to support entertainment in Korea, A7.
75 Oh, Kyu-wook: Fest to show hallyu Gangnam style, 16.
76 The Korea Times: K-pop’s slick productions win fans across Asia, 22.
77 Jones, Jeffrey: Time to support entertainment in Korea, A7.

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Ročník V / číslo 1 / 2015

modern culture will be globally successful, yet unique. 78 Less popular genres shall get
more support from the government: writers who create on the basis of traditional
Korean legends or alternative music groups which want to breakthrough abroad.
Setting a supporting center is also planned 79 which should help companies in law
and financial issues and in case they are interested in exporting abroad also suggests
a marketing strategy and provides information. The role of the government and
companies is very evident in the support of Korean culture.

Korean brand
Pictures that a country projects on a political scene as well as by wider public
play “a very important role in assessing the position of a state on the international
scene.” 80 The concept or branding appears in Korea with the initiatives of Lee
Myung-bak, 81 which shall support economic and social success of the country abroad
and attract not only foreign tourists but also investments. A brand differentiates its
products from their rivals on the market by creating certain emotions and behavior
and means a certain quality for them. 82 The Korean brand has a significant name
in the competitiveness in the field of technology, science, or economics but the
country is still rather remembered with North Korea and the Korean War, which are
the most commonly mentioned negative connotations. 83 According to the survey,
people even confuse both Koreas. 84 According to the professor Yoo Jae-woong, 85
the global image of the country lacks behind its transnational companies such as
Samsung or Hyundai.

The country strives to improve its image abroad by two ways: in 2009, it in-
troduced an official government campaign for supporting branding and even the
modern Korean culture lead to the change. By improving the international image
of the country, they want to prevent companies from being disadvantaged “only
because they are from South Korea.” 86 The key projects of branding of the country
are increasing of development aid according to the Korean model of success, de-
velopment of programs for multilateral families in the country, promoting education
according to the global norms and supporting student exchanges, and thus pro-
viding education in the country to foreign students. The country also sets the goal to

78 Shin, Hae-in: Korea to promote 3rd Hallyu: Minister Choe (online).
79 Cho, Chong-un: Korea to turn hallyu into industry (online).
80 Peterková, Jana: Public Diplomacy: A Buzzword or Real Change?, 91.
81 Na, Jeong-ju: Korea urged to revamp overseas PR system, 5.
82 An, Ji Yoon.: An Exploration of Korea Brand and its strategy, 21.
83 Ibid, 32.
84 Pike, Andy: Brands and branding geographies, 294.
85 Na, Jeong-ju: Korea urged to revamp overseas PR system, 5.
86 Ibid, 5.

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provide 3,000 volunteers per year 87 under the program World Friends Korea, while
direct personal contact of the volunteers with the local inhabitants is important.
This “grassroots diplomacy” shall promote Korean soft power all over the world. 88
Organizing of the Vietnam-Korean Week, where Koreans connected cultural and
economic diplomacy, could serve as an example: they introduced popular culture
and food to local inhabitants as well as organized business forums and seminars for
strengthening business relations. With the help of creating a worldwide network of
Koreans living abroad, this connection shall serve to promote the country abroad.
Another goal is also to advertise Korean food, taekwondo, tourism and language.
The government also wants to support the connection of successful companies with
the country of origin, which allegedly distances from the country because Korean
products are considered less prestigious. While economic development helps to
improve the reputation of the country, thanks to culture and education, foreigners
can better understand the country and, therefore, the government shall strive – with
the help of politics and diplomacy – to inform about its country in compliance with
the needs of the foreigners. 89

The country also uses logos and slogans for its ministries which represent Korean
potential. So, in 2002 with the motto “Dynamic Korea” and five years later “Korea
Sparkling”, the government wanted to attract foreign investors and tourists. These
slogans were abandoned because they did not bring desired results. 90 In 2010, the
slogan “Korea, Be Inspired” was launched but according to the critics, it was too
arrogant. 91 With the new motto “Imagine your Korea”, the country wants to focus
more on foreign tourists – by 2020, the government plans to attract 20 million, 92
which means almost twice as much as the current number. The country should be
according to the slogan “exciting and modern“, inexpressible with one word. Apart
from the traditional richness, the enticement is of course modern music and series.
Nevertheless, with these often changing slogans in accordance with the changing
governments, it might give the impression of unpredictability especially to the in-
vestors.

Media became a strategic industry which shall again reinvigorate the sector of
economics and tourism, where they with the state and travel agencies are all involved.
Too much of American culture in 1980s created a wave of nationalism 93 in the coun-
try and craving for restoration of their own identity and together with globalization
led to the idea of selling of Korean cultural products on the global market. In the

87 Kim, Regina: Searchers and Planners: South Korea’s Two Approaches to Nation Branding,
150.
88 Na Jeong-ju: Korea Seeking Grassroots Diplomacy to Enhance Global Image, 2.
89 Na, Jeong-ju: Korea urged to revamp overseas PR system, 5.
90 Na, Jeong-ju: New Government Logo Planned, 1.
91 Lee, Chang-sup: Tourism agency changes slogan again (online).
92 Lee Woo-young: ‘Imagine your Korea’ new tourism slogan (online).
93 Huang, Shuling: Nation-branding and transnational consumption: Japan-mania and the
Korean wave in Taiwan, 5.

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Ročník V / číslo 1 / 2015

purpose of support of media industry on the global level, the Division of cultural
industry was created. Cultural industry gradually and successfully becomes na tional
pride with which the inhabitants identify and which creates “cool, popular, and
a modern country,” 94 upgrades its status and helps their citizens to get confidence.

Koreans have big ambitions in advertising activities – the government subsidizes
their works abroad or provides them for free with the aim of spreading a positive
image of the country all over the world. 95 Thanks to the support, it expects future
profits. Thanks to the popular culture, it creates bonds to international audience,
which percepts it as an ideal image, 96 helping them to better understand Korean
culture. With the help of marketing strategies, Korean brands shall become brands
on the world level. Korean conglomerates take advantage of product placement 97
in television programs and Korean stars represent brands. Thanks to this strategy,
Korean cosmetics in Taiwan became successful since 2005, where it was considered
lower quality 98 products in comparison with the Japanese cosmetics.

According to the president of the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA),
hallyu contributed to increasing the national brand of the country, 99 it is thanks to
the advertising for Korean national image and the increased interest in it, that the
understanding of Korea is growing. Furthermore, it has positive economic effects.
Positive images are projected by indirect experience with cultural content of the
country (via TV shows, films, advertising) as well as direct (travelling to the country,
meeting with local people and enjoying their products). In this way, the Chinese
also learn about the country, who like Korean series and entertainment shows and
therefore positively think about Korea. 100 Also thanks to hallyu, the Chinese prefer
and consume more Korean products – foods and sweets but also mainly cosmetic
products that are mostly bought by Chinese tourists during their visit to South Korea.
Hallyu projects positive images as a marketing strategy and uses stars in adver-
tising. Positive perceptions towards the nation then leads to positive images of the
product. 101 This marketing strategy relies on spoken words – on the fact that positive
attitudes toward a nation will be transmitted on its products. Hallyu stars are used
as models in marketing. Prevailing favorable feelings towards Korea improves the
images of its products and the society will positively feel this trend if the products
are clearly identified as Korean, based on Korean values. The biggest consumer show
with electronics in Europe, the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA) in Berlin, serves
as an example, where the company LG attracts attention to its televisions with the

94 Ibid, 7.
95 Ibid, 9.
96 An, Ji Yoon: An Exploration of Korea Brand and its strategy, 30.
97 Huang, Shuling: Nation-branding and transnational consumption: Japan-mania and the
Korean wave in Taiwan, 9.
98 Ibid, 9.
99 KOCCA: Greetings from the President (online).
100 C. Min Han: The Korean New Wave in China, 17.
101 Ibid, 17.

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help of Korean popular stars that enable the company to get more attention all over
the world. Companies exploit the growing popularity of the stars for expanding to
global markets and therefore, the culture is not only a motor of economic growth
but also improves the image of the country. Thanks to the positive promotion, export
profits rose.

The goal of the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism is to create job opportu-
nities with the help of culture, constant increasing of added value of cultural industry
should be assured, strengthening of tourism, and further cultivating of new markets.
With the aim of diffusing the value of culture, the cooperation and cultural influence
shall be further spread and dynamically adapted. 102 The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
includes cultural diplomacy as one of its pillars in order to increase the brand of
its country 103 and its prestige in the international milieu. Cultural exchanges in the
field of arts, sports, and media are based on a Cultural Agreement. 104 Through its
embassies, the ministry supports Korean culture abroad and helps facilitate mutual
understanding. Business people, journalists, government assistants, or artists are
invited to the events and the audience also gets the chance to express its opinion in
the survey of satisfaction. The Ministry also supports the screening of Korean dramas
in places, where they are hard to penetrate (mainly in Africa and Latin America).
The Ministry also supports spreading Korean films at festivals in Cannes, Venice,
or Berlin and attracts foreign creators to Busan International Film Festivals, and in
addition it organizes film festivals abroad. Since 2008, global cultural events 105 are
also a part of cultural diplomacy of the country, connected with raising awareness of
global issues – poverty, climate change, and ecological growth. One of the projects
was organized by the fans of the singer Seo Taiji themselves on the occasion of the
twentieth anniversary of his debut; they called a forest after him “Seotaji Forest” in
Brazilian rainforest Guapi Assu. British environmental organization World Land
Trust was engaged in the realization. 106

Conclusion
Before the “creation of hallyu”, there existed a Korean culture which was pene-
trated to the world. But the difference lies in the look at the country: while earlier,
it was connected with oppression, war atrocities, and post-war poverty, nowa-
days it is attractive for its rapid economic development and tries to be connected
through culture with modernity, fun, beauty, or high living standards. This picture is
projected with significant help of Korean stars, associated with perfect appearance
and style, and thanks to them, the government also tries to make their products visi-

102 Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism: Vision (online).
103 Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic Korea. Culture: Overview (online).
104 Ibid.
105 Ibid.
106 Cho, Chong-un: K-pop still feels impact of Seo Taiji & Boys.

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Ročník V / číslo 1 / 2015

ble abroad and thus contribute to their sales abroad. Exactly this role of government
and companies in the spread of hallyu is crucial.

Korean culture plays an important role mainly because it increases interest in
cultural products of the country. Companies are aware of the stars popularity and
they take advantage of it in marketing of its products. This leads subsequently to the
increase of consumption of their products. In addition, the number of tourists has
been steadily increasing and the increasing number of foreign students is an evidence
of successful branding in education, embodied in the Korean plan from 2009.

South Korea is in diplomacy defined as a middle power and on the grounds of
this position, it exerts diplomatic activities which successfully promote the country
on the international level. Thanks to organizing international conferences, sports
events or fairs, the country strives to become visible and asserts itself as a reliable
partner in the matters of development aid or ecology. Apart from the well-thought
governmental strategies, Korean modern culture also becomes a part of “Korean
brand” and based on the newest slogan “Imagine your Korea” one of the lure for
tourists, whose number should reach 20 million within next 6 years. The Repub-
lic of Korea, in their efforts to develop not only economically but also to become
a popular tourist destination and globalize more, promotes ambitious plans. In order
to reach them, not only entertainment companies but also the government and Ko-
rean conglomerates connect and finally not only stimulate but also control Korean
modern culture.

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Contact: Lucie Šarmanová, graduate student, Department of International Relations
and Diplomacy, University of Economics, nám. Winstona Churchilla 4, 130 67 Prague
3, Czech Republic, sarmanova.lucie@gmail.com

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Use your lecture notes as the basis for your South Korean Culture Analysis (4-5 pages) 

· You are encouraged to use multiple critical theories, critiques, and connections when analyzing different parts and aspects of the exportation of the South Korean Culture

Must have 5+ sources from the STU online library, use 3rd person active voice, MLA format, 12 pt, double spaced, clear discussion/arguments, smooth transitions, sources cited within the essay, a works cited page (which does not count towards your written pages), and student must analyze various (more than 3) parts in order to complete your analysis and conclusion for your discussions/arguments.

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