Image of Korea from the International Point of View
As a country that was invaded by Japan in World War II, we get a source of knowing about Japan on our history textbooks used in the secondary education. Not to mention the fact that the cultural influences dominantly among the people by the consumption of Japanese TV programs during the 1980’s. This phenomenon continues until the Hallyu, Korean Wave hit the shores of the North and South East Asian Nations, in late 1990’s. The rise of interest in Korean television drama, songs, movies, escalated rapidly and soon become a part of the mainstream, particularly in Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Japan, Malaysia and Thailand. The distribution of Korean entertainment not only heavily impacting the contemporary cultures, the entertainment industries but also the lifestyles and behavioral aspects of various people. Korean pop and Korean dramas, in particular, have shoved open the door to the world to knowing about Korea.
Ways to improve the Image of Korea Abroad
A senior manager from the Korean Broadcasting System, Sung Tae Ho, mentioned that Asians are more likely to relate to Korean cultures without cultural barrier because of the similarities in Asian cultures. "So based upon that cultural background, we exchange our emotions, what we think and what we feel. There is a low cultural barrier to crossover with our content. It is kind of a syndrome. Asian people love to enjoy Korean stuff,” he said during an interview with CNN. The great acceptance of Korean drama production across Asia Nations proves that Korean drama being a huge influential worldwide, followed by the big hit of Korean pop. Undoubtedly, Korean entertainment plays an important role in promoting the culture of Korea. In fact, Hallyu is now major motivation for teenagers and young adults to start learning the Korean language and studying Korea. As much as the impact of the media could bring, more productions based on true story or history of Korea may lead the audience to have a better knowledge of Korea. Arguably, despite the focus on romance in melodrama, or violence and horror in most Korea movies, some ethics in Korean’s culture should be getting more attention. As an illustration, Jewel in the Palace, also known as Dae Jang Geum, is one of the wildly succeed dramas. Being a well-made historical drama based on the true story of Jang-geum, the first female royal physician of the Joseon Dynasty, not only the great storytelling of the life of Jang-geum that attracted the audience, but also her high ethics to use her knowledge to heal and cure. It was also an eye-opener to the culinary culture of Korea, HanSik, Korean Traditional Cuisine, which was then rekindled public interest in traditional Korean cuisine, both locally and abroad. As well as, HanYak, the Korean Traditional Medicine.
As a matter of fact, since the early 1980’s, under the “Look East Policy” inaugurated by Malaysia government, many students, as well as government officials have been sending to Korea to study or acquire Korean technology and work ethics. Notwithstanding, the opportunities may be ripe, but it is not widely exposed to high school graduates or college graduates that wish to live or study in Korea. Western countries, such as Europe, United States, Canada or Australia, have always been the priority and limited choices to conduct advanced studies. By all means, offering scholarship or courses to provide international students with opportunities, expressly short-term courses to live and learn the language in Korea, or undergraduate and postgraduate programs at Korea’s higher educational institutions. To demonstrate, Translation and Language Academy, Fashion and Design Institution, Beauty and Cosmetics Institution, Culinary Institution, Music and Dance Academy, Entertainment and Film Production, and followed by job opportunities in their respective fields. Korea’s fashion and beauty products are renowned for being at the forefront of innovation, markedly. Not to mention the innumerable dishes in Korean cuisine that involve traditions and practices of the culinary arts of Korea. Studying abroad not only mainly for educational purposes, but also for students to take in new culture, learn the new language, and gain life experience. As most of the Overseas Education Consultants suggested, "Cultural differences are more than just differences in language, food, appearances, and personal habits. A person's culture reflects very deep perceptions, beliefs, and values that influence his or her way of life and the way that she or he views the world. Students who experience cultural differences personally can come to truly understand where other cultures are coming from."
Henceforth, in statistics, more than 13.5 million foreign tourists visited Seoul in 2016, which marks the largest number ever. This tremendous rise in Korea tourism made a great impact for the world to explore the culture within the country. On one hand, a short trip may not be enough for foreigners to fully experience the traditional culture and historical heritage in Korea. To enumerate, Korea may extend the offer of Working Holiday Visas to young adults in South East Asia countries, rather than only for the European countries and a couple of North East Asia countries. Coupled with that, Korea is well-known with its natural and manmade beauty, this program allowing young adults to have an in-depth look in different places of Korea. To illustrate, Seoul as the Special Metropolitan City with its dynamic and vibrant city vibe, Jeju island, in contrary, offers relaxing atmosphere and breathtaking subtropical landscapes, and many other districts in Korea with their own attraction and uniqueness. Indeed, there is a huge list of countries that offer Working Holiday Visas to more than twenty countries, to emphasize, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and France. “This type of visa also gives you a chance to experience day to day life beyond the tourist zones, make friends with locals and gain a deeper insight into the culture. It’s a fantastic way to travel and going on a working holiday will be an experience you will never forget,” claimed a freelance writer who has went on a Working Holiday Visa in New Zealand. This is to say that, a different set of tools that provide longer trip may results in finding a different philosophy, and different behaviors in Korea, that a short trip could not bring. Moreover, there is no better way to understand and knowing a different culture than to immersed and surrounded by it on a daily basis, as well as the language, by hearing and seeing it in proper cultural context in the country itself.
Point often overlooked, “While the world’s eyes are gradually turning away from poetry, Korea’s poems are leaving their marks in the pantheon of international literature, acquainting readers with their ethereal elegance,” writes Joel Lee at The Korea Herald. The distribution of English-translated of Korea’s poem or literature allows reader to discover the beauty of Korean poetry and literature. Being one of the loyal viewers of Korea TV programs, which eventually leads me to study Korean language, I was initially taking up the language as an interest. Not long after, I am mesmerized by the beauty of the language and the distinctive qualities of Korea’s poetry and literature. Forthwith, begin to look into Korea’s poem and literature. Deborah Smith's English translation of The Vegetarian, by Han Kang, the winner of 2016 Man Booker International Prize is an absolutely example of a literary masterpiece that worth the spreads to English-speaking countries. By distributing Korean literatures or poems translated into English or other languages is a key to sharing and creating the interest in exploring, be it the Korean language or Korean literature. By the same token, Korean children books with translation or both is a great starter for beginners who might find it challenging to read in Korean. As the rising popularity of eBooks and Mobile Apps, publishing digitally may be a good platform to begins with.
Undeniably, Korea is getting increased interest around the globe thanks to the exports of Korean culture or specifically, Hallyu, the Korean Wave. It is indeed a great way to promote Korea's rich heritage and culture on the world stage. In an interview with CNN regarding Korean Wave influences in Asia, Vorasuang Duangchinda, a professor at Sripatum University in Bangkok concluded that many of his students start watching Korean drama on television and then into Korean pop songs from the boy bands or also known as idol groups. "After that, they become fans of everything Korean -- Korean food, Korean culture. Many of my students can even speak Korean because of [the entertainment],” said Duangchinda. Consequently, with more exposures in various aspects, Korean language, literature, education, cuisine, culture, significantly, in corporation with Korea by providing more opportunities may help the world in better understanding of Korea
Neik Siang Jen
(Country of Activity : Malaysia)