Foreigners Comment on Korea's National Image

      March 18, 2009 09:17

      Inter-Korean confrontation, insufficient contributions to the international community, and domestic political and social unrest are some of the reasons foreigners cite why Korea's national brand ranks only 33rd in the world.

      The Presidential Council on Nation Branding on Tuesday published a survey conducted by World Research in February of Korea's image among 1,000 foreigners living here, including staff of foreign firms, foreign students and members of bi-national families. Respondents were allowed to give multiple answers.

      Most, or 48.4 percent, of respondents cited inter-Korean confrontation as a reason why Korea's national brand is undervalued. This group was followed by 44.1 percent who cited Korea's insufficient contributions to the international community; 41.5 percent who cited political and social unrest; 38.8 percent who said Korea is not attractive as a destination for immigration or tourism; and 37.5 percent who talked about Koreans' lack of sufficient etiquette during overseas travel.

      Some 54.8 percent of foreigners from Western countries picked inter-Korean confrontation as the biggest factor leading to the national brand being undervalued.

      As "typically Korean," respondents cited kimchi and bulgogi (30.4 percent), hanbok or traditional Korean dress (27.9 percent), Hangeul (16.1 percent), Taekwondo (8 percent), and the flag or Taegeukgi (3.6 percent). As things Korea can be proud of they cited a long history (22.8 percent), food (17.9 percent), national characteristics (11 percent), science and technology (10.6 percent), and educational level and enthusiasm (8.8 percent).

      As positive images, they cited information and communications (34.9 percent), the economy (13.2 percent), science and technology (13 percent), culture and arts (8.8 percent), and education (8 percent). Among negative images, they mentioned politics (29.7 percent), press (9.8 percent), the economy (9.2 percent), foreign relations and security (8.5 percent), and the environment (8.2 percent).

      Asked about difficulties they face when visiting or staying in Korea, respondents cited immigration procedures (53.3 percent), food (31.4 percent), public transport (24.9 percent), accommodation (24.8 percent), tourist information (19.1 percent), and road signs (16.3 percent).

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