National Brand and the Value of Coexistence
Oh, Se-hoon, Former Mayor of Seoul City
In what ways is South Korea advanced or not?
South Korea ranks 14thinGDP,6thin foreign capital reserve, 9thin military power, and in such areas as scholastic proficiency, Olympic ranking, Internet service, and international patent approval, South Korea is definitely well advanced. However, South Korea is not very advanced when we see the people’s degree of happiness, their quality of life, the democratic system, suicide rate, corruption rate, gender inequality, depopulation, and the gap between the rich and the poor. All these areas are concerned with community and we Koreans, who have grown up in an atmosphere which emphasized how to step on others and in an education system which hasn’t paid proper attention to the meaning of life, have brought about these bright and dark sides of our society.
What opinions does international society have about South Korea?
When a survey asked what word comes up when South Korea is mentioned, many people picked up ‘economic development’ and ‘technological competence’, but few people chose ‘design’ or ‘contribution to the international community’. Those who linked South Korea to design or international competence are much more willing to buy expensive products from Korea than those who linked it to economic development or technology. When we think that the economy of South Korea is highly dependent on export, the outcomes of the survey are very significant.
In recent years, the designers from South Korea have ranked 11thin international design competitions, which shows that we are quite good at designing. However, we have not established national design branding yet. The building of DDP (Dongdaemoon Design Plaza) is now bearing fruits when we see that Christian Dior and Chanel have held their Asian new product launchings at the convention center. Also the design city project which Seoul had conducted led to recognition by UNICEF, which appointed Seoul as a city of creative design. These kinds of efforts and their fruits are surely a very important concept that can earn South Korea a sustainable development engine.
A county respected by international community
South Korea is the only country that had formerly received aid and has developed to aid other countries. International aid can be beneficial but also selfish. Many countries are pursuing their own interests under the name of helping developing countries. Now the international community has reached an agreement that giving what they urgently need is what should be done and, most of all, sharing knowledge so that they can help themselves is the sure thing that should be done. South Korea has sent about five thousand volunteers yearly and that is the third largest number of volunteers from any one country in the world. If we spend about 35% of the more than two trillion won budget on human resources, we can perform the valuable asistance contributing to the development of the aided countries. The respect that can be earned from such thoughtful knowledge sharing will become the long-term development engine for South Korea.
Translation by Kang, Soo Jung
President of Salt&Light