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THISAM Talks: "Public diplomacy and globalizing popular culture: the case of K-pop"

Shin Dong Kim, Professor at The Media School, Hallym University, Chuncheon, Korea & Chief Director at the Knowledge Cooperative for Good Governance, Seoul, Korea talked about Public diplomacy and globalizing popular culture: the case of K-pop. 

Key points by Ioanna Georgia Eskiadi 

K-Pop has created a never existed phenomenon that became worldwide. In 2020, the popularity of K-Pop has increased with many ordinary people knowing it. The Korean studies department applicants have increased through the last few years. This is giving quite a surprise and happens for a lot of factors, must obviously hallyu, led by dramas and music for people in the pre-uni years. Increasing cohorts with a huge amount of exposure to Korean language from a younger age to subtitled material on YouTube for yeneung shows on one hand and language study on the other. More and more younger people can actually approach university study with some knowledge of Korean under their belt at a level. This phenomenon has continuous support from the Korean government. The ministry of culture is emphasizing in Korean pop music, fashion, mass entertainment, comic books and cartoons. There has been a rise of Korean superstars, increased interest in Korean tourism and improved Korean country image. Koreas showcases its diverse culture, people, it’s unique entertainment products, exotic locales and its own pan-Asian superstars to the rest of the world and thereby create a very strong brand in Korea. Hallyu began as a deliberate strategy orchestrated by the Korean government in response to a changing global economy. Public diplomacy is planned purposeful and persuasive communication activities executed directly by a government toward people in other countries. Korean public diplomacy has also been in the same path. Some examples are Korean Culture Centres in major cities, NIIED for international education scholarships, cultural events by embassies and consulates, KOICA and foreign aid efforts and Korea Foundation for cultural and educational exchanges and promotion. Public diplomacy and Pop Culture don’t dwell in the same house, but they are mutually complimentary and their audiences are largely overlapping. Public diplomacy seems to have been benefitting from the success of the K-pop in recent decades. The overemphasized contribution of the government’s efforts for the rise of the K-pop can be read as a stealing of credit from the private sector. Public diplomacy should pay attention to the recent research on popular culture and deepening the understanding on the nature of global pop culture and its business its industry. Informed Public Diplomacy can protect and promote positive cultural circulation. Public diplomacy should correct the wrongfully circulated conception on the role of the Korean government, and instead produce and propagate the factual information on the state of pop culture and industries to avoid resorting on a “parasitic relationship” to the global fandom of K-pop.

The 5th Thessaloniki International Summer Academy on Media is organized by School of Journalism and Mass Communications of Aristotle University Thessaloniki (AUTh), Jean Monet of European Union Public Diplomacy along with other partners  under the title: “New trends in Media and Journalism: Turning crisis into opportunity”.

 Special emphasis is given on the topics:
1. Disinformation, Science Journalism / News Literacy
2. Crisis Communication
3. New business models in Media Organisations