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Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

Korea, Sparkling

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Why is it that Western Korea-watchers are, in general, so cynical?

Too often we criticise Korea for not listening to sound advice from us knoweldgeable, sophisticated Westerners. So Korea goes and hires the leading “National Branding” expert, Simon Anholt (a Brit, according to one blogger), to assist with a tourism strapline. Highly commendable. And the new brand was launched last week. But still the response from Westerners seems at best muted – with the notable exception of a writer in the Korea Herald.

Have a browse through the comments in the blogosphere linked below, or better still, participate in the KTO’s sparkling competitions and win a return trip to Korea.


Korea, Sparkling launch event in Seoul, 10 April 2007

4 thoughts on “Korea, Sparkling

  1. Why is it that Western Korea-watchers are, in general, so cynical?

    There are any number of reasons for this, ranging from the silly to the legitimate– not to mention that a significant number of Korea-watchers (Western or not) are far from cynical. Was this a rhetorical question?

    “Too often we criticise Korea for not listening to sound advice from us knoweldgeable, sophisticated Westerners.”

    It would have been nice if Anholt had given sound advice. I mean, come on– how does “Korea, Sparkling” sound to you? Be honest.


  2. Hi Kevin, thanks for visiting.

    Yes, designed as a rhetorical question, though it does seem to me that if you were to take a general straw poll (ie not just on this topic, but on all topics covered by K-bloggers) of positive coverage in the K-blogosphere versus critical coverage, the balance would probably be in favour of critical coverage. Is that something to do with the nature of blogging – that you’re more likely to feel stimulated to make a post if you disagree with whatever it is you’re commenting on? It’s also likely to be something to do with what sort of topics a blog covers: like you say, there are areas where criticism is absolutely valid.

    Mine is not designed to be a “good news” blog (I have been known to let my frustrations get the better of me), but I tend not to add my voice to a general critical consensus particularly if I haven’t got anything original to add. I thought the “Korea, Sparkling” launch was an interesting topic where despite the input of a foreign expert the result is not obviously the right one.

    My honest opinion? Yes, I prefer “Dynamic Korea”. Maybe that’s because I’m a little bit conservative & don’t like change for the sake of it; and maybe it’s because I think “Dynamic Korea” is inherently a better slogan than “Korea, Sparkling”. A bit of both. Maybe we’ll all get used to the new one over time…

    OK, a confession: it wasn’t one of my best opening lines, I agree. I wanted to provide links to some of the rather amusing commentary out there without jumping too much on the bandwagon.

    By the way, keep up the good work. I always enjoy visiting.


  3. Philip,

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I think that many (if not most) bloggers use their blogs to vent and perhaps to generate noises of agreement from their cyber-locality, i.e., the limited readership composed of people who frequent their blogs.

    And I agree that it’s generally easier to be critical than to offer praise, and that most expat blogs in Korea strike a critical tone. That’s a human tendency, and it’s not unique to blogs. Your own opening remark had a somewhat critical thrust (though I took it to be in a lighthearted vein), which is consistent with the larger theme that criticality comes more easily than praise.

    If we keep in mind that most bloggers are blowing off steam and that their daily interactions with Koreans aren’t as unpleasant as their blog posts might suggest (a point I’ve noted several times on my own blog), I think that puts the matter in somewhat better perspective.

    Were I a fluent reader of Korean, I’m sure the Netizen communiy would appear to be a vast zone of anti-Americanism with occasional contrary sentiment. But the Netizens who vent their spleen probably deal with Westerners, too, and I doubt those dealings are as bitter as (what I assume might be) the online tone would suggest.

    Your site has been around since 1992? Damn. That’s venerable. That’s from back in the era of vacuum-tube technology. Fifteen years of rockin’, eh? Well… rock on!


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