The Korea Foundation’s Attempt at Holistic Diplomacy

The Korea Foundation is a Seoul-based organization started in 1991 with the purpose of promoting academic and cultural exchange programs. The mission of The Korea Foundation is to promote better understanding of Korea within the international community and to increase friendship and goodwill between Korea and the rest of the world. It aspires to “enhance Korea’s global stature” through the promotion of Korean studies worldwide, and more recently has focused on sharing Korea’s “success story” with the rest of the world. The organization has information about cultural exchange programs, monthly academic and arts based publications as well as new media websites like Twitter and Facebook. The Korea Foundation is widespread, and uses new media, the arts, education and exchange as a platform for diplomacy.

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The Korea Foundation was started before the nation’s big media wave, Hallyu, which transformed the nations economy as well as Korea’s image in Asia and around the world. Hallyu helped brand the nation as a modern state, and improved Japan and China’s perceptions of Korea, as well as increased tourism among Korean Pop and Korean Drama fans. While the Korea Foundation has updated through new media and mentions the importance of Hallyu, there has been little emphasis on incorporating the media phenomenon into the organization’s diplomacy strategies. According to a recent survey, 58% of all Korean language learners have been inspired by Kpop. By implementing more Hallyu-related programs, the Korea Foundation could align itself with one of the main contributions to Korea’s “success story”.