“Divided country” is the first thing that comes to mind at the mention of Korea, said 34 percent of foreign nationals surveyed by the Corea Image Communication Institute. “Samsung” came in second (23 percent), followed by “kimchi” (20 percent).
CICI announced the results of the survey at the annual CICI Korea Image Awards gala event held on Tuesday at Grand Intercontinental Hotel’s Grand Ballroom in Samseong-dong, Seoul. The survey was conducted for about a month starting December last year via e-mail to 339 foreigners who have visited Korea.
Interestingly, in the same survey conducted in 2005, 61 percent of U.S. citizens had answered “Korean War” and 70 percent and 92 percent of the questioned Chinese and Japanese, respectively, had said “kimchi.”
“The image of Korea as a divided country seems to have been strengthened after Kim Jong-il’s death,” said an official at CICI.
At the question what best symbolizes Korea, 24.1 percent of the respondents answered Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, and 24 percent “taegeuk,” Korea’s traditional ying and yang pattern of red and blue.
From left: ICONIX CEO Choi Jong-il, Corea Image Communication Institute president Choi Jung-wha, actress Jasmine Lee and Cho Yang-ho, chairman of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics bid committee and also Hanjin Group chairman, pose for photographers after the Korea Image Awards ceremony at the Grand InterContinental Hotel in Samseong-dong, Seoul, Tuesday evening. (Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
During the awards ceremony Cho Yang-ho, chairman of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics bid committee, was awarded the Korea Image Stepping Stone Award for successfully bringing the Winter Games to the country.
Korea’s homegrown animated character Pororo from “Pororo the Little Penguin” received the Korea Image Budding Youth Award for promoting Korean creativity and culture overseas, while actress and activist Jasmine Lee, who appeared as a migrant woman in last year’s hit film “Punch,” was given the Korea Image Millstone Award for her contribution to Korea’s multiculturalism.
Some 800 guests, including Culture Minister Choe Kwang-sik, former Prime Minister Han Seung-soo, and leaders from the diplomatic and business community attended the annual event.
CICI also sent a separate survey to 365 Korean opinion leaders via e-mail.
When asked what country first comes to mind when hearing the word “foreign country,” U.S. came first with an overwhelming majority of 79 percent, up slightly from 2005 when 64 percent answered likewise. About 35 percent of the respondents said they chose the U.S. because “It’s referred to often in the press” and 18 percent because “It’s an advanced country.”
At the question what first comes to mind at the mention of the U.S., “Statute of Liberty” ranked first place in both 2005 and 2012, taking up 27 percent and 19 percent of the answers, respectively. The “Eiffel Tower” also maintained first place for France in both years, marking 54 percent and 53 percent each time. About 40 percent thought of “mother nature” for Australia and nearly 70 percent “oil” for the Middle East, in both years as well.
For China, though, “The Great Wall” came first in 2005 with 32 percent in 2005 but in 2012 most (38 percent) mentioned “population.” The first image of Germany was “beer” in 2005, backed by 31 percent of the respondents, but was changed to “machine-like accuracy” in 2012.
Meanwhile, nearly 70 percent of the respondents (69.3 percent) picked France as the country of culture and art, and 73 percent chose U.S. as the country with most economic power.
By Park Min-young (firstname.lastname@example.org