Saturday, December 5, 2015

How about Becoming a Public Diplomat?

Every morning, when you read newspapers, you are confronted with various global and domestic changes in politics such as the Syrian crisis, Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Aung San Suu Kyi winning the general election. While you go through such issues, you might feel being up-to-date and like a proud global citizen. What you do next is folding the newspaper and throwing it away, not wondering whether there is anything you can do for certain issues that have grabbed your attention.
You might think knowing how the world goes around is enough for you. You might think that it is not the job for a university student to actively participate in bringing changes to the world but it is up to politicians, diplomats and other elites. However, this is not true.
You, as an individual and as a non-diplomatic professional, could also be a representative of Korea in the diplomatic and social arena. If you are interested in SDGs, you could simply post articles on your Facebook or Instagram to introduce the goals and persuade others to take action to achieve SDGs. If you think that you want to introduce Korea to the world and improve the public opinion of Korea, you may go to well-known tourist areas such as Insa-dong or  Gyeongbok palace and explain Korean tradition and history. These activities are called public diplomacy.
Public diplomacy means that diplomacy is no longer left just in the hands of diplomats and politicians but also is the responsibility of the public. When it was first introduced, it was only used for diplomats urging that they shift their attention to the foreign publics to develop a more favorable opinion toward Korea by getting close to them and introducing Korean culture to them. However, these days, non-professionals such as students or even businessmen who are passionate also take their place in public diplomacy.
Let me explain some cases of public diplomacy. The Voluntary Agency Network of Korea is one nongovernmental organization that addresses public diplomacy by creating projects with people who are interested in the field regardless of age. There are projects such as holding campaigns targeting foreign tourists and introducing them to certain aspects of Korea and campaigns targeting Korean to introduce global issues.
Not only do the organizations contribute to public diplomacy but also the individuals do so as well. A few years ago, the university students majoring in culinary skills went on a trip to Europe with their bus, called the Kimchi Bus, introducing Korean food to Europeans they met. There is also a group of the university students called the Arirang School who visit countries around the world and perform Korean traditional music to the foreign public. Moreover, it actually became a trend to wear hanbok, the Korean traditional costume, go on a trip abroad and hold small campaigns or performances to introduce certain Korean tradition and culture.
There are so many ways for you to actively opt in the public diplomatic arena with your own major or distinct interests. For example, if you major in advertisement and marketing, you could find your own unique ways of advertising certain issues to people around you. If you major in art and design, try to design daily items creative that could help people in need, such as Q drum, the rollable water container. If you major in science and technology, think of technological ways of facilitating the fundamental infrastructure in developing countries. Additionally, you can post those contents on your SNS to share with your friends and introduce them to the world. Do not hesitate to take action and be a part of public diplomacy!

opinion wBy Jeong, Yoo-jeong
Dept. of International Studies

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