Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The “Sunny Side” of Public Diplomacy

Lilia Bozhinova on March 1, 2016 in Worldwide Korea Bloggers;

Image from article, with caption: On 2015 Dec. 8, Dr. Ludmila Dimitrova and Ambassador Shin Maeng-ho attend the Public Diplomacy Forum at Sofia, Bulgaria.

The Public Diplomacy Forum was held at Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, on 2015 Dec. 9. It was hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, with the cooperation of the Union of Bulgarian Architects and the Korean Embassy in Bulgaria.

The main subject of the event was to discuss the positive and constructive relations between Bulgaria and Korea as well as share the knowledge and experience in the area of public diplomacy of the two countries.

The forum began with welcoming speeches from Ambassador Shin Maeng-ho and Dr. Ludmila Dimitrova, director of the State Institute for Culture.

The welcoming messages were followed by a lecture presented by Mr. Kim Taehwan, a professor at the Korean National Diplomatic Academy. He came all the way to Bulgaria to give a lecture at this forum. Therefore, we were truly grateful for his work as he introduced us the many possibilities that lie ahead for the two countries.

The title of the presentation was “Recent Development regarding Public Diplomacy: Bulgarian and Korean cases.” The word “middle power countries,” which includes Bulgaria and Korea, was one of the key phrases throughout the whole lecture. As he introduced some new ideas and our position in the international society, he also emphasized the importance of the link between the two like-minded countries.

Prof. Kim Taehwan of the Korean National Diplomatic Academy gives a presentation at the Public Diplomacy Forum.

After the lecture, I had the pleasure to conduct an interview with the professor. He was kind enough to explain in depth on how the relations and possibilities can be improved between the two countries in the future.

Question #1: During your presentation, one of the main points was about the middle power countries. How can we, Bulgaria and Korea, strengthen the bonds between each other?

Prof. Kim: In order to raise a collective voice about the global issues in the international society, like-minded countries such as us need to collaborate with each other. Then, we would be able to conduct collective goods to compete with the great power nations.

During the interview, Prof. Kim says, “To raise a voice in the international society, like-minded countries such as Bulgaria and Korea should collaborate with each other.”

Question #2: What type of collaboration do you think that the two countries should establish?

Prof. Kim: Although the two countries established diplomatic relations since 1990, I’m not satisfied with the relationship. I believe that there is still a long way ahead of us that we should go together. Bulgaria and Korea both share a heavy history. Especially, Bulgaria’s experience of 25 years of navigating through post-communism is invaluable information to Korea.

Next, consul Hahn Su-jin gave a presentation on the cultural promotion of Korea in Bulgaria over the last year. The main focus was on the celebration of the 25th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and South Korea. This year was especially rich in Korean-related events. Therefore, during the lecture, we saw the recent effort that brought our countries closer. The last two lectures were given by Dr. Andronika Martonova from the Bulgarian Academy of Science and Mrs. Lubov Kostova. Both of them focused mainly on the Bulgarian and Western view on the public diplomacy matter. The lectures provided the participants with another point of view.

This was the first attempt for a forum on this topic in Bulgaria and I personally found it as a meaningful experience not just from a journalistic stand point, but as a citizen as well. I hope we have many more opportunities to share knowledge and experience about public diplomacy between Korea and Bulgaria.

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