Our round-up of news, notes, tips and tweets exhibiting how public diplomacy affects the world each and every day.
Korean popular culture seems to be everywhere these days, but is it changing how people view South Korea in the long term?
…beyond humour and entertainment, there are no cultural, moral or political ideals underlying this so-called soft power; Korean pop culture is a product of Korea’s marketing machine. Contrast this with the American revolution and the movements it inspired in Latin America or the idea of universal human rights that flourished after the second world war. Appealing as they may be, Korean dramas do not always reflect the reality. Like Japan’s, Korea’s culture remains highly exclusive. This is evident in business dealings, where most Korean businesses much prefer to deal with Korean counterparts. At its worst, non-Koreans in the same meeting room are ignored. [South China Morning Post]
— Dave Kelm (@dakelm) April 27, 2014
This article tries to update the BBG’s mission in the age of the Internet.
Should they focus on breaking news and speed of delivery, or analysis and context? Should their coverage decisions be dictated by national strategic goals, or by what research says their audiences want? Should they aim for specific audience segments like the young, urbanites, or elites, or just try to attract the largest audiences they can get? Only Congress and the Board can provide this guidance, but others have offered a range of views. Some critics like Lenczowski say the broadcasters should be more closely tied to national policy by making them accountable to a government agency such as the National Security Council. On the other side are critics who say that VOA, at least, shouldn’t have anything to do with public diplomacy, that it should simply be an independent news organization like CNN. [PD Council]
— Twiplomacy (@Twiplomacy) April 25, 2014
Only tangentially related to public diplomacy, but worth mention for the impact that it would have on practitioners: Putin has developed a sudden interest in developing his own “Russian Internet.”
Russia is one of a number of countries pushing the idea of “Internet sovereignty”: the notion that governments—rather than multinational corporations based in the United States or U.S.-founded agencies like the ICANN, which is responsible for the Internet’s global domain name system—should have control over their own internal cyberspaces. Brazil has been at the forefront of the movement; it considered, but eventually dropped, a data storage law similar to the one Russia just passed. And the movement has understandably picked up steam since Edward Snowden’s revelations about NSA surveillance made it more difficult for the U.S. government to claim it has no interest in interfering with the free movement of information around the globe. Internet sovereignty might be a little easier to take seriously as a concept if many of the governments that are most enthusiastic about it weren’t so blatantly interested in policing their citizens’ Internet use. Iran, for instance, has been for years been pushing a project aimed at keeping unwelcome outside influences from reaching its citizens. [Slate]
photo credit: The Verge