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As a citizen of the United States who has lived in Korea for five years, and was interested in it for many years prior, I see Korea’s international image as mixed, but quickly improving. This essay will discuss where that image is positive and strong, where it is weak or negative, and some of the steps that might be taken to expand, strengthen, and improve this image. First, Korea has a trinity of categories in which its image is positive and distinct from other nations. These categories are internal economic development, outstanding exports, and an increasingly strong standing in so-called, ‘soft-power.’ Economic development is an unarguable area of positive image. Korea is well-known for its internal economic achievements, the “miracle on the Han.”  In fact, one way this international knowledge of Korean success can be measured is to look at the waves of international students who come to study in Korea. Other nations clamor to send their students to Korean universities and MBA programs hoping to learn from Korea the secrets to national economic development. These incoming students are in Korea to learn from perhaps the most successful country in the 2nd wave of development into an industrial, then post-industrial nation. Korea’s amazing march to development is one of the three pillars of its positive overseas image. This economic success has had a corollary effect. Korea is also known internationally for the quality and price of its products. Overseas, Korean brands such as Samsung and LG have replaced Japanese brands as the guarantor of quality, reliability, and good value. Korean cars routinely win praise in automotive magazines. One cannot go very far in the United States or Canada without seeing someone driving a Korean car, or talking on one of Korea’s cutting-edge smart-phones. Export success is the second pillar of Korea’s positive overseas image.
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