Why Can’t Korea Successfully Promote Itself?

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The Korea Herald had a surprisingly interesting and insightful article today called “Korea failing to promote its art.” The article interviewed Robert Turley who founded the Korean Art and Antiques gallery in New York.  While Koreans probably lapped up his praise of the originality and stunning nature of Korean art, he had a very targeted criticism of how Korea has failed to successfully promote itself on the art scene (and every other scene it seems lately, aside from ice skating).

The recent Korean Art Show in New York in the first week of March was an example, he said. It was organized by the Galleries Association of Korea and Korea International Art Fair and supported by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports.

The Korea Herald had a surprisingly interesting and insightful article today called “Korea failing to promote its art.” The article interviewed Robert Turley who founded the Korean Art and Antiques gallery in New York.  While Koreans probably lapped up his praise of the originality and stunning nature of Korean art, he had a very targeted criticism of how Korea has failed to successfully promote itself on the art scene (and every other scene it seems lately, aside from ice skating).

The recent Korean Art Show in New York in the first week of March was an example, he said. It was organized by the Galleries Association of Korea and Korea International Art Fair and supported by Korea’s Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Sports.
“It was a great opportunity to see much Korean art under one roof, but nobody knew about it. (…) “The whole thing was like a big secret with hardly any promotion. I only found out about it a few days before the show. They had a one-page website, not much press exposure and a video on YouTube that had only 48 views,” he said.

It’s a perfect example of how Korea doesn’t seem to grasp Western marketing and advertising practices.  Recall how many millions have been spent by the government coming up with national branding slogans like Korea Sparkling, HiSeoul, and Dynamic Korea, Here was someone who owns a prominent gallery in New York not to mention his position as president of the Korean Art Society who didn’t get so much as a mailing about this gigantic show.

This is my favorite quote from the interview:

“Korean Cultural Service, whose mission is to promote Korean culture to non-Koreans, answers the phone in Korean. It sounds like a small funny thing, but it is a big sign of their attitude,” he said.

Welcome to Korea buddy. It is a big sign of their attitude, one of cultural supremacy and an seeming inability to educate themselves on how to even properly promote themselves or on how to adapt to other cultural norms to make their own more accessible.

Spaz update: I forgot to restock my purse stash of tea and must go through my day practically caffeine free (I did have a giant mug at breakfast). I foresee much misery. 



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