The age of the state is not over. Though some have written about the power of web 2.0 to topple regimes and destroy state sovereignty, the picture is a little more complicated. The Republic of Korea in the last two decades has taken on a major cultural export campaign. Led by television dramas and pop music, the “Korean Wave,” as it’s called, has strengthened the ROK’s position as a regional power. More recently, the Republic of Korea started a comprehensive online public diplomacy campaign targeted specifically outside Korea’s ordinary sphere of influence with the goal of developing soft power abroad. Through an examination of tourism statistics, public opinion polls, and Google search trends, this paper ask the question: what if any soft power was generated by these online efforts? The results, though not immediately obvious, provide an early model for a state successfully taking on the new challenges posed by information and communication technologies to generate soft power online. Download this article as a PDF. This paper was prepared as part of a course taught by Shanthi Kalathil at Georgetown University. Continue reading →
Steve Jobs was a great man who invented some amazing devices that have changed the way we interact with technology. Today we’ve changed our look, (inspired by boingboing.net) to a retro mac theme in his memory. I never knew Jobs, and never thought I’d get the chance, but he was an inspiring public speaker, an innovator, and a businessman not afraid to make insanely great products. His genius, his commitment to greatness, near perfection and thinking different, left a mark on global technology and industrial design that will far outlast his mortality.
Seeing as this is a blog written by two travelers who can’t seem to write about their destinations fast enough, we thought it would be a good idea to map our travels. Now, you can see all our destinations at once—everywhere we’ve been in the entire world (though we’ve been so many places in the motherland that we only included a few), and click on them to learn more information. If there are blog posts about that place, you will see them listed below the place description, and if we happened to snap a photo while we were there, you’ll see one of those two. There are still some bugs to be worked out, and any suggestions—style, functionality, or otherwise—are more than welcome either in the comments here or by email. And now, without further ado, we present the map:
You don’t have to be in South Korea long to notice two things: there is a large population of foreign English teachers and it does not have the best reputation. Truth be told, it is no struggle to find examples of ex-pats who show more interest in late-night drinking than day-time teaching. When you look a little deeper, though, there are plenty more examples of appreciatively respectful foreigners engaging with the people and culture in all sorts of meaningful ways. This short film made by Bodeene Amyot, a Canadian teacher and filmmaker, is a testament to the positive influence foreigners can have in South Korea. Seoul, Hope, and Mustard Seeds is a short glimpse into the many philanthropic organizations that foreigners give their free time to. Continue reading →
The sound of the Kayagum, a traditional stringed Korean instrument apparently invented 1,400 years ago, played at Gyeongbokgung Palace. They were part of a large group reenacting a ceremony for court elders.
Having recently returned to the land of parking lots and fast food, bread and cheese, and friends and family, I find myself in the United States with an an abundance of both sentimentality for all things Korean and newfound time. This blend lends itself perfectly to reminiscence about the last few month’s with the time to write about it. Continue reading →
The green tea leaves of the Camelliea sinensis plant peak through bamboo fences, the bush that gives the world oolong tea, black tea, and of course, green tea.
Traveling from place to place, I often marvel at the luckiness of creatures who call some of the best places the world has to offer their humble homes. A mere human couldn’t scrounge up enough of anything to land themselves the right to set up shop in Spain’s Alhambra. Yet a number of pigeons air their morning coos over the Sierra Nevada Mountains everyday, nestled among the bright mosaics of that ancient palace. And just imagine the view those plump marmots enjoy each morning, hunkered down like carpet across the alpine terrain of the Rocky Mountain’s higher elevations. Continue reading →