To the world, South Korea is technology, Samsung and Psy

July 25, 2014

By Jun Ji-hye

A footage of Psy's Gangnam Style music video which recorded 1.6 billion views on Youtube. (Courtesy of

A footage of Psy’s Gangnam Style music video which recorded 1.6 billion views on YouTube. (Courtesy of

When foreigners think about South Korea, they think about a high-tech nation rather than a cultural one, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday.

The ministry unveiled the results of a survey conducted from October to November targeting 6,000 foreigners from 17 countries.

The survey was to look into Seoul’s global image, such as foreigners’ awareness of the country and whether they liked it.

Asked what came to their mind first when they thought about South Korea, most foreigners said “technology.” Then came such answers as “Samsung,” “Psy” and “Gangnam Style.”

Countries surveyed included Vietnam, India, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Republic of South Africa and Egypt. Six countries belonging to the Gulf Cooperation Council ― Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman and Bahrain ― were also included.

The United States, China, Japan and Russia were excluded because assorted research about them had already been carried out, a ministry official said.

The ministry said the global image index of Seoul appeared to be at a normal level, with the nation rating 3.03 points out of five.

“The highest level, 3.48, came from India, followed by 3.41 from Vietnam,” said the official. “Egypt gave the lowest index ― 2.95.”

Notably, an average of 30.2 percent of respondents said they had trouble distinguishing between South Korea and North Korea. In Egypt, more than half (52.2 percent) said they could not tell the difference. In South Africa, 41.2 percent of respondents said the same.

“Diplomatic activities to boost Seoul’s global image in such countries are urgently necessary,” a report on the study says.