In 2010, Korea pinpointed public diplomacy as the three pillars of Korean diplomacy and has made efforts to strengthen the institutionalization of public diplomacy by securing various resources and overhauling its implementation system. With the enforcement of the Public Diplomacy Act in August 2016, the division and fragmentation of public diplomacy projects was resolved, and at the same time, a control tower called the Public Diplomacy Committee was established in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to enhance the unification of the public diplomacy implementation system. Korea has emerged as a middle power and an advanced country in the international community today, and the importance of public diplomacy is becoming more salient as a means of securing influence in the international community through a series of activities such as improving the national image and national brand based on Korea’s cultural assets and attractiveness.
Korea established official diplomatic relations with Brazil for the first time in Latin America in 1959 and established diplomatic ties with major regional countries such as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile in 1962. 2022 marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations with 15 Latin American countries, raising the need to make this year a new leap forward to establish sustainable reciprocal relations between Korea and Latin America. Korea and Latin America are on opposite sides of the Earth, and cooperation and exchanges are relatively sluggish compared to other regions due to various barriers caused by these geographical distances, and Korea needs to strengthen public diplomacy toward Latin America to consolidate multilateralism and diversify public diplomacy.
This study aims to derive policy implications applicable to Korea’s public diplomacy in the future as well as research related to public diplomacy. Due to Korea’s inherent geopolitical and historical specificity, the main diplomatic issue from the past to the present remains in the security area. Therefore, Korea’s diplomacy has traditionally focused on bilateral relations with the U.S., China, Japan, and Russia, which are called the four major stakeholders in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue and peace on the Korean Peninsula. However, as a middle power with limited influence and control of international order in the international community, Korea has been developing public diplomacy in the 2010s to secure soft power, one of various types of powers, and has been seeking to strengthen and consolidate relations with cooperative partners such as Latin America. This study derived practical policy proposals that will help promote Korea-Latin America relations.
The research methods used in this research are as follows. First, this study used extensive literature review as a basic research method. Existing academic studies related to public diplomacy and Korea’s public diplomacy with Latin America were reviewed to derive differentiation and originality from previous studies, and major archive data such as local public documents and news articles were collected and analyzed.
Second, an “Open Survey” agency was commissioned to examine the perception of Korea(ns) in major Latin American countries and a survey was conducted on 1,400 adults (200 per country) aged 20 or older in seven Latin American countries between May 13 and May 19, 2022. The questionnaire was carefully selected after consultation with the participating researchers, and the questions were translated into Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, and provided to the respondents. Through this, we conducted a foundation analysis to further utilize Korea’s strengths in future development of public diplomacy with Latin America and draw up policy measures to compensate for weaknesses.
Third, a case analysis was conducted to understand the current status of the Korea’s public diplomacy in major Latin American countries. Specifically, through case studies on Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala, we identified and derived main problems and challenges surrounding Korea’s public diplomacy in Latin America.
Fourth, in this study, a field research was conducted in Guatemala. The decision to conduct an field research in Guatemala is due to the specificity of Guatemala among Latin American countries. Guatemala is a place where Koreans have increased rapidly based on the Maquila industry since the 1990s. Until the early 2000s, Koreans in this region had shown the characteristics of enclaves while being thoroughly isolated from Guatemalan society for the purpose of obtaining short-term profits. However, in recent years, Guatemala’s Korean community has been carrying out various activities, realizing that it is necessary to actively interact with the local community to expand corporate profits and strengthening the national image of Korea. This situation is not limited to Guatemala, but can be seen as all countries in Latin America. Therefore, this study attempted to analyze the diversity of public diplomatic activities conducted by Korean immigrants in many Latin American countries by analyzing the case of Guatemala.
This research consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 stated the background and purpose of the study, and presented the originality of the study through analysis on existing literature related to Korea’s public diplomacy in Latin America. In addition, the scope of research and research methods were described in detail.
In the following Chapter 2, a theoretical review of Korea’s public diplomacy toward Latin America was conducted. In particular, not only a conceptual review of public diplomacy, but also an academic discussion of digital public diplomacy was also reviewed. The importance of Korea’s public diplomacy in Latin America as a country that belongs to the category of the so-called middle power was examined, and the necessity of this study was emphasized.
Chapter 3 analyzes the results of the survey, and based on this, we evaluated ‘Korea in Latin America’ to derive Korea’s effective public diplomactic strategies in Latin America in the future. Chapter 4 conducted the case studies on the current status, major achievements and some challenges and limitations of Korea’s public diplomacy in seven major Latin American countries—Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Peru, Colombia, and Guatemala, respectively.
Subsequently, Chapter 5 finally presented policy implications for strengthening public diplomacy in Latin America based on the main research results explored in Chapters 3 and 4 of this study. First, a comprehensive analysis of public diplomacy in major Latin American countries was suggested, followed by practical policy implications and major promotion strategies related to public diplomacy that can be developed at a common level in Latin America. Based on the results derived from case studies, we also derived policy implications for public diplomacy specialized in seven major Latin American countries for securing effectiveness of Korea’s public diplomacy.