Friday, September 30, 2011

Globalization in Culture: the Screen Quotas System in Korea

In traditional approach, globalization seems like to be criticized as to be “Americanization” the rest of the world. Like many postmodernist theorists argued, however, globalization is more than the ‘homogenization’. It is more likely to be adapted to the local culture and being “hybrided”. For example, as we see the case of “Sony” company through the reading of Sinclair this week, this Japanese company acquired the American companies and even it brings together the “software: media field” and “hardware: industrial manufacturing” together. There is other example of “hybrided” globalization in the movie industry. It is more than “Americanized”.
The movie industry of Korea can be another example of the globalization that is more than homogenization to the Western culture.

Screen Quotas System in Korea.
In January, 2006 the Korean government decided to reduce the Korean screen quota from 146 days to 73 days. This is one of the trials of Korean government to conclude the FTA agreement with the US government. This decision, however, brought huge protests from the Korean movie industry including directors, actors, actresses and other relevant field workers. People who against this decreased quota argued that the Hollywood movies which are mostly believed to guarantee a box office hit will eat away not only the current Korean movie industries but also the potentials of Korean movie market in the future.

It was believed somehow that the screen quotas protect the cultural diversities under the convention of UNESCO, Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. However, it is not that figured how exactly this convention would be applied in the multilateral trade agreements, for instance, WTO agreements.

Korean movie industry has been dramatically developed. Until 1990s, the Korean movie seemed like it has not that bright future. People unintentionally (I believe) ignore the potentials of Korean movies. Because comparing to the Hollywood movies, it was not that interesting and people think it is waste of money for seeing the Korean movies in the movie theatre. However, the Korean movie industries and technology has been developed adopting the partial of Hollywood technology and succeeded to catch up the Hollywood movies from 2000. In year of 2003, two Korean movies even win the popularity of Hollywood blockbuster, the Road of the Ring. And this Korean movies’ success brought the Korean Screen Quotas system to be decreased (with the pressure of America).

Now, Korean movies are pointing to the world market and it is quite successful in the South East market with the Hallyu boom. This is interesting because Korea is turning to the world market under the concept of globalization. We are not only accepting the other culture into our country but also export our culture to others. However, in order to develop our own culture the protective system, like Screen Quotas system is inevitable.

On the other hand, it is interesting to think how other developing countries would develop their cultural industries against to multiple incoming foreign cultures including Hollywood movies and Korean movies under the globalization. I personally hope that in cultural context, globalization is not being the tool every culture to be ‘homogenized’ but to be ‘heterogenized’ with more diversity. Like America’s multi-cultural term has been changed from melting pot to salad bowl.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Global travelers, not citizens

Globalization is one of the buzzwords of my generation. We are traveling more than ever. We make friends abroad and stay in touch on Facebook. These experiences teach us about other parts of the world, and then we consider ourselves experts. We are cosmopolitan.

Or so I thought.

I thought so until this summer. On Friday, July 22, Anders Behring Breivik carried out a bombing and a shooting massacre in Norway. The story took over CNN from the morning until late that night. I was working that night, but around 4:00 p.m. I updated my status on Facebook to “thoughts and prayers go out to Norway.” As the day went on I was surprised to see that none of my Facebook friends had done the same. As someone who has studied and worked in journalism, many of my friends keep up with the news.

The next day, July 23, my Facebook news feed filled up with expressions of sadness over English singer Amy Winehouse’s death. This continues to puzzle me. American youth react to the death of a divisive musician but not to the deaths of more than 90 Norwegians. What does this say about cosmopolitanism’s chances?  

I don’t really want to analyze why Amy Winehouse’s death received more attention online. But I do think it speaks to the culture of the nation state. Although Winehouse was English, her music was popular in the states. She resonated with Americans. Norway doesn’t stand out.

My classmate Erica gave a similar example in another class. The date September 11 is not only significant for the attacks on America in 2001. Chileans remember the date for the bloody overthrow of socialist leader Salvador Allende in 1973. Not that that connection was ever made during the American coverage of 9/11.

The Norway and Chile events are two contrasting examples when it comes to the media. The media covered the Norway massacre extensively. Any unawareness can’t be blamed on the New York Times or CNN. But many Americans like myself are ignorant of the Chilean 9/11 precisely because we have had no exposure to it. (Perhaps because the U.S. supported the coup.)

Waisbord talks about how the media have eliminated distance, thereby advancing cosmopolitanism. But he mentions a key problem. Where does a global citizen’s loyalty belong to? Her hometown, her favorite town, her college town? If all of us were global citizens, we wouldn’t have emotional ties to certain places.  As we saw with Norway, media coverage brought us the story but it evoked little emotional response from the American public. The idea that something “hits close to home” remains true. We are a long way from being global citizens.

Personal Reflections on Diaspora and US National Promotion

I am a Washington DC transplant. I was taken from the cornfields, white steeple churches and covered bridges of New England and placed into the capital of the United States of America. In the days before my departure I thought to myself, “This is the face of our nation; where everything that it is to be truly ‘American’ is represented to the fullest extent, right?”

The answer is both completely wrong and correct. I have indeed encountered what makes Washington DC the face of our nation, but my interpretations of American nationalism and local culture were completely off. We are, in the truest sense of the phrase, a melting pot. Whether it be the architecture of Chinatown; the Latin, Korean, Japanese and African eating establishments right outside my door or my roommate who speaks Mandarin to his friends back home on Skype, I cannot escape how global this national capital truly is.

I would like to employ the work of Karim H. Karim’s “Reviewing the ‘National’ in ‘International Communication Through the Lens of Diaspora” to provide some context to my personal findings.

Karim claims ethnically diverse and multi-national citizens are now being celebrated by many countries via national promotion. One example that comes to mind is South Africa, which prides itself on being the “Rainbow Nation”. It follows through on that notion by having 11 national languages, a plethora of political parties and other inklings of diversity.

But do multi-nationals, transnationals or diasporics (pick your favorite term) living in Washington DC or the US at large even feel like Americans? Looking at this topic from a communications and media standpoint, it would seem doubtful.

With the advent of worldwide technological innovations (Facebook, Skype, mobile phones, etc) that enable diasporic populations to remain tied to their native countries, there is less of a need to assimilate into “American culture”. I want to resist using this terminology, because what can we really define as American culture when there are so many subsets, many of them growing numbers of citizens who identify as multi-nationals?

This gets to a central argument of Karim and other readings from Manuel Castells and Silvio Waisbord – how is the validity of the nation-state changing in the modern day? I believe the US is the case study for how this may pan out. The external communications and information system of the US (Voice of America, etc) has depicted US life and foreign policy to the outside world for a number of years, ultimately being supported by the Smith Mundt Act of 1948. However, one stipulation of this law is that these government broadcasts and programs are not to be distributed domestically, therefore no one in the US is able to have access to how the country is being portrayed abroad by the government. The original reason for this caveat was to protect US citizens from potentially Communist-related material that may be leaked into the State Department’s programming.

Global conditions and the US population have definitely changed since this period, as Matt Armstrong of World Politics Review has pointed out in his contest of the Smith Mundt Act. Many multi-nationals living in the US are choosing to remain connected with the media in their own countries and are ignoring the events taking place in the nation in which they reside. In order to remedy this situation, the US could amend the Smith Mundt Act and allow its own citizens to be exposed to what many foreign countries hear regarding the nation.

This could very well resonate with diasporic populations that have grown accustomed to media sources like VOA and bolster nationalistic feelings within the US. On the current path, it seems there is an increasingly isolationist movement of diasporic populations, and as these populations grow, the more disillusioned the US will become with its own sense of nationalism.

South to North Information Flows

The role of the media in ethnic communities has changed in immense ways. Karim Karim talks about diaspora communities and the results of globalization for them. Because the world is expanding and linking in so many new ways, and most importantly because of technological advances, displaced communities are able to stay connected to their home nations.

One of the things Karim mentions is that most media and communication follows a North to South flow, meaning that media from developed nations like the U.S. and Western Europe reaches developing nations. But news from the South reaches the North in much smaller numbers. I personally think it’s interesting though that Karim talks a lot about diaspora media, but he doesn’t alter or change his statement that information flows are mostly North to South. I think the whole concept of diaspora media proves that information flows can also be South to North, even if it is on a smaller scale. For instance, when news from Brazil reaches a diaspora community in the U.S., that is South to North flow.

This reminds me so much of my home in Arizona. I’m not sure if this qualifies as a diaspora, but it is the ultimate short South to North trip. I’m talking about the Mexican- American community in Arizona. In some places, you can hardly consider it a displaced community. In Nogales, Arizona, you can see Nogales, Mexico from many peoples’ backyards. But they are still a people who have left their home country and live together in communities. Often, they keep their Spanish language and Mexican food, customs, holidays and religious traditions. Because this diaspora community is so close to its original home, the information flow is large and influential. There are Spanish language newspapers, many Spanish language TV stations, Spanish billboards and advertising and phone plans offering cheap international communication between the U.S. and Mexico.  I think this shows that South to North flows can and do exist.

I actually learned about a similar example that is closer to D.C. just today. There is a theater in Adams Morgan called the Ontario. It started as a high-end movie theater in the 1950s, but when the neighborhood started changing and was affected by the riots after the death of MLK Jr., its patrons stopped coming. For a while, it failed, but eventually they started playing Spanish language films there and it filled up again. This is another example of South to North diaspora media flow.

I am quite possibly understanding it wrong, but I feel like two of Karim’s theses are contradicting. He discusses the abundance of diaspora media, but still believes that media flow is almost exclusively North to South. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Global Media as of Public Sphere

The word "Democracy" origins from Greek "dempkratia', a comfound word of demos(people) and kratos(control). Democracy is, as its origin of meaning, the system which is ruled by the people. In this regards, the public sphere seems to be the core value that supports the democracy. As Castells argued, public sphere is the space where citizens share their opinions together and express to the society. Then, what is the public sphere in this industrialized society?

John Thompson (2000, recited from Castells) suggested, in industrial society, media has played the significant role as the major component of the public sphere. Through media, the interaction between civil society and states can be more activated by influencing each other. In terms of "grass-root" politics, public sphere, especially through the media, upholds the civil society as a democracy. As the globalization has been expanded to all over the world, the emergency of global media is getting to be more responsible as a public sphere. The global media brings more attention to the global civil society. In respect to this, NGOs the major player in global civil society as well as other forms of global civil society use the media for transmitting their campaigns to the world (especially to the states).

Then, what is the form of global media in this globalized world? Castells tells a diversified media system that "Internet and wireless communiation: a global, horizontal network of communiation". I agreed Castells view on the social media that it enables people to be citizen journalists and their stories will reach to all over the world. Actually, sometimes it is becoming more effective and influensive tool for global citizens to reach out comparing the other major media companies such as CNN, BBC and so on which has been criticized for its western view.

Rather than following the CNN, BBC broadcast, people tend to turn on the You Tube or Face Book in order to seek the prompt and exact news from people who are in the real situation. In my case, when there were some tensions between South Korea and North Korea, for instance, many of my friends who were in foreign country asked me whether the tensions is that serious like CNN was broadcasting through Face Book.

While it is obvious that the SNS becomes to provide the public sphere expanding the democratic environment to the world, it is still needed to examine whether this effect is pro-to support the public or not. Some people argues that these SNS also cannot avoid the biased view point and sometimes put the society in confusion with too much information. For the region where the internet access is not availale, is also cannot be covered as a public sphere of global citizen.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Communication: Attempting to Define the Undefinable

The definitions of communication are as muddled as their roots. With Plato, Aristotle, Harold Laswell, John Dewey and other philosophers/thinkers piling on top of each other's notions we receive a convoluted picture of what communication should be. Thankfully, media theorist James Carey's article "A Cultural Approach to Communication" can break it down into two distinct spheres, at least in the Western tradition of thought. These are the transmission and ritual views, and they embody what I see as the great debate of communication: is it a scientific or human study?

To borrow from Carey's definition, the transmission view of communication views the topic as more of a concrete process. It is the act of sending out messages and symbols over a certain distance for purpose of control over space. In that light, we look at an example like China, that has enlisted its "Great Firewall" to block certain bits of information from its people. This exhibits control over the communications getting to Chinese citizens, and uses communication as a tool of power.

Transmission relates to another theory that gained popularity when communication research was brought to the forefront, information theory. Developed by Claude Shannon and Warren Weaver, information theory invovled breaking down the process of communication to its technical and even mathematical roots. Instead of earlier thinkers like Laswell, who thought communication was simply a one-way process of sending a message from a sender to a receiver, Shannon and Weaver considered the possibility that a message could be altered or interrupted in its journey from sender to receiver, thereby coming up with the term 'noise'. Also, they reasoned that messages, once being received, will have a certain level of feedback to the sender, because a receiver does not simply receive a message, but will respond in some way, shape or form.

These views are systematic and technical in that they were developed to be thought of in the same way as a ballistic missile aiming for a target or nodes in a computer network communicating with one another. There is a starting point A, a destination point B and the route at which something travels, along with potential obstacles in the way.

Far from the realm of such concrete thoughts is the other classification brought up by Carey, the ritual view of communication. This takes the technical and systematic properties of the topic out of the equation and brings it into a more liberal definition. In the ritual view, communication is seen as a cultural string that ties people together.

Consider the act of watching television in the evening with your family or reading the morning newspaper. Do we participate in consuming this media simply because want to or do we participate in it because everyone else in our American culture does it? Because we feel we belong to a particular culture, we tend to participate in that culture's media or else be excluded from society and the messages/information they provide. This helps us to function as a culture and ultimately identify with one another within common standards and processes of communication. As a result, organization and control is brought about as a collective understanding and bonding of the people, rather than a control of one authority over space.

Whether one's view of communication falls more under the transmission or ritual viewpoint, it is important to note that both are constantly being fulfilled in the various communications on a global scale and are inextricably tied together. It is also of importance to remember these are just two theories in the Western thought of communication, and there are many other classifications in other regions of the world where all or none of what has been discussed is relevant. With this in mind, perhaps communication can't be boiled down to a simple definition, it is a different dish no matter where you go.

Communication in North Korea

Back in 1950s through 1990s until 15th President of Republic of Korea, Daejung Kim launched the "Sunshine Policy", the confrontation between South an North Korea can be represented as the "War of Propaganda". Not only did the North Korea severely controlled their broadcasting to the people, but also South Korean government rarely permits its Freedom of Expression to people. I remember when I was in elementary school attending a society class around early 1990s, a teacher taught us that we should not to write anything that is pro to North Korea. The teacher was warning us if we write anything good on North Korea, police will come and captivate us to jail. I believe I was only nine years old back then. Afterwards, teacher taught us how good the democracy is and how evil the communism is. At that time since I was young I do not have any idea what the democracy and communism are. I just accept what teacher taught us which we do not have any right to do anything that against our democratic government.

In North Korea, apparently, broadcast mainly through two channels one is for Chosun Chungang TV(Chosun Central TV) for domestic/ South Korea and Chosun Education and Culture for domestic North Korean. North Korea broadcast for 6 hours a day. Not surprisingly, it is strictly controlled by the government. Most of contents are about their identity as a communism, nationalism and praising their leader, Kim Il-sung and Kim Chung-il. It is said that apparently North Koreans can see the South Korean's soap opera. Well, this could be good and bad because North Koreans can get a glimpse of different world from their own country through the soap opera but they also can hold the negative bias towards the westernized South Korean society which they regards evil things.

Besides the television, North Korea use the radio for their propaganda. Most of North Koreans do not have TV in their home and they even cannot afford the electricity for television. By using the short wave radio, North Korea can transmit their propaganda to South Koreans. However, using radio does not seem to be good enough anymore for North Korea to reaching the South Koreans since radio is not favorite communication mechanism for South Koreans.

These days, North Korea uses the internet method for the communication. They create the internet website, which offers in Korean and Russian (it is interesting that they do not offer the webpage in English). They also using the Social Media such as YouTube or Twitter. On Twitter, most of the followers comment for warning the United States or South Korea. They are using very strong words for instance, diminish, demolish, fight and so on against the South Korean government. They also put some videos on You tube mostly show how good the North Korea and their leader are.

In any forms of North Korean's communication is fully controlled by the government. There is a research for the communication in North Korea:

The communication in North Korea is really unique and actually, it is one-way communication in order to control over the people. It is really unique when this way of communication actually well worked out for last 60 years. However, it seems that North Korea does not that effectively communicate to South Koreans.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Transmitting and Ritualizing

Coming from a “practical” major of broadcast journalism, this week’s intense coverage in class of communication theory has been a little rough. For me, it’s strange to talk and think so much about communicating. We are analyzing communication techniques and methods, and that process of analyzing and discussing is communication, in and of itself. I know, mind blown, right?

Anyway, this is the first time I have truly thought about communication in the abstract, as opposed to thinking of it as pure words, written and spoken. I found the differences between Transmission and Ritual theories to be the most interesting. Transmission theory of course is about the movement of goods, people and messages. It’s the transmission of messages over any distance, often for the reason of control. Ritual theory is even more abstract and claims information that’s shared in a message is less important than the act of sharing the message itself.

So I wanted to look as some messages as examples to really understand this theoretical difference.
  • Emergency Announcements – I think almost any message has some mixture of the two theories that can apply to it. But this example seems to me almost entirely Transmission theory. All over the world, whether it’s communicated through a siren, through a basic radio station in the savanna, or through TV news warning of hurricanes and earthquakes in D.C., the most important thing in all these cases is that people are informed about what they need to do to be safe. In this case, what the message says is most important.
  • Press Conferences: This might be less obvious than the last example, but I think press conferences are a great example of Ritual theory. Sure the messages might be important, but what’s in the message could easily be transmitted through a press release, newspaper article, etc. The act of holding a press conference draws together the people attending it, but also the many people who watch it or see clips of it on the news. It creates community. That’s why when Obama makes an announcement, everyone watches. The next day, everyone chats about it at the water cooler. Do you think everyone would chat about a press release that gets written up in the same way ?
  • Super Bowl commercials: I think Super Bowl commercials are a great example of a combination of Transmission and Ritual theories. They are first and foremost an advertisement, so they are meant to sell what they are promoting. In that way, the message is important. In addition though, all commercials (but especially Super Bowl commercials) want to get people talking and create a community that is centered on their product or service.
  • Nightly news: I see nightly news as another example of both theories. On a micro level, what is told in one specific story can be important in its message. But on a macro level, when people watch one station’s nightly news every night, they form a feeling of community and belonging with the anchor, reporters and other viewers.

Looking at these concrete examples really helps me conceptualize these theories. I think it also proves that there is no right answer. Neither theory takes everything into account. We learned about lots of other theories, like Modernization theory and Dependency theory, but they tackle completely different and more complex aspects of communications. I feel like there is no theory that combines transmission and ritual theories that defines basic communication in a way that makes sense and I think that’s strange… maybe it’s time for a new theory? 

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A Defense of the Propaganda Model

As an elementary school student in the United States, my social studies classes focused on government. Not government in general, really, but the American form of government. It's clearly the most desirable and most effective system in existence, the textbooks proclaimed, so why bother learning about dictatorships? The same was true for studying the economy. The capitalist model was the only one presented. Alternative economic or governmental systems were only discussed in high school and in reference to some conflict. World War II was an example of how dictatorships lead populations astray, and communism was never discussed much outside of the Cold War.

Throw the daily recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance into the mix, and it was hard for a kid not to grow up thinking the U.S. is No. 1 in all things. At least that was my experience. So it came as somewhat of a surprise when we mentioned in our International Communication class that the U.S. was initially reluctant to produce propaganda for what it considered irrefutable merits. Growing up an American, it seemed like propaganda was an inherent part of the culture. In this country freedom of expression is considered an obviously positive value, so much so that the opposite becomes difficult to imagine. Even at the university level, American students may scratch their heads when asked to contemplate a society in which freedom of expression is not the norm. "But how could democracy function without it?" we ask ourselves. And we find ourselves back in the same ethnocentrism we’ve been fed since elementary school.

It’s interesting that the U.S. has made a dramatic turnaround since those early reservations. Since realizing that the rest of the world was not as accepting of American values, things have changed. Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman have gone so far as to describe the American mainstream media in their "propaganda model." In “Approaches to theorizing international communication,” Daya Thussu defines the theory. The propaganda model claims that because mainstream media news must go through several filters, such as ownership and advertising, before reaching the public, the news usually comes out supporting the status quo. Since the mass media operate like a business, it makes sense that news outlets would be reluctant to antagonize their sources of funding by questioning or undermining their values. Thussu acknowledges that the propaganda model has received a great deal of criticism.

In the essay “The Propaganda Model: A Retrospective,” Herman defends the model. He illustrates his point with an interesting contrast.  In the early 1980s, there were two parallel crackdowns by foreign governments. The Polish and Turkish governments both took severe action against unions. The crackdown in Poland received significant coverage in the American news media because the workers were so-called victims of a Soviet state. On the other hand, the American media looked favorably upon Turkey and did not condemn its government’s actions in the media. It’s hard to justify this type of dichotomy from a journalistic standpoint, since the press professes to provide fair and balanced coverage.

What’s notable about Herman and Chomsky’s theory is that it doesn’t claim that the propaganda is always successful at swaying the audience. Herman lists several examples, including the Vietnam War, as cases of when the public didn’t buy into what the media and the ruling class proposed. The propaganda model gives more credit to the discerning capabilities of the audience, as opposed to the critical theory, which presents the audience as unquestioning of what the mass media produce. Some of the public may take news at face value. But Herman’s examples of how the media spin certain issues should be proof enough for the rest of us that even the media have an agenda. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Fine Line Between Nationalism and Ethnocentrism

September 11th has obviously been on everyone’s mind over the last week. An issue that keeps coming to mind is ethnocentrism vs. nationalism. How do you differentiate between these two terms that can often be used very vaguely? In Dr. Gary Weaver’s address to the 2005 Ayoma Symposium on International Communication, he talks about the field of International Communications when he was in school for his PhD in International Relations. His major issue was the way domestic and foreign affairs were kept completely separate. They were treated as two separate entities with little or no overlap. Part of the reason for that was that we had not in modern times fought a war on our own soil. We had lost plenty of lives in war, but these men and women didn’t die on American land. That made it easier to keep up this illusion that war was completely a part of foreign domain and domestic issues were a whole different ball game.

Dr. Weaver also speaks about the birth of International Development and International Communications programs and how they were based on the ideals of ethnocentrism. These programs often took the stance that development meant becoming more Americanized. Obviously we have, for a large part, overcome ethnocentrism in these academic programs. But is ethnocentrism still a large part of our culture?

Though this is by no means academic, there was an unsourced quote going around facebook this weekend:

At this moment more than 100 times the amount of people who died on 9/11 are starving in Somalia. In Syria countless thousands are being tortured behind closed doors. In North Korea, Israel, Zimbabwe, and all across the world, people's freedom and dignity as human beings are constantly stomped upon by those with might. While today we should solemnly remember the 9/11 victims, tomorrow we should turn our attention to the multitudes who are still in need.

This quote implies that the U.S. is still ethnocentric as a country and as a culture. But it got me thinking… yes, there are more people dying worldwide from a huge and terrible array of tragedies. But 9/11, from an American viewpoint, was our tragedy. It happened in our backyard and it was mostly our fellow countrymen who were killed. Isn’t it natural that a country feels its own losses more than those happening halfway across the world? But in this increasingly global world, I’m not sure how these definitive borders stand up anymore. How does a country balance what happens within its own borders with what is happening in other places? It goes back to Weaver’s comments on the separatism between domestic and foreign affairs. What is nationalism and what is ethnocentrism? I’ve proposed a lot of questions, none of which I have the answers for.

But I have to believe there is a way that we can have national pride but also be more globally aware. I think other countries actually set some beautiful examples of this over the weekend. A CNN article reported on events worldwide that commemorated the 10th anniversary of 9/11. In Sydney, firefighters climbed 80 flights of stairs in Sydney Tower to remember the climb that 9/11’s first responders did. In Paris a remembrance ceremony was held and a French mother interviewed said “she felt the need to be there to support the United States.” She remembered a headline from Le Monde from ten years ago that read “We are all Americans.”

My favorite story is another one CNN reported. It’s of a young Kenyan warrior who was in New York ten years ago and felt like he needed to do something. In his tribe’s tradition, a cow is meant to provide comfort and is the most valuable thing one can have. So his tribe managed to give the U.S. a herd of cows. Because of all kinds of problems, the cows could not be brought to the U.S. so this tribe is now caring for a herd of “America’s cows.” They all have Twin Towers brands on their ears.

I feel like these stories show national pride, but they are about reaching out to another country and to the global community. I see them as good examples of taking nationalism to a place where you can’t even compare it to ethnocentrism.

Korea's Culture: Quickness

In Korea, we have a very unique culture: quick, quick and quick. There is a joking that when foreigners live in Korea, the first word they will learn would be "quick" because it is the most using word in Korea. Oneday, one of my friends from France told me that the quick culture in Korea especially hard when she eats with her Korean friends. Since Koreans eat so fast, she also needs to be in hurry to finish her dishes. In France, she eats almost 2-3 hours for dinner but in Korea, she eats half an hour for dinner, she said.

Then, how Koreans quick culture was formed in Korea? Some people argue that "the culture of quickness" is developed based on Koreans' need for economic growth in order to escape from its poverty and ruins after the Japanese colonization and the Korean War. Indeed, its industrialization after 1960s, Korea has been achieved economic prospericy with amazing speed. These days, it is also examined that the "quickness culture" enables Korea not only to enjoy its economic growth but also to be one of the highest Information and Communication Technology (ITC) access in the world (ITU, 2003, pp.1)

Korea as one of the highest Information and Communication Technology (ITC) access in the world

With its economic development, it was assumed that Koreans are not uncomfortable with the change. They tend to adopt easily for the new technology. When the internet was introduced in Korea, it was also well accepted to the society. Actually, internet was a great tool to work faster than before. When Koreans realized how the internet accomodate its working, studying and relationship, Koreans seek to faster use of internet. The Korean government and the corporations are coresponding well to this demand. They actively encourage this IT industry by educating technitions, funding the project and deregulate the policies on IT.

As a consquence, Korea become to have high ICT access in the world. According to the fortune, Korea boast its fastest internet speed in the world. The internet speed in Korea is 7 times faster than the world average and tremedously higher than Hong Kong, the second in ranking. However, this measurement also includes the internet speed through personal mobile. If this speed does not include the mobile internet users, the internet speed is much faster than this.

High Percentage of Mobile Users in Korea

Samsung, LG is the one of the leading moblie companies in Korea. They could develop their mobile industry in Korea with the increasing number of mobile users in Korea. Among young people in Korea, there is even a new word created for indicating the young people who use the text message for communication: The thumbs. Using their thumbs, Korean young people send the text message with other friends really quickly.

After the emergence of smart phone brought the life change in Korea again. People are networking through their mobiles and they communicate through their smart phone in real time. The social network in Korea has been developed. Cyworld (Korean Version of Facebook) and NAVER (Korean Version of Google) are the most famous social networks in Korea. In 2008, according to the Richard MacMaus, the users of Cyworld is 20 millions while the users of facebook is 60 milions. Comparing that the population in Korea is about 50 millions, the users of cyworld is almost 40%. (source from

Smart phone enable the Koreans to access the SNS from any place in Korea whenever they want. Many of Koreans use unlimited internet use through their phone which make easier to use SNS for their daily life. However, it sometimes intrude into other people's privacy life.

For example, few years ago, there was a girl who did not clean the dog dung in a metro. When people asked her to clean it, she igonored them and just left. When this was happened, one person recorded it and posted it into his blog. When others visit his blog through phone or computer, they copied and pasted to their own SNS and it spread in Korea. Her personal record, university she attends, her friends and so on was revealed and she was suffered from all the critics from all over the country. It was happened in 2005.

The other thing which was interesting through here is that the broadcasting company is using the source from SNS recorded by an ordinary person. When this incident became a hot issue in Korea, the broadcasting company use this video for their resources. It obviously shows that the SNS changes directions of news source from one way to bi-directional.

With its development of Internet, Korea society has been changed increasingly and furthermore, SNS is in the center of this change. SNS still is growing and becoming the more important tool for communicating not only with friends, family and aquaintance but also with society and the world. Through the SNS the society and world are getting smaller in terms of exchanging the information.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 and the Case for Inter-Nationalism

We know media has nation-building characteristics. As our readings from “The Information Revolution and World Politics,” “The Historical Context of International Communication” and “The Emergence of Technical Networks” have discussed, the introduction of a communication technology to a group will assist in beginning to build a sense of connectivity. These connections can be facilitated through similar language, affiliation, cultural background, a common authority or other contributing factors.

However, with the advancement of technology in the modern day, where groups can form beyond international borders under the umbrellas of similar interest or experience (i.e. Internet forums, Facebook groups, blogs) the question arises: can there be inter-nation building through international media?

I would like to preface this notion by clearly defining how I plan to use the term internationalism. This term is often referenced as more of an antithesis of nationalism where there is cooperation between nations for their common good. I would like to bend this definition to include nations that may perhaps devote as much or more attention to the interests of another nation rather than their own.

The recent 10-year anniversary of the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States could stand as an example of this internationalism. Upon a quick search of some of the more commonly known international news sites (Xinhua News, Times of India, The Australian, Guardian, Le Monde, BBC, Al Jazeera), all noted the anniversary of the attacks as the top story on their page, some even running multi-story packages on the subject. Given what we have learned from our readings, is it possible that these regions of the world are consuming from their respective outlets and thereby assigning priority to events in the US over their home countries?

Certainly the annual remembrance of the attacks bolster nationalism within the US in the form of symbols of patriotism, reaching out to one another, charity, etc, but are citizens of these other nations feeling the same enthusiasm toward the US because they are exposed to the same media coverage?

There are some caveats to this case. First, the US media landscape has historically dominated internationally, as our readings from Elizabeth Hanson and Daya Thussu noted. According to these readings, the US was the frontrunner in wireless telegraphy/radio broadcasting, telephone communication, television broadcasting and the advent of the Internet, all of which are now utilized internationally. This created a media landscape that was heavily US-dependent, then US-centered as regional media developed. Also, the attacks took place at the World Trade Center in New York City, a location and area that is perhaps not best described in the context of just the US, but as an international center in itself.

I would be intrigued to research whether this is only an observation with the US or if this could be applied to other groups of countries. For example, do smaller Asian countries such as Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal rely heavily upon media from India in their respective news outlets and thereby exhibit nation-building characteristics for India as well as their own nation?

This is yet to be examined in depth, but I thought to raise this particular question in light of our discussion on international communication power and influence and the timely example of the 9/11 attacks. I’d welcome any thoughts on the subject.

Technology and Patterns

History is a circular novel. An old teacher of mine used to work that phrase into all of her lessons. Most of us are probably familiar with the similar saying, “History repeats itself.” This idea is evident in the evolution of international communication. Elizabeth Hanson, Daya Thussu, and Armand Mattelart describe the major technological advances in communication since the invention of the printing press. Their writing reveals a major theme, which was also brought up in Thursday’s class, about human reaction to technology.

Each discovery appears a revolution. It inspires feelings of new and endless possibilities that will forever change the nature of communication. At times these feelings excite the public and worry the state or current power. The printing press gave people access to information that wasn’t through the Catholic Church. Fears of international conspiracy affected French postal directors under Louis XIII. The result was a breach of postal secrecy, manifested in a bureau called the Black Cabinet.[1] Regulation has become an important point of discussion. The first international organization was formed to regulate the telegraph with the International Telegraph Union. But communication would only become faster and more convenient after the telegraph.  

With time, while technologies didn’t always replace each other (video did not actually kill the radio star), their roles changed. Prof. Craig Hayden made the point that technology stands in for other things based on our expectations of its capabilities. What can this new tool do? The radio became a strategic tool of public diplomacy.[2] Broadcasts could carry the American perspective to other parts of the world. Thussu included a fascinating case study of the Indian government’s attempt to educate rural communities through satellite television.[3] Programming included lessons on health and agriculture. The initiative was largely unsuccessful. Viewers absorbed beneficial information but lacked methods of implementation. Here government saw technology as an opportunity to disseminate information.  

The readings also question that instinct. They ask who should control the flow of information. With television, Britain and the United States took opposite approaches. The BBC model reflects the belief that government should contribute to culture and education. Therefore programming should be government-sanctioned. The U.S., however, saw broadcasting as a form of entertainment to be controlled largely by the private sector. 

Society faces some of the same questions, with a few new additions, when looking at the Internet. The issue of expectation is an ever-present factor. Users expect the Internet to be certain things including free and anonymous. This may have made sense when its functions were only basic file sharing and email. Now the myriad of possibilities make Internet regulation a much more sensible proposition. The Internet is incredibly different than the first printing press. But the attempts to harness and control its capabilities are just the most recent development in the technological pattern.

[1] Mattelart, Armand. “The Emergence of Technical Networks.”
[2] Hanson, Elizabeth. “The Origins of the Information Revolution. “
[3] Thussu, Daya. “The Historical Context of International Communication.”