KOREAZ YouTube Channel Delivers Digital Public Diplomacy as Entertainment

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hq720Korean culture is hot around the world. K-pop stars like BTS, Blackpink, and Stray Kids are at the top of the charts and sell out arena shows around the world. Squid Game reached number one on Netflix in 94 countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom. The government of South Korea recognizes the opportunity to use social media to promote the country and its culture to boost tourism, investment, and goodwill.

The KOREAZ social media channels including YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and X are run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea (MOFA), as an effective form of digital public diplomacy reaching people around the world.

Late last year, I delivered a talk in Seoul titled Popular Culture: From Mass to Niche Fandom at the Future Dialogue for Global Innovation event hosted by MOFA. At the lunch break, I had an opportunity to meet with several people from MOFA to learn about how they use the KOREAZ YouTube channel

“MOFA named the channel KOREAZ as it wished to let people know all about Korea, from A to Z,” Dong Jun Chung, Second Secretary, Digital Public Diplomacy Division, MOFA told me. “Its main content includes the history, culture, knowledge, and policies of Korea, along with current diplomatic issues.”

Unlike many boring government-run channels, KOREAZ understands how to reach people, and especially young people, with interesting videos which is why the KOREAZ channel has about 140,000 subscribers as of early 2024.

Reaching young people around the world with video

For example, the bi-lingual Korean and English Dive into Korea series, a variety entertainment program in which cast members directly experience Korea’s culture, features lberto, Christian, and Yasmin who are from three different countries. A description of an episode released a few weeks ago with 144,000 views and 13,000 likes as I write this: “Dressed up splendidly for autumn, the trio sets out on a mission to Deoksugung Palace, in search for Western-style buildings. From Jeongdong-gil, which is filled with fascinating stories, to the interior of Deoksugung Palace, brimming with traces of Emperor Gojong.”

“English language videos help us achieve our goals by delivering our message effectively to audiences from all countries, given the widespread use of English globally,” Chung says. “We also offer closed captioning (CC) in other languages to cater to diverse linguistic needs. For example, we provide Arabic CC for our Dive into Korea series in response to requests from fans of Yasmin, one of the cast members from Egypt.”

Other video series on the channel include:

  • KOREAZ Lab - introducing Korea’s culture compared with other countries’ culture in an experimental format.
  • KOREAZ Weekly - various public diplomacy activities at Korea’s diplomatic missions abroad.
  • KOREAZ Focus - interview with experts in specific fields, such as diplomatic policies, international events, and global challenges.

Chung says the MOFA team in Korea and at diplomatic missions abroad communicate directly with global KOREAZ YouTube subscribers through video comments. They also organize in-person youth exchange events.

I also love that the name KOREAZ is interesting and unique on social media and in search engines.

MOFA has an in-house studio, where a team from the Digital Public Diplomacy Division can film and edit videos. The planning and conceptualization of KOREAZ videos are handled internally by the KOREAZ team, while some of the filming and editing, are done in partnership with outside firms.

"The YouTube channel fits into our broader social media strategy because it is long-form video-friendly," Chung says.    “Meanwhile, as short-form videos (such as shorts or reels) gain popularity on social media, we simultaneously create both long-form and short-form videos. We generally upload only short-form videos on Facebook, Instagram, and X. By doing so, we believe that users who watch our short-form videos will seek out the longer version on YouTube if they remain interested in the topic.”

Video is a primary form of communications for people around the world. The MOFA is doing good work using video and social media to amplify Korean culture. 

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