Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan ordered his cabinet to avoid the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on the Aug. 15 anniversary of the end of WWII. It underscores his shift toward improving relations with Asian neighbors.

On August 12, the USC Center on Public Diplomacy's research team in Shanghai released a video conversation focusing on the South Korean pavilion.

This summer, various events in the heart of Seoul invite locals to explore the colorful arts and culture of the Black Sea region...The Black Sea Cultural Festival will take place beginning Thursday through Sunday at the National Theater of Korea, near Mt. Nam, downtown Seoul. The event will showcase the arts and traditions of Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine through dance performances, exhibition and lectures.

A diverse range of performances prepared to strengthen cultural exchange will be hosted by the National Theater of Korea from September to October. The “2010 National Theater of Korea Global Festival” has become a yearly cultural ritual so-to-speak since its inception in 2007.

A pair of Cambodian elephants arrived in Seoul on Thursday, possibly preventing the extinction of the species in Korea...After efforts by Seoul City and the Foreign Ministry, donors came from the Cambodian government as Prime Minister Hun Sen promised last month to send over a couple of fertile Asian elephants. “The Cambodian government accepted our request, in consideration of the ties between the two countries,” said a Foreign Ministry official.

“Soft power” challenged Korea’s traditional development paradigm. From the 1960s, authoritarian governments had placed absolute primacy on economic growth. Social and political development was de-prioritized as the entire nation was hitched to an economic locomotive that would convey Korea to the terminus of “advanced nations.”

As a world-renowned thought-leader on value creation through brand equity, [Martin Roll] was one of the earliest supporters of the Branding Korea Initiative and was particularly interested to share his thoughts on the challenges faced by Korea’s global brands...

Can breakdancing bring more tourists to South Korea? The Korea Tourism Organization seems to think so. And to prove its faith, it will be holding the annual R-16 KOREA 2010 event this weekend, which will this year, according to the Korea Herald, bring together ‘emerging DJs and hip-hop artists from 16 countries’ at the Olympic Park in Jamsil, Seoul.