MFA

Mind the Gap Sign

Jeffrey Robertson outlines the benefits of introducing digital media education to the Korea National Diplomatic Academy.

Positioned in the top ranks of connectivity, internet speed, smartphone ownership, and social media usage, South Korea should be a leader in the use of digital technologies in public diplomacy. It should be an avid adapter – ready to build upon its strengths to upgrade and improve its public diplomacy for a new technological era. But it’s not. It faces distinct political, cultural, and technological challenges to reach its full potential.

Last week, as news of Brexit broke, foreign ministries throughout the world took to social media to comment on the UK’s decision to leave the EU. The German foreign ministry responded by changing its Twitter profile picture/cover photo from an image of the foreign minister to the EU flag. [...] An intriguing question is how do MFAs use their Twitter profile pictures/cover photos. Are these used to promote the national brand, or to project a certain institutional image or perhaps to make political statements as was the case with the Germany’s foreign ministry?

Recent years have seen a growing academic interest in the migration of MFAs (foreign ministries) to social media. However, the majority of digital diplomacy studies tend to focus on the activities of Western and North American MFAs. This Euro- and American-centric approach fails to recognize the fact that digital diplomacy is now a global phenomenon.