Cultural Strategies in Korea and Kenya

Understanding Soft Power, Social Power, Culture, and Public Diplomacy

3. Van Hamm describes the social powers within popular culture with examples that show how throughout recent history American policymakers during and even after times of “conflict” leverage the attraction of American pop culture as a means of perpetuating the dominant American WASP culture and values of individualism and liberalism. The popularization of American culture provided a consumerable form of political influence that “stokes the American ego” and spreads beyond our borders. A “media and information war” as Van Hamm describes it, would not be labeled a form of soft power, more specifically, within news and entertainment media and their ability to be more effective in producing American social power. Van Hamm references the role of “Hollywood” in social power during and after the Cold War.

In the case presented by Wu-Sok Cho, a similar situation has emerged where the marriage of pop culture and social power, known as the “Korean Wave,” has used the attraction of entertainment media to enrich their national image at home and abroad. As a result, South Korea has emerged from its state of penurious helplessness post-WWII as a “middle power.” Cho cites the recent incidents (such as “Gangnam Style” in pop music) as forms of the continuing explosion and exportation of Korean culture as allowing it to become a shareholder in many industries. What’s special about this cultural wave in Korea is the ability for it to communicate the resilience of Korean nationality, a country that has suffered and changed dramatically within the last half century.

Strategic Influence and Strategic Communication

2. Chris Paul outlines suggestions for improving strategic communication, particularly between government command and their military. In light of these suggestions, the actions and evidence of clear confusion and misconduct of Kenyan law enforcement during the Westgate Mall attacks was abysmal. Al-Shabaab had actively used it’s Twitter account (micro-blogging) as a way of propagating and communicating not only to their followers, but on a public forum, not only their intentions, but specific details on the ongoing attacks. Had Kenyan command had made better use/had higher awareness of the effectiveness of this communication tool for al-Shabaab, it could have decreased the initial confusion that lead to disastrous attempts to end the attack.

Paul identifies the importance of law enforcement commanders to “embrace and prioritize inform, influence, and persuade efforts.” He describes this as forming a “communication mindset” that includes everyone: commanders, decision makers, and subordinates alike. Al-Shabaab had successfully built a “communication mindset” amongst it’s militant group with their virtual followers. Along with forming this mindset, a “creation of credibility” in the government is an equally important strategic step in raising efficiency. By increasing communication links and credible interdependency between Kenyan PD and law enforcement would allow greater probability to identify al-Shabaab’s “set of planned actions,” which had been transmitted and signaled via Twitter.

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