Results of 2019 KOCIS survey on Korea's national image announced

Date Feb 04, 2020

- Hallyu exerts biggest influence on int'l perceptions of nation -


The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and its subsidiary Korean Culture and Information Service last year held from July 18 to Aug. 22 an online survey of 8,000 respondents from 16 countries (including Korea) on Korea's national image. The study was launched in 2018 to systematically measure global perceptions of Korea.


76.7% of people abroad have positive image of Korea


The survey found that 76.7% of foreign nationals and 64.8% of Koreans had a positive perception of Korea, showing a shared overall image of positivity. The percentage of Koreans with a positive image of their country jumped ten percentage points from 54.4% in 2018. The gap between the rates of those abroad with a positive image of Korea and Koreans who agreed also narrowed from 25.9 percentage points in 2018 to 11.9 last year.



매우 긍정적: Very positive

다소 긍정적: Somewhat positive

보통: Neither positive nor negative

다소 부정적: Somewhat negative

매우 부정적: Very negative

한국인이 생각하는: Koreans' perception

외국인이 생각하는: Global perception

'18년 조사 결과: Results of 2018 survey


The respondents picked Korean pop culture such as K-pop, movies and literature as the main factor behind Korea's positive image (38.2%), followed by economic development (14.6%), cultural heritage (14%), and products and brands (11.6%). Thus culture and Hallyu were two leading drivers of the nation's positive image abroad.



Factors affecting global perceptions of Korea



긍정응답: positive response

부정응답: negative response

대중문화 Pop culture

경제수준 Economic development

문화유산 Cultural heritage

제품/브랜드 Products/brands

북핵 문제 North Korea's nuclear issue

교육 수준 Education level

스포츠 Sports

정치 상황 Political situation

전쟁위험/해소 Risk of war or its resolution

국제적 위상 Global standing

순수 예술 Fine art

복지 수준 Welfare level

치안 수준 Public safety


Russia, SE Asia, Latin America have highest images of Korea


By nationality, most of the respondents with a positive image of Korea (above 85%) were from Russia, Southeast Asia (including Thailand and Indonesia), Central and South America (including Brazil and Mexico), India and the United Arab Emirates. Yet the percentage of Japanese with a negative perception of Korea was 53.2%, up from 43.4% in 2018. The rise might have been due to the bilateral row over the Korean Supreme Court's 2018 verdict on Koreans forced to work during Japanese colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in the early 20thcenturyandJapan'sexportrestrictionsimposedlastyearonKorea.


Perception of Korea by nationality



한국인: Koreans

외국인: Foreign nationals

러시아: Russia

인도 India

브라질 Brazil

태국 Thailand

인도네시아 Indonesia


멕시코 Mexico

남아공 South Africa

프랑스 France

호주 Australia

미국 U.S.

영국 U.K.

독일 Germany

중국 China

일본 Japan


World experiences Korea mostly via pop culture


The survey found that the most accessible sectors of Korea for the world were pop culture such as K-pop, movies and dramas (37.8%), economy (16.8%), national security (13.9%) and cultural heritage (10.5%). By region, respondents from Asia and the U.S. gained information about Korea mostly through pop culture, those from Europe and Australia via national security and those from Russia via economy. Respondents from Japan said they learned about Korea mostly through pop culture (45%), followed by politics and diplomacy (15.4%).


The media through which the respondents attained information on Korea the most were broadcast TV and radio (66.6%) and online means such as social media (63.9%). Most respondents said broadcast media was their main medium but those from the seven countries targeted by Korea's New Southern Policy such as Thailand (87.4%), Indonesia (86.4%) and India (77.8%) and from Central and South America such as Mexico (78.2%) and Brazil (73.2%) cited online media.


World thinks of 'K-pop' first when considering Korea's image


The survey's respondents showed that when thinking of Korea, K-pop (12.5%) comes to mind first, followed by Korean food (8.5%) and culture and cultural heritage (6.5%). The survey showed that Hallyu is the keyword that represents Korea.


Peaceful solution to inter-Korean issues is crucial to raising Korea's image


On how Korea can further raise its national image, most respondents chose a solution to inter-Korean issues (33.8%), followed by Korean attitudes toward foreigners (15.1%) and global marketing to attract foreign visitors (15%). The top response among Japanese respondents was Korean attitudes toward foreigners (27.2%), and Brazilians stressed global marketing to attract foreign visitors (23%).


Australia, the U.K. and Mexico were among countries from which a high percentage of respondents said Korea must conduct global marketing to attract foreign visitors to improve its national image. Relatively few people from such countries have visited Korea, so an expanded effort to promote tourism in Korea to these countries is expected to greatly boost Korea's international visitor count.


7 countries targeted in New Southern Policy have high image of Korea


The survey reflected the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations)-Republic of Korea Commemorative Summit held in Busan last year and the expanded exchanges with countries targeted by Korea's New Southern Policy. A special committee on the policy helped increase the number of countries included in last year's survey. The first study in 2018 polled just three nations targeted by the policy – India, Thailand and Indonesia – but four countries were added last year: Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and the Philippines.


With the addition of the four, the seven countries targeted by the New Southern Policy showed 90% of respondents having a positive image of Korea, far higher than the average of all 15 countries surveyed (76.7%) and that of Koreans with a positive image of their country (64.8%).


Image of Korea by 7 New Southern Policy countries



매우 긍정적: Very positive

다소 긍정적: Somewhat positive

보통: Neither positive nor negative

다소 부정적: Very positive

매우 부정적: Somewhat positive

신남방국가 7개국:

외국인: Foreign nationals

한국인: Koreans

'19년 국가이미지 조사: 2019 survey on Korea's national image


Overseas promotion tailored for each country needed


Based on the survey's results, KOCIS plans to boost overseas exchanges based on the level of closeness and the strengths and weaknesses of each sector, and implement promotion abroad tailored for each region. It will also support cultural exchanges on a civic level with Japan despite bilateral tension.


The results of the 2019 national image survey are available on the websites of the Ministry ( and KOCIS (