How do the world’s greatest minds appraise Seoul’s disease control and prevention measures as well as the value of its city brand in the COVID-19 era?
Three experts—Guy Sorman, visiting professor at Paris Institute of Political Studies and a globally acclaimed critic of culture and civilization; Jacques Attali, economist, futurologist and president of PlaNet Finance; and Simon Anholt, an international marketing consultant and founder of the Good Country Index who created the term “nation branding”—showed their high appreciation of Seoul’s response to COVID-19 and said the global society now regards Seoul as a “safe city.”
However, they suggested that in order to promote the positive image of Seoul as a safe city and make it have a bigger influence, Seoul should demonstrate leadership in addressing the problems in the international community, such as climate change, human trafficking, violation of human rights, and environmental pollution as well as COVID-19 policies.
Sorman, Attali, and Anholt participated in the 5th Seoul Brand Global Forum, which took place at Taepyeong Hall of Seoul City Hall under the theme of “Seoul Initiative: The Future of City Leadership” on October 28, 2020 to discuss the global leadership and vision of Seoul after COVID-19.
First, Sorman emphasized that Seoul should actively use two concepts, “safe” and “Korean civilization” to build its global brand.
He said, “Safety is very important at the moment. The international community is talking about South Korea’s strategies against COVID-19 and the concept of ‘safe city Seoul’ is a hidden treasure,” and that “Seoul should promote safety in citizens’ daily life and safety from aggression, as well as show that it is a city that is safe at any time, from aggression to disease.”
Attali also gave a favorable review on the COVID-19 measure of Seoul and said the city is now regarded as one of the most important cities in the world, going beyond a simple brand.
He said, “Seoul is more vigilant than any other cities in the world to respond to COVID-19 and exert its capacity. Seoul possesses high-quality hygiene facilities and good medical capacity,” and “Seoul has shown the best ability to address the COVID-19 issue by making lots of masks and COVID-19 tests available for citizens.”
He explained that “COVID-19 demonstrated that a good city prepares for the well-being of not only the citizens of today but citizens of tomorrow, which is what I call a positive society or positive city.”
Anholt said, “if Seoul works visibly and creatively to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on its neighbor cities or countries or even on the whole world, it will enjoy the improved image of the nation.”
He added, “if it works the same way to tackle climate change, migration, pollution, human trafficking, corruption, conflicts, human rights abuse or any other global challenges, the image of the country and the city will improve and it will accelerate the economic growth.”