Story of VANK
Greetings! Welcome to the Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), the cyber diplomatic organization.
We will now tell first visitors how VANK started and grew, and will develop further. Through the story of VANK, you can know how an individual’s dream became an association’s vision and later a nation’s vision. First visitors will get to know more about VANK, the vision of a nation and beyond, by engaging in diverse activities of VANK.
Like the biblical expression, “The mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches”, the growth procedure of VANK is in six stages as follows: Seed → Taking Root → Bud → Luxuriant Branches → Luxuriant Leaves → Nesting Birds.
Do you want to know how a small seed of VANK is growing into a big tree? Now, let’s talk about the six-stage development story of VANK.
It started when a young man exchanged e-letters with a foreign friend. The man introduced Korea to the foreign friend only to be shocked at the foreign friend’s wrong information on Korea. Though the friend had distorted information on Korea, the friend wanted to know about Korea exactly and to visit Korea. He was encouraged by his friend and started to run on-line tour guide activities, promoting Korea to foreigners.
In addition, the Korean man found out that there had been many errors or mistakes on Korean history and territory in his pen-pal friend’s textbooks and world maps. So, he sent written protest to the related famous foreign textbook publishing companies so that they could deliver right information on Korea. This is the history of Voluntary Agency Network of Korea (VANK), established in 1999.
“Though mustard seed is small, but brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches.”
VANK started to take root and have a dream. The Center of Asia, Gateway of Northeast Asia!
The Republic of Korea shares its dream and friendship with all people in the world!
VANK hopes Korea to become a center of Asia, gateway of Northeast Asia and
economically prosperous so that it can share its wealth with all people across the globe. It also wishes Korea to grow into a mentally prosperous and globally loved nation by sharing its vision and friendship with all people in the world. VANK spares no effort in realizing these visions.
The VANK marches on today, too, with sense of mission and devotion to achieve
VANK has the following missions. First, it helps the 800 million overseas netizens change their image and mind-set over Korea. Second, it helps the 6.5 million dispersed Koreans become one. Lastly, it encourages the 70 million Koreans to achieve their dream and vision. We wish VANK’s visions and missions take root deeply and widely….
Training VANK cyber diplomats who can be compared with the rooted bud are the most important and core activities of VANK. Until now, VANK has cultivated numerous cyber diplomats who are continuously expanding their frontiers through more brisk activities. Our diplomats first build up friendship with foreign friends by exchanging sincere letters and sharing dream and visions before promoting Korea. Trust and friendship will help our diplomats to introduce Korea and their villages to their foreign friends. In deed, trust and friendship have brought many changes among foreigners.
They have started to be eager to know about Korea and study Korean language using Korean dictionary. Some of them are preparing the High Diplomatic Service Examination to become diplomats in the Korean embassy. What is more, some foreigners have sent protest letters to foreign publishing companies to urge that their textbooks’ wrong expression of “Sea of Japan” should be changed into “East Sea”.
They have bothered to do these just because Korea is the nation of their friends. VANK thinks all we need is not the showy attitude of Koreans but just each Korean’s sincerity and trustfulness in promoting Korea throughout the world.
Korea, the country of my friend
VANK is well aware of that promoting Korean with just a foreigner requires much time and effort. However, we believe only those invested love, joy, goodness, perseverance and sincerity can transform Korea into a “country of my friend” in the end. Any one regardless of nationality, age and sex or even the level of foreign language skills can become VANK cyber diplomats after taking the 14-stage training course.
The 14-stage cyber diplomat training course
Collecting Korea PR information data → Self-introducing in English and introducing Korea → Promoting Korea through e-penpal → Public relation of Korea in the chatting room → Becoming an international expert → Translating foreign news → Discovering wrong information on Korea →Sending goodwill letters to foreign publishing companies → Sending collaborative letters to foreign organizations → Sending interchanging letters to foreign schools → Sending protest letters → Binding overseas Koreans → Realizing the dream of VANK → Realizing the dream of Korea
Diverse activities of VANK cyber diplomats have become the main source of making luxuriant branches. From children to old people, various aged people are engaging in VANK activities. Juveniles are exposed to violence and lewd culture in the cyber space and faced with the exam hell. However, many of them have been deeply interested in VANK activities since they can learn a genuine lesson by building up a friendly relationship with foreigners while promoting Korea.”
Coincidently, many Koreans are worried about the Japan’s distortion of its history in their textbooks, so, many Koreans actively partaking in VANK’s “9 Major Projects To Promote Korea Rightly”.
Training all Koreans as cyber diplomats : It focuses on cultivating cyber diplomats by establishing a whopping 10.000 clubs in nation-wide elementary, middle and high schools as well as universities. The vision of VANK will grow into the vision of all Koreans.
E-pen palling with foreign friends : It targets Internet-savvy Korean juveniles to be more fluent in English and expand their intellectual horizon by making friends with foreigners through e-pen palling.
Correcting distorted information on Korea : Foreign textbooks with distorted information on Korea are now being rapidly circulated on the Internet after having spread across the world over the past years. This project is to cut off further diffusion and correct the distorted information.
Establishing international cooperative network : It creates windows that can deliver new and diverse information on Korea in an effective and sustainable manner by cooperating with influential overseas associations.
Taking pictures of my village : It promotes Korea to as many as foreigners by making DB that holds diverse pictures of Korean historic relics and cultural heritages of more than 5,000 years.
Constructing search engine of Korean information : It helps overseas netizens have right information on Korea without major difficulties in colleting or searching information by systematically gathering and networking all dispersed online information on Korean culture, history and lifestyle.
Network for oversea Koreans : It secures a personal network composed of Overseas Korean Student Association, children of overseas Koreans and Koreans adopted into foreign families abroad and establishes a community that brings together all 6.5 million overseas Koreans to promote Korea rightly.
English newspaper, Friendly Korea : Our cyber diplomats participate in making Friendly Korea targeting potential foreign visitors to Korea and foreigners residing in Korea.
Luxuriant leaves are the ongoing fruits of VANK’s diverse activities and its future tasks. As long as we believe in the “Mustard Seed Conception” we will surely achieve our dream and vision.
VANK helps Koreans to believe in the “Mustard Seed Conception” and become the witnesses who can truly show that the miracle of mustard seed is the engine of Korean change.
Korea is changing : VANK’s Korean promoting activities targeting more than 6 billion foreigners are upgrading the national image of Korea and leading the genuine change of Korean politics, economy, society and culture. For a real promotion of Korea throughout the world, Koreans first need to have a right information and knowledge on Korea while correcting any distorted and wrong matters.
Korean young children are changing : Numerous children exposed to the violent and lewd online environment are fighting against the temptation of indulgence to share their vision and friendship with overseas friends through VANK activities. Finally, they will have their bright and beautiful viewpoint that world is a beautiful place without skin color or language discrimination.
Korean juveniles are changing : Many juveniles who had studied without any purposes in ugly educational environment started to study voluntarily after seeing the activities of VANK juveniles. More juveniles will study harder to introduce Korea to their foreign friends. They are also getting more interested in their foreign friends’ counties. Therefore, they will spend more time on studying English for a smoother conversation. That means Korean juveniles will begin to study voluntarily to get more knowledge.
Finally, Korean young men are changing : Diverse activities of VANK have reversed the decision of many Korean young men who wanted to emigrate after having lost their hopes. Those young men will change their mind-set and love Korea more than before, after they realize that other countries will be treated by foreigners according to the national status of their own country. That means they will work harder to make Korea more prosperous and wonderful country.
Trees with luxuriant branches and leaves will welcome a lot of birds.
No wonder the bigger trees are, more birds will come. VANK will do its utmost to become a tree with luxuriant branches and leaves, welcoming numerous birds.
VANK dreams that Korea becomes a center of Asia and gateway of Northeast Asia. But the ultimate goal of VANK is making Korea that shares its dream and vision with all people across the globe. In doing so, Korea can become a genuine respected leader in the world.
When we lead the world by sharing our vision and dreams, Korea will be truly loved by the whole world. Having goodwill relations with all people across the world based on national reconciliation is the vision of VANK as well as of Korea in this 21st century. How proud Korea is, by thinking that Korea is a leader of Asia and shares its vision and dream with the world.
This is the future of VANK and Korea. This is the dream of all cyber diplomats of VANK and all Koreans. Although the mustard seed is the smallest among other seeds, it brings forth a large tree, and the fowls lodge in the branches. Like this, if we put our small effort into practice continuously, we can realize any dream that seems to be far away.
VANK hopes to share our dream and vision with all of you with the “Mustard seed conception”.
Forest of Hope
A forest is a place for sharing. In the forest, birds find trees to build a nest, and people find materials to make houses, furniture, and paper.
A forest is a source of life. It produces fresh air and purifies rainwater.
Furthermore, a forest provides a safeguard that protects us from floods. It also provides a rest area that allows us to leave all our worries behind and take a rest in nature.
VANK is building a forest like this in the minds of people. We want this forest to become a place where anybody can come and find hope for themselves and their country.
Our vision is to enhance the national brand of Korea, build a forest of life and hope in order to attract the people of the world, and ensure a better future for Koreans.
What do you think are the international images of Korea?
Korea is the country that achieved an economic miracle, known as the miracle of the Han River. It successfully hosted the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Its economy is developed enough to lead construction projects of the world’s tallest buildings. However, many foreigners still quickly associate Korea with negative images, such as being the only divided country in the world, combative labor-management relations, and a small peninsula between China and Japan. A national brand is made up of such images that are associated with a country. The reason a national brand is so important is that it greatly influences other brand values of the country, such as the standing of its people and companies in the world.
VANK seeks to establish the international images of Korea as “the center of Asia, the gateway to Northeast Asia, and a friend of the world.” We are promoting the theme of “Friendly Korea, a country of friends” to the 7 billion people of the world. What difference can we make with such effort?
The political and diplomatic brand of Korea will be enhanced. The more people in the world who perceive Korea as a trustworthy friend, the stronger position it will have in international diplomacy. When more foreigners understand our culture and history, it will be easier to promote our positions on issues to the international community. In turn, its strong diplomatic presence will lay a foundation for creating a mature political culture within the country.
With mature politics, Korea will gain more respect and be able to strengthen its economic brand. In a global economic environment with ever increasing uncertainty, trust is the first and most important value. When the image of Korea as a trustworthy friend spreads across the world, there will be a continuous increase in international investments, demands for Korean products, and the number of foreign tourists. Such positive changes will contribute to enhancing Korea’s national brand and ensuring sustainable economic development.
The social brand of Korea will also improve. During the 1988 Olympics and the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Koreans’ mature citizenship impressed the world. However, such events provide only temporary chances to connect with the world. The internet provides an opportunity for Koreans to communicate with people across the world all year round, build a global network of friends, and promote the Korean national brand. Additionally, Koreans will develop a better sense of global citizenship.
Such people-to-people communication will enhance Korea’s cultural brand. The Korean Wave (Hallyu in Korean) has sparked global interest in Korean culture. Korea has many fascinating cultural assets that range from food, music, and paintings, to various long-lasting traditions. If more foreigners start seeing Korea as ‘a friendly country, a country of friends,’ they will share their appreciation of Korean culture and eventually become international promoters of the Korean Wave. Subsequently, it will inspire more research of Korean culture, and contribute to its further development. The global network of friendship will grow the forest of hope that promotes the value of sharing and peace.
Our ultimate goal is to renew the Korean national brand in all the areas of politics, economy, society, and culture. VANK hopes to create a forest of hope where 70 million Koreans can come together and share their dreams and values with the 7 billion people of the world. When our goal is reached, the world will become a more peaceful place where there is companionship among countries.
In the beginning, VANK was like a tiny mustard seed that started with only a man’s passion for promoting Korea. The seed grew into a tree, the tree began spreading branches and leaves, and the tree eventually created a lush forest. As the forest grows bigger, it will bring more and more foreigners to Korea. That is the forest of hope that we desire.
To get to know more about VANK