Last August, creators who run social media channels got together and launched the Global Influencers Network (GIN), which pursues healthy ecosystems for content creation at home and abroad. GIN representative Hugh Gwon Sun-hong says that it is imperative to strengthen influencers’ social responsibility and expand their positive influences now, as the power of social media rises to new heights amid the expansion of a contactless culture.
Announcement of “2020 Influencer of the Year” selected by influencers
Vigorous cooperation with the public sector, including online publicity of the GTI Expo
Protection of self-employed creators and promotion of their sense of social responsibility
Influencers expected to foster international exchange and cultural diversity
Thank you for accepting our interview request. Would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers and tell us how you came to launch the Global Influencers Network (GIN)?
Glad to see you, too. I am a GIN representative and a YouTuber who operates the channel MKH. I also provide YouTube-related education and lectures through my participation in the Korea Association for Supporting Youth from Multicultural Families, the UN Habitat Korea Committee, and the Center for Digital Literacy. MKH is a channel that shows the life of a Korean husband, an Australian wife, and their son. I started the channel in 2013 with my wife to change the stereotypical notion of families formed through international marriages, and I have felt many things over the years I have run the channel. Most of all, I have keenly felt the need to develop the ability to communicate with platform operators and to construct a network of influencers to that end. The GIN was organized with the aim of finding new visions and models of activities for influencers while enhancing their social responsibility.
Would you tell us about how many people from how many countries there are in the GIN and what are the ways in which they join the network?
As of the beginning of January 2021, we have 570 members from over 60 countries, and around 80 percent of them are non-Koreans. As English is the language used by the largest portion of members, communication within the network is conducted in English. Most newcomers join the network by way of being recommended or introduced by existing members, and a few join by directly inquiring the GIN.
Could you elaborate on what activities you plan to carry out?
First of all, we plan to bring up and support influencers. We want to help influencers who have good content by publicizing them and increasing their profits. Recently, the GIN encouraged non-Korean influencers to join the organization through its “Doing Hanbok” campaign. Viewers’ responses were positive and the participating influencers indicated great satisfaction. We are in the process of jointly developing a project called “K-brand,” through which influencers will promote excellent Korean products or Korean institutions’ campaigns. We will support the digitalized business of influencers in a new and more creative way. We would like to not only help enhance influencers’ personal profits but also contribute to expediting exchange between Korea and the rest of the world and boosting cultural diversity.
What do you mean by influencers’ social responsibility?
Influencers are people who pursue originality over popularity. It feels good when you earn popularity as a creator, but, as an influencer, you have to realize your influence, feel a sense of responsibility, and have a mission. You need to understand such universal values as human rights, democracy, and peaceful coexistence. You should share diverse cultures and contribute to common growth on the basis of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect for different cultures. On the other hand, it is important that one’s subscribers equip themselves with the ability to interpret information based on their own values and principles, for there are many people who lure viewers with distorted information. The GIN will raise awareness about the social responsibility of both influencers and subscribers as broadly as possible.
The GIN regularly announces “Influencer of the Month” award winners chosen by influencers. At the end of last year, “Influencer of the Year” award winners were also selected and honored. Many of the award winners seem to be devoted to promoting Korea abroad. Do you have special criteria for selecting award winners? Are there any influencers you want to introduce to people interested in public diplomacy?
We set up an influencer selection committee to evaluate the candidates’ credentials, looking into their professional expertise, public interest, economic effect, creativity of content, and uniqueness. Among the influencers, I would like to introduce Kimmiso, one of the “2020 Influencer of the Year” award winners. A Moroccan YouTuber with versatile talents, Kim is very enthusiastic about sharing Korean culture with the world. Jennythelive is the channel of Jenny Lee Won-gyeong who teaches Korean via Facebook and YouTube. I would also like to recommend Woolara Company, which shows the lives of international couples. The channel is quite popular among subscribers in Brazil and Portugal, and in English-speaking countries.
The GIN influencers garnered success by undertaking online publicity of such events as the GTI Expo and the Green New Deal Expo last year. Please tell us about your impressions of working with the public sector. If you have any suggestions for the Korea Foundation, please don’t hesitate to share them.
When influencers work with the public sector, many of them feel a rewarding sense of satisfaction about working for their country, society, and community. That is why they always say they seek to achieve a “positive influence.” I think we can do such meaningful work with the KF, too. It would be interesting to produce a program that enables influencers from foreign countries that participate in exchanges with Korea to introduce how they live and what cultural experiences they have in Korea. The GIN influencers play the role of private diplomatic corps promoting Korea to the world via YouTube and other social networks. If they work with the KF, they could meet the global audience with higher quality content, and the KF’s efforts to foster cultural cooperation with other countries and publicize Korea overseas in turn could come to greater fruition.