Majesty is a synonym of dignity. And ‘Your Majesty,’ is a way to call for their royal highness. Royal highness, especially, royal family shows the nation’s dignity. Then, what could be a dignity in Korea, the democratic republic nation not monarchy?
Recently, the marketing strategy is increasing, connecting royalty with their goods to bring into relief top class image. Kim Nando, professor at Seoul National University, said, “The strategy is the way to use people’s fantasies concerning royalty.”1 In the past, as royal households were special existence inaccessible to ordinary people. Nowdays, their mysteriousness and gracefulness still appeal to the masses. Every monarchy appoints suppliers in every commodity because they want to raise their value and keep their nobleness. Recently, each brand raises their brand image to suggest that their goods are royal warranty commodities. This ‘royal warranty’ is a symbol of high class fine articles. That is, as royal family endeavor to exist as fine article as it is, the royal warranty can win public recognition as high class brand.
In addition, the present Cinderella stories in many royal households such as Denmark and Holland stimulate women’s fantasies even further. This fantasy about royalty was exposed in TV dramas or films. Like ‘Princess Diary’ or ‘Prince And Me,’ American famous movies, there are many Cinderella stories, which described love story between ordinary girl and royal family or even become royal member. This trend is not only in foreign films. Korean famous drama, Goong (the Palace), also described an ordinary girl’s wedding story with the Korean Crown Prince.
Today, about 30 nations have monarchies. Except for some nations in the Middle East, most of the monarchies choose constitutional monarchy. In constitutional monarchy, the King does not have virtual power, but exists as a symbol of the nation. The kings, symbols of the nations, play a role in unifying people.
In the case of Japan, Tenno, king of Japan, is the symbol of unity of the people, and this is specified in the Japanese constitution. Since Japan was defeated in World War II, the Japanese royal family has been reigning as the symbol of peace and democracy. According to survey of Asahi newspaper, over 87 percent of Japanese agree with Japanese monarchy.
In the case of England, Prince Harry, the 3rd successor of England, volunteered for military service to the desert in Afghanistan, the forefront. When England meets military emergencies, the British royal family always takes the lead to keep the safety of England. Queen Elizabeth II in World War II, when she was Princess, served as a driving soldier. Her son Charles, the Crown Prince in England,also served in the Royal Navy and the British Air Force.2
Kang Eunhyeon, a chief of law firm Sanha, saw this effect of monarchy in the newspaper Maeil Economy, “As we are getting more democratized, society is becoming pluralistic. At such a time, society needs a centripetal point, and monarchy also can give people pride in their national history.”
Since the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea was established in 1919, Shanghai, Korea has maintained a republican. That is, without a king, people build up their identity and participate in politics to vote for representatives and make government. However, there are traces of monarchy still in 2010, Korea.
Material of Monarchy
There are Korean Linguistic characters of Hangeul, which were designed and distributed by King Sejong for his people, and there are also structures like palaces or temples. Gwanghwamun square, which reopened last year, is a good example. Gwanghwamun square is not just the front gate of Gyeongbokgung, the main royal palace in the Joseon Dynasty which was the last united Korean sovereign state. The City of Seoul designed this place as a cultural space. To make people in this place relax and enjoy, Seoul used the front of the royal place with its history. The area displays a statue of King Sejong and his major inventions. And there are operateing Yeoksamulgil (Historic water way). The square offers chance to meet Korean royal history. These things also make people feel Korean identity which forms relationships and unity among the people.
Spirit of Monarchy
These remains are remaining as material of the royal family. However, royal spirit also hand down andget more flourish. SMU was founded in 1906 as the nation's first private women's university under the royal patronage. Following this tradition, SMU introduces Korean culture to other nations, and internally they practice educational programs not only for students at SMU, but for all people in Korea.
From 2009, SMU opened the Internet free education site SNOW (http://www.snow.or.kr). Through this site, SMU offers great scholars' lectures free to all people who can use the internet. Without any thought of profit, this site intends to offer good quality educational content to every domestic student just like King Sejong who designed and distributed Hangeul to educate people.
SMU also held culture exchange camp for Vietnamese Students and delivered Korean culture to the foreign students. The camp offered Korean culture experience programs such as cooking Korean food or playing Korean music.
An Minho, the Chief of the Korean Cultural Institute of SMU, said, “This camp is a part of plan to open positions to students of talent internationally. As SMU is establishing Sookmyung international campus in Vietnam, the camp helps to increase friendship with Vietnamese students. Before long, SMU has planned to increase this international exchange program for cultivating talented students from Vietnam to Africa. Similar cultural exchange programs will be increasing.”
1. Department of Internet News in SBS, Tremendous Popularity of Royal Marketing, SBS, 2008.06.11.
2. Jeong Hongjoon, Exemplary Deed of Leaders, Seoul Economy, 2010.02.15