09.03.2005 Diaspora News

Ghanaian Embassy in Seoul fails to update website

By Korea Times - [email protected]
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The Ghanaian Embassy in Seoul launched its Web site in November 2002, but stopped posting articles about Ghana in September 2003. Over 500 people have viewed the last news article so far.... read the full article Embassies Lack Online Services
When Brian Kim, 28, wanted to know about upcoming events related to Denmark before visiting the European country, he was at first happy to find the Web site of the Danish Embassy in Seoul.
However, the Web site disappointed Kim for two reasons.
First, there was no Korean language service. Second, and perhaps more importantly, it indicated ``World of Original Drawings for Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tales,'' which took place in October 2003, as the next upcoming event.
If Kim had looked at the Web sites of all foreign embassies in Seoul, his disappointment may have been eased by the discovery that many other embassies have not updated their online contents for some years.
The Ghanaian Embassy in Seoul, for example, launched its Web site in November 2002, but stopped posting articles about Ghana in September 2003. Over 500 people have viewed the last news article so far.
In addition, about 44 percent or 39 out of the 88 foreign embassies in Seoul do not have Web sites.
``Given that Koreans are well known for their preference for the Internet when they need to find information, the 39 embassies that do not provide online contents through Web sites are not functioning properly in the eyes of Koreans,'' said Lee In-gyu, chief programmer at Naver, one of the nation's biggest online portal sites.
Government agencies and state-run bodies as well as private organizations maintain their Web sites with the latest contents to meet the needs of the public, Lee stressed.
``The absence or deactivation of a Web site of any organization means negligence to me,'' he added.
Experts indicate that the Web sites of embassies play an important role for both their nationals living abroad and local people.
Foreigners here depend on the embassies for certain services and information, particularly in emergencies, while Koreans interested in business opportunities or emigration will first turn to the foreign embassies.
The embassies without Web sites are, alphabetically, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Belarus, Brazil, Brunei Darussalam, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Colombia, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Gabon, Guatemala, Holy See, Honduras, Hungary, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Myanmar, Oman, Panama, the Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Serbia-Montenegro, Slovakia, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.
But a few embassies provide exemplary examples on how foreign diplomatic missions can run a Web site in South Korea.
The U.S. Embassy has the most outstanding site in terms of the latest news and efforts to exchange opinions with locals.
Soon after arriving in Seoul, U.S. Ambassador to Seoul Christopher Hill launched ``Cafe USA'' on the popular local portal, Daum in November 2004. Since then, he has regularly shared his ideas on the bulletin board as promised.
``I didn't expect the U.S. ambassador to answer our questions, but he really did,'' one regular visitor to the site said. ``The embassy also held various events through Cafe USA, including inviting members to the embassy.''
The number of Cafe USA's members had surpassed 6,700 as of yesterday.
The Canadian Embassy also launched an online community on Daum last November, on which the ambassador has his own board for posting messages, but currently there are no messages on it.

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