Going International

There’s this Latin saying that I’ve heard a couple times in my life: Si fueris Romae, Romano vivito more. It roughly translates to, “When in Rome, live like a Roman.”

Although I assume this advice was made to inform people on what lifestyle they should adapt when they visit other countries, I’m sure that international businesses follow this saying to find success in their international endeavors.

It, however, works very much with PR as well. This is a pretty well-known fact, I know. But I’ll just give my perspective on it anyways.

Being a Korean-American, I can most closely compare the Korean culture against the American one. In so many ways, the culture is different (obviously), but I found it to be more so in the entertainment world. 

By all means, disagree if you’d like, but Korea can easily be considered to be much more superficial.You can, then, imagine how different celebrity life might be.

I was watching a show called Strong Heart, which is a Korean talk show dedicated to celebrities who go on air to share stories about their lives. The goal of the show is to find the “strongest heart” who shares the deepest story. In the episode I was watching, a singer, who was famous around the time my mother was in her early twenties, came on the show to share her story. Apparently, when she was young, her family moved to America to find a better life. In contrast to their expectations, however, they found equal, if not worse, poverty in Brooklyn, NY. By fate, she met a Korean producer on the streets who offered to sign her if she ever went back to Korea. In her desperate attempt to change her life around, she went back to Korea some years later with no money, no set place to live, and no other hopes than to meet that producer again. Eventually, she did.

The agency she signed to built her image on luxury, and high-class living. She was made the diva of her generation, and everyone believed it. 

Twenty years later, she broke apart that image on Strong Heart and finally explained to the world exactly who she was and the background she came from.

I remember my mother’s reaction and was interested at how shocked she was. 

In almost every PR class I’ve taken, the importance of transparency was always emphasized. And, if the entertainment world of Korea builds only what sells, I’d imagine the business world there wouldn’t be much different. 

So, which one do you follow? Do you still live like a Roman in a Rome that doesn’t practice or believe in the importance of transparency? Or just assume that there are exceptions to everything?


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