Oct. 24 (UPI) -- South Korea ranked among the top 20 countries in a global ranking of "soft power" compiled annually by a communications consultancy in Britain.
South Korea, along with Japan, were the two Asian countries that were included among the top 20, Yonhap reported Thursday.
Jonathan McClory, author of "Soft Power 30" and general manager for Asia at London-based Portland Communications, said South Korea moved up one position to rank 19th, during his presentation at Seoul's Dongdaemun Design Plaza.
Portland Communications worked with the University of Southern California's Center on Public Diplomacy, and Facebook, to create the rankings of 30 countries rated as leaders in soft power, defined by a nation's culture, political values and foreign policies.
Countries were rated across six sub-indexes, including governance, foreign relations, education, enterprise, digital and culture.
The categories mostly determine the ranking, or 65 percent, while surveys of 12,500 people in 25 countries about their views of each country compose the remaining 35 percent.
South Korea's education sub-index rose to 12th place, up from 15th in 2018, based on the expansion of the state's education budget and increased enrollment of international students.
On Thursday, McClory said South Korea's continued investment in education and digital infrastructure, as well as the rise of K-pop around the world, will improve the country's soft power.
Japan, Asia's second-largest economy, ranked eighth, after ranking No. 5 last year. Trade tensions with South Korea factored into the lowered ranking, according to Yonhap.
The United States, which ranked No. 1 as recently as 2016, fell to No. 5 in 2019. The United States has declined every year since 2016, according to the report.
The list is also drawing attention in Singapore, which ranked 21st. The Straits Times reported Thursday the ranking showed Singapore could improve on its global brand beyond its business-friendly environment.