The YouTubers spreading peace between North/South Korea, and across the Middle East
It's the softest of soft power (meaning there's often cuddly toys in the background). But the informality of YouTubers is proving to be effective in reducing tensions and increasing harmony in the edgier and more polarised parts of the world.
Take Ttohyang - a defector from North Korea who's become a social media star in Seoul. From BBC: "She fled her home country as a child and now thousands of people online watch her talk about her experiences in the north and the south. Said Ttohyang: 'The most fundamental thing about my work is to make South Koreans realise the north and south are one people.'"
Her YouTube channel is here, and most of her videos have translated subtitles available (if you click on that option).
Picked up on Forbes magazine (webpage and PDF), Haifa Beseisso is a young digital media graduate, living in Dubai but also with a Palestinian passport, who uses travel journalism to demonstrate emotional connections between different religions, languages and customs in the region. (Here's her YouTube channel, Fly With Haifa (Travel, Dreams, Culture)).
In the video above, Haifa cheekily responds to her extended family's requests to be lined up with a suitable husband, by donning her white wedding dress, and handing out cards declaring that she's "married to life".
As the Forbes article notes, she's making money through associations with brands like Canon, Dove, Lipton and Pandora. And there's no doubt her exuberant and sweet personality could easily be put to the service of a marketing strategy. But it's fascinating to see how social media can open out zones of self-expression in the tightest of situations.