Since 2009, South Korea (hereafter, Korea) has committed to its nation branding project more seriously than perhaps any other country. This research investigates how efforts to reconfigure Korea’s nation brand are received and interpreted by Korean citizens. Using the 2017 nation branding tourism campaign, ‘8 faces of Korea, 8 types of trip,’ this thesis shows how Korean citizens relate to this branded image and perform their own national affiliation in relation to it. Approaching national identity as a discursive formation (Calhoun, 1997), the empirical component of this thesis relied upon a mixed-methods approach to explore how conceptualizations of national identity are socially constructed and embedded within larger historical, political, and economic processes, and in particular, against the Korean state-led nation branding project. A visual content analysis was performed on the ‘8 faces of Korea’ campaign revealing four themes in the construction of the ‘real Korea’: cosmopolitanism, activeness, youthfulness, and history. Subsequently, discourse analysis was applied to in-depth interviews with 14 Korean citizens in order to uncover personal narratives in the interpretation of this campaign, but also in relation to what it means to be Korean in everyday life. The findings show that through this government-led attempt to position the Korean nation in a global context, the representation of Korea runs counter to everyday Korean life, thereby demonstrating how Korean nation branding has been fundamentally conceived for the tourist gaze and the global audience. Thus, the nation branding of Korea offers evidence of Korea’s realization of becoming a fully globalized, competitive, and capitalist nation state. Yet, despite being critical of how this campaign misrepresents Korea, Korean citizens have also bought into this perceived need for nation branding in the global marketplace of nations.

Additional Metadata
Keywords media, culture, society, Nation branding, nation-building, national identity, nationalism, South Korea
Thesis Advisor D. Dumitrica
Persistent URL
Series Media, Culture & Society
P. Jarmula. (2018, July 9). ‘Imagine Your Korea’ or Imaginary Korea? Negotiations of Korean Nation Brand and National Identity in Everyday Life. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from