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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Henry Geddes

Second Advisor

Briankle Chang

Third Advisor

Jina E. Kim

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | Critical and Cultural Studies | International and Intercultural Communication | Journalism Studies | Public Relations and Advertising | Social Influence and Political Communication


The dissertation focused on how the discourses and institutions of nation branding and public diplomacy reshaped the social imaginary of the nation. Following the trajectory of the nation branding discourse in South Korea in the first fifteen years of the 21st century, I examined different moments of the re-imagining of the nation by multiple agents with regard to nation branding and public diplomacy. Firstly, I examined how the news media played a crucial mediating role in importing and disseminating the globally emerging discourse of nation branding in collaboration with private and public think tanks in the early and mid 2000s. Secondly, I examined how the South Korean government instituted the media-promoted public agenda of nation branding as a highly visible official public policy by setting up the Presidential Council for Nation Branding in 2009. Lastly, I examined how the promotion of nation branding by the media and government opened up a discursive space for publics to re-imagine the nation. I focused on the public diplomacy efforts by non-state agencies and their critiques from the online subculture and the media and publicity experts. To complete this research, I collected and analyzed data from news media reports, policy-related documents by governmental agencies, and internet blogs, online forums, and OP/ED columns. I adopted the political economy perspective to analyze the economic and political interests embedded in the discursive rise of nation branding; the narrative analysis of the news media discourse on the development of South Korea; the political-economy and image analysis of the public service advertisement for nation branding; and the discursive analysis of the public controversies on online forums and news media over the “promotion of Korea” campaign led by the non-state agency. I discovered that the discursive practices of nation branding and public diplomacy conducted by different agencies converged into the idea of “national prestige” and the post-developmental reimagining of the advanced nation in terms of culture and civility. However, the different agencies reimagined the advanced nation in varied ways: in the news media discourse, it was imagined as a business-friendly and “lawful and orderly” nation; in the public policy discourse, it was imagined as a neoliberal “brand nation,”; in the online subculture discourse, it was imagined negatively as an opposite of the current status; and in the experts’ discourse, it was imagined as a culturally sophisticated, globally accepted nation. The contribution of my research encompasses multiple academic fields: critical cultural studies, neoliberalism, and Korean studies. My research confirmed the critical examination of nation branding and public diplomacy as neoliberal discursive practices, but it extended it by situating those practices in the developmental context of the state- and economy-centered, and West-oriented imaginary of the nation in South Korea.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License