Nation Branding in North Korea

Nation branding is often equated with states’ advertising campaigns to draw tourism, investment, and goodwill. But Seoul National University’s E.J.R. Cho argues that it can also work to project security and strength as part of a strategic narrative. Her article, “Nation Branding for Survival in North Korea: The Arirang Festival and Nuclear Weapons Tests,” looks outside the typical liberal capitalist examples of nation branding to focus on the North Korean case.

Cho introduces Clifford Geertz’s anthropological concept of the “theatre state” through examples of national spectacles, such as military parades, missile testing, and the Arirang Gymnastics Festival. These staged events are part of North Korean communications abroad, “deliberately seeking more respect from others,” building the national brand, and competing with its neighbors. In this way, Cho argues, nation branding is neither new, nor solely a tool of liberal capitalist countries.

The full article is available here.

Photo by Stephen I CC 2.0

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