Chapter 4: The Korea Brand: The Cultural Dimension of South Korea’s Branding Project in 2008, by Li-Chih Cheng

Li-Chih analyzes South Korea’s efforts to improve its image and reputation to international audiences. Surprised at Korea’s low rankings in the Anholt-Gfk Roper Nation Brand Index, President Lee Myung-bak vowed in 2008 to place greater emphasis and resources into the shaping and managing of South Korea’s brand and increasing Korea’s soft power. In Li-Chih’s examination, she evaluates the effectiveness of past nation branding and cultural diplomacy policies and campaigns. Her evaluation of the “Dynamic Korea” campaign designed around World Cup 2002 which evoked positive images in Asia but not in the West, as well as the success of the cultural phenomenon of hallyu (the Korean Wave) in Asia but not the West, reveals the need for country and/or region-specific branding efforts.

Li-Chih also examines the role of cultural diplomacy as a critical tool to increasing South Korea’s soft power. Her analysis includes an evaluation of the three pillars of the Lee administration’s cultural diplomacy policy: the formulation of long term programs, the stimulation of the culture industry, and the creation of a second wave of hallyu. Li-chih argues that although the new government is filled with ambition, Korea’s nation branding and cultural diplomacy policies are very much still in an infant stage and that increased emphasis on actively managing Korea’s brand will only be effective if backed by first-class cultural contents and well-coordinated government policies.