Friday, 17 February 2012

Nation branding

I have already mentioned about Korean Nation Branding efforts and how they impress me. In more developed countries than Korea comprehensive nation advertising and public diplomacy took much longer time or is not that well organized.
This entry of the blog has been featured on Arirang TV in Today's Blog programm, Trend Zone.
Coastal Asia Unrevealed on Arirang TV
Please watch in Internet Explorer like all Korean sites. Forgive me my voice, it is not really top voice ever.

Part of it is Korean Wave which currently hits Japan, China and other Asian countries. Korean boysbands and girlsbands, so called K-pop music to which you may find links in the video corner is just an example. Korean dramas with Winter Sonata leading among them, singer BoA and many others.

This year Seoul was choosen as one of the must-visit cities by UNESCO as a result of long term action of the Metropolitan Government. Maybe it was this little creature, Haechi, which was designed as a Seoul brand based on a fictional good spirit, symbol of the city, which caused it? Who knows...

Whether Haechi himself had blessed the city with good spirits or not, he definately works as a brand developed back in 2008. Metropolitan government uses it as a symbol which helps promoting good businesses for tourists.

I was taken for a dessert to one of the restaurants in a Korean traditional house situated in a White Collar area, next to the COEX Intercontinental, the very site were G20 was held. The restaurant which name is Pulhyanggi serves all sorts of Korean food for very sophisticated set of clients who usually go there for business negotiations and incentives.

 Inside the Pulhyanggi...

Btw. did I mention that my favorite Korean food is a pancake with seafood which is called haemul pajeon and I can even make it myself?

And this is how restaurants are promoted with the city brand sign:
The Haechi drawing is based on the ancient creature I have already mentioned, which looks like this:
And Seoul area is full of them standing in all sorts of places, both very modern and traditional ones.

As a city Seoul tries to catch up with modernity but also save what is the best from it's ancient spirits. For this all sorts of different things are done, one of them is Cheonggye Stream near Gwanhamun Plaza, or Design Street near Toksugung Palace. There we may find interesting things like design chairs or sculptures as below:
All fitted in traditional historic environment.

Haechi is successful in promoting business as well. An idea which had not been followed by other cities so far as I know. As a brand Hi Seoul is shared by all sorts of small companies which are given support by Seoul Metropolitan Government. The partnership is perfect for both sides: the city promotes itself even better and business gets money and stable environment to grow.
Above is one of the example of the shared brand products. We visited the exhibition with the TV crew from Arirang and were given a gift set with very useful and very nice items including a pen with a flashlight which I use a lot right now.

Haechi itself is a legendary animal representing justice and integrity. The mythical creature distinguishes good from evil and was believed to bring fortune and luck and provide safety from disaster. The creature has been believed to serve as a guardian of Seoul for a long time.

At Gwanhamun Plaza the souvenir shop opened and the top sells are Haechi dolls in all sizes. I got myself the small one... maybe it will bring me the luck?

Just as I shared with viewers of Arirang I will repeat here. Despite constant threat from the North Seoul flourishes. Korea flourishes. South Koreans take steps foreward, round the clock, like a circle in a spiral... strive and persist.

Special thanks to Yoon-mi Jung and her crew who assisted me for more than 6 hrs on a freezing Friday in Seoul driving me around the city wherever I wanted. Thank you for your hospitality and patience. I love Korea! Although it was pictured more than a year ago I still remember the day and am very happy it happened :)

Links to explore:


  1. Korean conglomerates are making immense contributions to Korea nation branding. Samsung, Hyundai, LG are identified as Korea by many people.

    The asset of Samsung Group in 2010 was 343.7 billion dollar.

    Samsung Group asset $343.7 billion in 2010
    Thailand GDP $318.9 billion in 2010
    Greece GDP $305.4 billion
    Denmark GDP $309.87 billion
    Hong Kong GDP $224.5 billion
    Singapore GDP $222.7 billion
    Finland GDP $239.2 billion
    Israel GDP $217.5 billion
    Hungary GDP $130.4 billion
    Vietnam GDP $103.6 billion

    One Samsung Group asset was 3.3 times bigger than GDP of Vietnam with 90.5 million population.

  2. I agree, I see adverts everywhere. Official sponsor of EU CUP 2012 etc etc etc. However only recent several years shown increased awareness that these are indeed Korean companies. My Korean friends did not believe me that I actually know Samsung or Hyundai are Korean, cause they used to hear people think that those are Japanese.

    Recently though all these long term efforts are more and more successful :)


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