In December 2001, the Kim Dae Jung (Kim Taejung) administration promoted “Dynamic Korea” as a national slogan for South Korea. Carefully vetted prior to the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the Dynamic Korea slogan was selected because it best captured the spirit of a modern, industrialized South Korea while concomitantly challenging former representations of South Korea as passive and isolationist. When the idea of the “nation brand” came into vogue, the national slogan was easily incorporated into South Korea’s nation branding campaign in the mid-2000s. Several years later, however, the Dynamic Korea brand was effectively abandoned by the Lee Myung-bak (Yi Myŏngbak) administration. Concerns were raised over the possible negative associations of the word “dynamic.” This article argues that the promotion and subsequent demise of the Dynamic Korea slogan were linked not only to the semantic ambiguity over the term “dynamic” but also to powerful sonic registers. Building on my prior research conducted on the cultural politics of Korean percussion genres, I suggest the ways in which sonic historiographies can force reappraisals of topics seemingly unrelated to music—a country’s nation branding campaign.


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pp. 113-147
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