Place-branding and (constructed) intangible heritage: the manufacture of ostensible and virtual Korean micronations in Naminara and Hotel Del Luna

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Abstract

Most micronations located in South Korea have only a virtual existence and little, if any, public recognition. The exception is Nami Island, which branded itself as the Naminara Republic in 2006, and is a popular and financially successful tourist resort. This article considers aspects of place-branding applied to Nami Island and draws comparisons with the eponymous setting of the acclaimed television series Hotel Del Luna (2018). The physical island and the virtual hotel share many components of a micronation schema, although the hotel is not a self-declared micronation. Both are embedded within, but culturally separate from, the surrounding state. Each has evolved an origin myth and a sustaining mythic narrative developed from contemporary Korean media-lore: Nami Island markets itself as a fairy tale space and exploits images from the popular TV drama Winter Sonata, which lures many of its visitors, while Hotel Del Luna draws upon and adds to media-lore about ghosts and the supernatural. Commercial enterprises which playfully assert their cultural separation from South Korea, these micronations self-consciously model a utopianism markedly absent in the country which surrounds them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104-117
Number of pages14
JournalTransformations
Issue number35
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Keywords

  • micronation schema
  • media-lore
  • origin myth
  • ghost-lore
  • fictive reality
  • Winter Sonata

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