Pandemics and citizen perceptions about their country: Did COVID-19 increase national pride in South Korea?

Sijeong Lim, Aseem Prakash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


Exogenous shocks such as pandemics have a profound influence on how citizens think about their country. We explore how the successful handling of COVID-19 shaped South Korean citizens' perception of their country. Empirically, we compare data from surveys conducted in August 2019 and April 2020. Using regression on matched samples, we find a significant increase in general national pride. More importantly, we find an increase in positive assessments of their country in domains directly related to the COVID-19 response (civic awareness and international leadership) but not in domains less directly related to the pandemic. We also find that while Koreans take pride in their collective response to the crisis, their disenchantment with the political class has grown. The implication is that citizens offer a remarkably nuanced understanding of how the COVID-19 response reflected the strengths of the Korean society, as opposed to the Korean political system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-637
Number of pages15
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jul

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank Brent J Steele for his valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Association for the Study of Ethnicity and Nationalism and John Wiley & Sons Ltd


  • South Korea
  • civic awareness
  • international leadership
  • national pride
  • pandemics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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