The festive mass rally that took place in South Korea during the 2002 World Cup was more than a sporting event. As a way of understanding the national frenzy and people’s experiences during the World Cup, we interpret the mass festive rally as a form of social performance. In doing so, we portray this sporting event as a national stage, with Korean supporters as performers and the worldwide audience as spectators. This study uses the term “nation-ness” to encapsulate the idea of nation that links such disparate phenomena as nation, nationalism, and nationality. Through the examination of various performances within the rally, as well as of various reactions by the governmental, corporate, and public, it reveals that the spectacle contained three dimensions of performance: evolving processes, a betwixt-and-between, and everyday life. Attention to the performative aspects of the event contributes to illuminating this phenomenon as a set of evolving processes that are closely tied to contemporary South Korean society. Through analyzing South Koreans’ performance in the World Cup, we suggest that nation-ness was performed as cultural practices that were utilized for individual revelation, and as expressions of nationalism interwoven with globalism.
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