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‘Nice Korea, Naughty Korea’ : media framings of North Korea and the inter-Korean relationship in the London 2012 Olympic Games Yoon, Liv Gi-He


In this study, I analyze mainstream news-media framings of North Korea and the inter-Korean relationship in the London 2012 Olympic Games. I explore the role that media plays in promoting particular understandings of North and South Korean nations and relationships. My research was guided by the following questions: 1) How did mainstream news-media in South Korea and other national contexts frame the relationship between North Korea and South Korea in the London 2012 Games?; 2) How was North Korea’s involvement in the Games understood and portrayed within different news-media?; 3) To what extent were themes pertaining to the unity of and/or divisions between North and South Korea evident in the coverage?; 4) What differences were there, if any, between the South Korean coverage of these topics and other international news-media coverage?; and 5) What might these differences imply about subjectivity in decision-making processes in mainstream news-media, and/or about how journalists might be implicated in the promotion of stereotypes and/or xenophobia? This study draws on existing research on news-media coverage of conflict, sport, and nationalism with particular attention to the interrelated concepts of ideology, hegemony, and Orientalism (Said, 2003). Live-televised commentary and newspaper articles from South Korea and other English-speaking nations were collected and analyzed using Fairclough’s (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis to examine how language operates in framing events and topics in a manner that may make some points or perspectives more visible than others. The results illustrate that South Korean and international media covered North Korea’s involvement and the inter-Korean relationship during the Games differently. Namely, international media representations of North Korean performance were at times derogatory or dismissive, and included more discussions of the North Korean government and its associated conflicts and issues (as compared to South Korean coverage). As well, emphasis on division was found more often in international coverage when covering the inter-Korean relationship. The study concluded with commentary on the potential role of sport media producers in peace promotion and in the perpetuation of cultural violence, the potential impacts of the studied portrayals on audiences, and possibilities for developing more critically-informed approaches to creating media messages.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada