National image of North Korea in South Korean news media

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
National image of North Korea in South Korean news media
Jinbong Choi
Department of Media and Communication,
Sungkonghoe University, Seoul, South Korea
Jinbong Choi, Professor, Sungkonghoe
University, Department of Media and
Communication, 320 YeondongRo, Kurogu,
Seoul, 152716, South Korea.
This study examines how 2 major South Korean newspapers (Chosun Ilbo and
Hankyoreh Sinmon) representspecifically through framingNorth Korea's national
image during the 2year period (from 2001 to 2002). To conduct this research, framing
analysis was used for analyzing media texts as a research method. According to find-
ings, although reporting North Korean issues, the South Korean newspapers consid-
ered the relationship with North Korea and the peace and reunification of the
Korean Peninsula. That is, although covering North Korean issues, South Korean news
media concern and reflect on their relations with the issues and political and cultural
structures of their society.
The national image of a country is identified by symbols and images. It
is created by many different kinds of short pieces of knowledge,
which are gained directly and indirectly over long periods of time
(Choi, 2010, p. 392). That is, a national image is not fixed but renewed
by different factors through the course of time. Thus, in this study,
national image is defined as created, gained, and changed directly
and indirectly over time through different factors created by people's
reaction to different elements associated with it, such as media repre-
sentation and international relationships(Choi, 2010, p. 392).
People usually react to the image of an object more often than
information and knowledge of the object. Marton and Boddewyn
(1978, p. 25) argue that people's actions are not only based on the
formed image about the world in their minds but also are determined
by the given image. As people usually understand an object through
images, they understand the image of a country through images as
well. Nowadays, the images of objects or country are created more
by indirect experiences (mainly by the media) than by direct experi-
ences with the real environment. In other words, people generally
shape images based on images given by the media.
According to McCombs (1994, p. 3), the most significant media
effect is to structure and organize our world for us.He continues
to argue that considerable evidence has accumulated that journalists
play a key role in shaping our pictures of the world as they go about
their daily task of selecting and reporting the news(McCombs,
1994, p. 3). Other communication scholars also argue that the media
formed or framed the image of objects or the reality in the socialworld.
For instance, Gitlin (1980) emphasizes that media frames organize the
world for both journalists and individuals (media consumers). Tuchman
(1978) also points out news frames impose order and coherence on
the social world.Consequently, for many individuals, the information
provided by the mass media is the only way to understand and see real
world issues.
North Korea, as an example, is one of the closed countries in the
world. Few people travel or visit North Korea. Thus, people usually rely
on official governmental announcements and news coverage for creat-
ing a national image of North Korea and understanding North Korea. In
this situation, depending on the images of North Korea framed by gov-
ernment and news media, people understand the national image of
North Korea (Choi, 2010). One of the appropriate examples can be
found in President Bush's rhetoric in the 2002 State of the Union
address. Through this speech, Bush designated North Korea as an axis
of evilcountry to justify his war on terror. Due to his indication, many
American people understand North Korea as a dangerous, radical, and
violent country. In framing and creating the national image of a coun-
try, media and government generally use special strategies (e.g., catch
phrases, pictures, special words, metaphors, etc.)(Choi, 2010, p.
392). Nowadays, the concept of media framing is becoming more and
more dominant in the body of literature addressing the news media's
techniques, their roles, and their effects in the society (Smith, 1997).
Thus, to investigate and understand media and speech texts, analyzing
these framing strategies is necessary.
Therefore, this study aims to examine new media coverage of
North Korea between 2001 and 2003, looking at the frames used by
two selected South Korean newspapers, Chosun Ilbo and Hankyoreh
Sinmon. On the basis of the purpose of this study, a series of research
questions have been formulated. The following research questions are
answered through framing analysis of the South Korean newspaper's
coverage about the national image of North Korea. The above brief
Received: 14 January 2018 Accepted: 26 February 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1710
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1710.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of7

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