Media, culture, and the transformation of the protracted inter-Korean conflict

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Robert A. Rubinstein


Media, Culture, Inter-Korean conflict, Korea

Subject Categories

Asian Studies | International Relations | Journalism Studies | Sociology of Culture


The author's concern in this study is to examine the consolidation and transformation process of the protracted inter-Korean conflict by uncovering the symbolic construction of the conflict and the fierce battle between conflicting symbols and frames in the South Korean mass media. Before proceeding to analyze the transformation process in the post-Cold War period, this dissertation deals with the social construction of the inter-Korean conflict during the Cold War, especially in the late 1980s, the period just prior to the beginning of the post-Cold War era. Thus the dissertation first examines the South Korean media's coverage on the Kumkangsan Dam controversy in the late 1980s, by looking at what kind of symbols contributed to the social construction of the conflictual issue and how they were produced and worked.

The main part of this dissertation explores the transformation process of the inter-Korean conflict in the post-Cold War period and focuses upon the symbols and frames surrounding two non-governmental and two inter-governmental issues in the transformation process: Daewoo's economic cooperation project in 1996 and Hyndai's project in 1998; Summit meeting in 1994 and in 2000. Thus this study looks at how the inter-Korean conflict was socially constructed through enemy symbols and how it has been gradually transformed through symbolic battle and frame dispute in the post-Cold War period. It is based on the social constructionist view of conflict that social conflict emerges and develops on the basis of the meanings and interpretations people attach to events. My purpose in this study has been to speak of the necessity of the identity-oriented strategies for conflict transformation by exploring the identity-relatedness of the protracted inter-Korean conflict.


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