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International sporting events, nationalism and sport diplomacy

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posted on 24.06.2013, 10:50 by Hyunjoo Cho
Scholarship concerning relations between North and South Korea has focused on the political and economic areas of relations between the two Koreas, and the unification issue has been mainly considered a work of government conducted in the formal political domain. However, this thesis examines the Olympics and international sporting events as major sources and vehicles of discourse reflecting but also shaping relations between North and South Korea. The thesis, adopting a Critical Realist ontology, applies a constructivist theory of International Relations to establish how the framework of North and South Korean sports relations contributes to, and at times drive, political relations. The study adopts Critical Discourse Analysis as method, and the analysis protocols employed were established by adapting frames of reference from the work of Fairclough (2005) and Jäger and Meyer (2009). In terms of the sources employed the North Korean newspaper Roh-Dong, which is subject to state control we take to represent the view of the North Korean regime. This was selected as a resource to illustrate how the North Korean government sought to construct a particular discourse concerning national identity, political position and sport. South Korean newspapers Dong-A and Hankyoreh were chosen to identify two relatively different (relatively right and left in Korean terms) political views evident in the South Korean context and their constructions around these issues. In addition, the summaries of North and South Sports Talks published by the South Korean government provide a source of data reflecting South Korean governmental interests. From 1978 to 2007, the changes in the international context from Cold War to post-Cold War and the domestic political changes in particular in South Korea, framed each decade s North and South Korean sports relations. The shared notion of national identity and of nationhood, reflected in the primordial nationalism evident in both North and South Koreans view of themselves (and of one another) as drawn from the same bio-cultural stock, is a factors shaping the actions of governments and other stakeholders. This ideology of shared heritage goes some way to explain why despite regularly occurring political tensions, there was a recurring appeal to common identity which manifest itself in sporting activity in for example the consideration of building unified teams in major competitions, or marching together at Olympic opening ceremonies. Thus the role of sport in developing relations between North and South Korea is one which is more than simply a reflection of the state of diplomatic relations, but is actually a significant shaper of such relations. Sport diplomacy, though a form of soft diplomacy, is in this case a key factor to be incorporated with the explanation of developing political relations.



  • Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences


© Hyunjoo Cho

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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