Vol. 11, No. 1 (2015), 115–135
Despite the spectacular rise of South Korea’s economy, the West continues to perceive it as an underdeveloped nation. To ferret out the macrohistorical causes of this perception, we perform a content analysis of Korea-related articles since 1948 in two leading German news weeklies. We find that South Korea’s image has somewhat improved, transformed from that of the backward “Land of the Morning Calm” to that of a nation ranking among the most technologically advanced. However, certain images, such as “unstable,” “unsafe” and “corrupt” persist, despite the fact that economic and political conditions have dramatically improved. Our research tentatively suggests that a systematic, long-term bias against South Korea in German print media accounts in part for its negative image there. However, the fact that this bias has recently abated suggests that those media will eventually produce a credible portrait of this far-away country.
Tim Yung Min Schröter completed his doctoral course work in East Asian Studies at Sungkyunkwan University, South Korea and holds a German BA and MA in one (“Magister”) in East Asian Studies from the University of Trier, Germany. He has a particular interest in media analysis and nation branding campaigns with a focus on East Asia and South Korea. He currently serves as a research assistant to the corresponding author of the article “Understanding South Korea’s Poor Nation Brand Image: A Content Analysis of Two Leading German Print News Media, 1948–2013″ as a young researcher in the Brain Korea 21st Century Plus (“BK+”) Program of the Ministry of Education and Human Resources Development of the Republic of Korea. He previously published on media images and portrayals of the Korean diaspora in Germany in the Korean-German Social Sciences Journal (Handok Sahoegwahak Nonchong).
Daniel Jong Schwekendiek, corresponding author of the article “Understanding South Korea’s Poor Nation Brand Image: A Content Analysis of Two Leading German Print News Media, 1948–2013, is an Assistant Professor of Korean Economy and Society at Sungkyunkwan University—Korea’s former royal higher-education institute and now a private university supported by the Samsung Foundation. His recent books include A Socioeconomic History of North Korea (2011), Korean Migration to the Wealthy West (2012) and The Data Atlas of South Korea: Demography, Society, Economic Activity (2014). He holds a German BA and MA in one (“Diplom”) and PhD in economics from the University of Tuebingen, where he specialised in the socio-economic and bio-demographic histories of the two Koreas. He previously held research appointments at the University of Oxford, Seoul National University and the University of California at Berkeley. Taking a particular interest in quantitative data and social science history, he specialised in survey analysis, census analysis and content analysis in Korean studies. His articles have appeared in journals such as the Korea Journal, Korea Yearbook, Economic History Review, Population and Development Review, and Social Science and Medicine, among others.