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  • Japanese animation as a socio-political tool of Japanese Soft Power in East Asia: the case of South Korea, 1960s - 2010s

Student
Title
Supervisor
Faculty
Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Karolina Czaczueva
Japanese animation as a socio-political tool of Japanese Soft Power in East Asia: the case of South Korea, 1960s - 2010s
School of Asian Studies
Master’s programme
2014
The topic of the present research paper is “Japanese animation as a socio-political tool o Japanese Soft Power in East Asia: the case of South Korea, 1960s - 2010s”.The object of the present study is the concept of soft power in general, including its main sources and core elements. The subject of the research can be defined as follows: Japanese animation as a tool of Japanese Soft Power in case of South Korea and its socio-cultural contribution to the formation of the Japan’s image in South Korea, and to the improvement of the South Korean attitude towards Japan.The main hypothesis of the research is as follows: Japanese animation as a representative Japanese visual art form and a channel of popular culture influence, represents a powerful tool of Japanese soft power that has made a considerable contribution in promoting positive attitude towards Japan in South Korea by shaping the perception of Japan among Korean youth during the last several decades (1960s-2010s).Chronological framework of the research is settled from the 1960s, when anime first appeared in South Korea, to the present times (the 2010s), in order to track the development of anime and its changing influence on the Korean society. However, the whole 20th century is considered in the historical part of the research related to the relations between japan and South Korea.The purpose of the research is to examine cultural and socio-political influence of anime phenomenon in South Korea as a tool Japanese Soft Power. The main tasks of the research are:· to examine the emergence and development of the soft power concept within the framework of the major IR theories, in particular, neoliberalism and constructivism;· to investigate the features of Japanese soft power, its limits and potential;· to analyze the strategy of Cool Japan public diplomacy as a part of Japanese soft power;· to examine the main features of the Japanese animation and its role as an element of Japanese Soft Power;· to analyze the relationships between Japan and South Korea, as well as the factors framing socio-cultural attitudes of the two nations towards each other;· to examine the role of anime as a tool of the Japan’s soft power in South Korea and define its contribution to the shaping of the attitude of the Koreans towards Japan.There are several methods that have been used in the process of the research in order to accomplish the tasks, such as the methods of narration and critical analysis, comparative analysis, method of deductionб methods of case study, periodization and system analysis.Since the study involves the concepts of the international relations theory, such as soft power, public diplomacy, public opinion and socio-political attitudes, the theories of neoliberalism and constructivism were used as the basis for the theoretical framework of the research. In addition, some elements of cultural studies were also introduced in the research, in particular, the approach of the geography of culture, involving places, spaces and communities that affect and shape culture transformation and development.The main body of the work is divided into three major parts. The first chapter analyzes the idea of soft power within the constructivism vision and the implementation of the concept in the case of Japan. In the second chapter a special emphasis is given to the notion of public diplomacy as one of the core soft power elements, as well as to the role of Japanese animation in promoting national soft power abroad. The last chapter provides historical framework of the relations between Japan and South Korea and examines the role of anime in shaping the attitudes towards Japan in South Korea. The final part of the paper is devoted to the main findings and outcomes of the research considering the set goal and the hypothesis of the study.The main findings of the research are as follows. At the end of the 20th century constructivism interpretation of the soft power concept gained broad attention of the academic and political circles, and consequently such notions as perceptions, attitudes, interpretation of history and cultural values, as well as public opinion, were put into the core of the soft power influence framework.With the growing popularity of the soft power concept, especially in East Asia, Japan has developed its own soft power strategy based on public diplomacy and popular culture under the title of “Cool Japan”, which since the early 2000s has become the major line of official foreign socio-cultural policies of Japan. Among other tools of the new public diplomacy strategy, Japanese animation, which previously was an unofficial tool of cultural influence of Japan, has become one of the most prominent and influential elements of the Japan’s soft power policies.Anime, before it has become a tool of the Japan’s governmental policies, and after its incorporation into the Cool Japan strategy, has managed to accomplish several functions in transferring some ideals of the Japanese society into the South Korean one (such as technological progress, scientific innovations, science-oriented education) and to shape a more positive attitude towards Japan among South Korean youth. The latter factor, despite several considerable geopolitical and historical disputes between Japan and South Korea that cannot be solved by means of soft power in general and anime in particular, contributed to the formation of the separate perceptions of the Japanese culture, politics and the country on the whole, thus providing promising preconditions for the national support and favorable development of the Japan-South Korea cooperation in the future.There are also possible ways of the further development of the topic of the current research, such as broader interpretation of the soft power concept through the lens of the constructivism theory, as well as elaboration of more precise and sophisticated methods of the soft power efficiency measurement. In addition, it may be interesting to further investigate anime influence in South Korea taking into accoung the trends of globalization and internationalization, as well as the particularities of the socio-cultural development of the East Asian region in general.

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