Broadcast: News items

Politics academics awarded £50k grant by Academy of Korean Studies

Two academics from the Department of Politics have been awarded a £50,000 grant to investigate the effect of photographs distributed by the North Korean regime on public opinion in a number of other countries. 

Dr Olli Hellman and Dr Kai Oppermann have been awarded the grant by the Academy of Korean Studies to analyse photographs supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KNCA) over a period of two years. 

As access to North Korea is heavily restricted for independent photographers, the KCNA’s photographs are usually the international media’s only visual insight to the region, meaning that the globe’s visual knowledge is largely shaped by images produced by the North Korean regime itself. 

General communications research has indicated that photographs play an important role in determining attitudinal responses in news audiences, so when the KNCA’s photographs are used alongside international news reports, they have the potential to significantly shape public opinion on foreign policy towards North Korea. 

Despite the presence of the KNCA’s photographs in the international media, scholarly literature has so far failed to provide a systematic analysis of their imagery. 

Dr Hellman and Kai Oppermann now plan to use their expertise in the study of dictatorships and foreign policy analysis to undertake a research project that aims to fill the gap in existing literature. 

Their research will establish what narrative the North Korean regime is pushing through the KNCA’s photographs and investigate the effect of the photographs on foreign policy opinion in countries that are central players in the Korean conflict – South Korea, the United States of America, Japan, China and Russia. 

To undertake the research, the pair will employ a multi-method research design that combines a quantitative content analysis with an innovative survey experiment. 

Their findings will make an important contribution to academic debates on North Korea – in particular, in relation to public diplomacy and the formation of foreign policy opinion regarding the Korean conflict.

By: Eleanor Griggs
Last updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2018