Relationships between nation-states are interconnected through a delicate state of balance maintained by direct or indirect behaviors. Balance is instituted by great international powers who hold military, economic, and social dominance over others. Having greater authority over other nation-states facilitates a self-beneficial system of equilibrium – one in which great powers typically hold an increased benefit. The concept of power can be separated between direct (hard) and indirect (soft). Despite the use of direct power throughout history, indirect power can also become a compelling instrument towards developing social dominance in the international domain. The rise and dependance on technology to conduct political affairs makes it crucial to identify the methods in which various forms of media can participate in the intentional use of soft power. This research focuses on the development South Korea's use of sports and culture to gain a place of influence and security in geopolitical relations by appealing to international audiences. By analyzing three main case studies, this research argues that South Korea's transition from an authoritarian regime to a democratic government changed economic, ideological, and political structures to provide the necessary tools for freedom of expression through media. The first case study focuses on the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which symbolized the informal legitimization of South Korea as a nation-state independent from North Korea. The second case study analyzes the period of the 1990s where South Korea's authoritarian regime began its transition towards democracy through the creation of a liberal economy. The third case study analyzes the influence of South Korean legislation, economic progress, and citizen participation on the creation of media. The purpose of these case studies is to illuminate how South Korea's transition into a more democratic nation led to greater levels of participation and expression through the use of culture in the arts and sports.

Thesis Completion




Thesis Chair/Advisor

Vasquez, Paul


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Sciences


School of Politics, Security, and International Affairs

Degree Program

Political Science



Access Status

Open Access

Release Date