Taegeuk Warriors with Blue Eyes: A Media Discourse Analysis of the South Korean Men’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team and Its Naturalized Athletes

Na Ri Shin, Doo Jae Park, Jon Welty Peachey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study examines media discourses of the naturalized athletes of the South Korean men’s national ice hockey team. Building on the conceptual frameworks of imagined community, ethnic nationalism, and previous studies on athlete migration and naturalization, we further an understanding of the process of deconstruction and reconstruction of South Korean ethnic and national identity. We use Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis to explore how South Korean media legitimized the naturalization of foreign athletes without Korean ancestry and suggest three themes found from the discourses. First, the discourses highlighted the significance of the South Korean team’s Olympic success, which provided a legitimate reason for the recruitment of foreign athletes. Second, the naturalized athletes were described as “saviors” who possessed superior careers, physicality, and playing skills. Lastly, the media complimented the naturalized athletes’ acculturation to Korean culture by emphasizing their commitment to the nation. We argue that by forming and distributing discourses that favored the naturalization of athletes, Koreans have expanded the boundary of Koreanness. We discuss, then, the expansion of Koreanness in relation to the notion of flexible citizenship in the era of neoliberal globalization.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCommunication and Sport
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • South Korea
  • athlete migration
  • athlete naturalization
  • ethnic nationalism
  • media discourse analysis
  • sporting nationalism

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