BTS as cultural ambassadors: K-pop and Korea in Western Media

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter examines how K-pop and its artists represent ‘Korea’ within Western media discourse, considering the diplomatic implications of their role. In particular, it addresses how BTS perform the function of ‘cultural ambassador’ within popular music, a genre which has historically proved resistant to use by the state. Drawing on coverage of BTS in English-language news media, this discussion outlines prevailing attitudes to Korea which are revealed through features and commentaries on the group. Dominant discourses include the ‘othering’ of Korea as a peripheral cultural producer, competition between Western and Eastern cultural spheres, and the depiction of pop music as an exploitative industry. It argues that BTS have negotiated these discourses and shifted pre-existing depictions of K-pop and of Korea itself, showing the inextricable links between culture and politics.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe soft power of the Korean Wave
Subtitle of host publicationParasite, BTS and Drama
EditorsYouna Kim
Place of PublicationLondon ; New York
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003102489
ISBN (Print)9780367609115, 9780367609122
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2022

Publication series

NameInternationalizing Media Studies


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