The same strategy, that is, exploiting the symbolic potency of high-profile sports events, can also be found in the context of international competitions. Both Koreas have regularly used the global media attention that mega sports events tend to attract to remind the world and their respective people of their commitment to reunification. On various occasions, both countries formed a unified team for the official opening and closing ceremonies Bridges : 94—; Choi : —; Jonsson : 97— Furthermore, by participating regularly in international sporting events the North Korean rulers hope to gain from the political legitimacy conferred automatically on any country invited to participate.
However, the even bigger surprise was that the North Koreans accepted the invitation to travel to North America, although the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations. The North Korean regime appears to believe that sports diplomacy will boost their attempts to establish formal government-to-government or international non-governmental relations while maintaining strict control over the limited and selective people-to-people contacts. At the same time, it is important for the North to create and globally convey an image of political stability favourable for foreign trade and investment in order to achieve system survival.
North Korea sent athletes, sport officials and around cheerleaders to Busan. Such a large delegation had never been dispatched before or been allowed to stay for such a long period.
To Encourage or Corrupt - Sport in Society
Since the division of the Korean peninsula in , this was the first time that the official banner of the DPRK was exhibited on South Korean territory. Athletes from the North and South used the unification flag, wore identical outfits and walked together hand in hand into the stadium. After previously marching together at the opening ceremonies of several international competitions, in November , sport administrators from North and South Korea agreed, in principle, to form a unified team for the Beijing Olympics. Taking the symbolic reconciliation of the divided Korean people one step further seemed to be the logical extension to years of inter-Korean rapprochement and an important milestone towards fulfillment of the ultimate foreign policy goal of reunification.
The South Korean National Olympic Committee was skeptical and predicted four major challenges: first, the principles determining the actual selection of athletes; second, harmonising training methods; third, agreeing lines of communication and responsibilities; and finally, finances. After two years of intense negotiation, the two Koreas did not compete as one team at the Beijing Olympics as they could not agree on the principles guiding the selection of athletes.
Nevertheless, many political commentators saw the declaration of intention itself as a major breakthrough and a new milestone for inter-Korean efforts to travel one step further in their cooperation Kim First, the outcome of the general elections in South Korea in February had a huge impact on inter-Korean relations. Second, the killing of a South Korean tourist by a North Korean soldier in July in the south-east of North Korea played an important role. The year-old woman was shot after wandering into a fenced-off military area near the Mount Geumgang resort, a popular tourist destination and symbol of cross-border reconciliation, which was accessible to South Koreans.
Both events meant that the two countries did not even march together at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Two years later, China hosted the Asiad in Guangzhou. This event was marked by the absence of any reconciliatory gestures, signs of goodwill and cooperation between the two Koreas. Although only a railing in the stadium separated the spectators from both Korean countries, there was no interaction between them.
At the same time, in November , North Korea fired dozens of artillery shells onto the island of Yeonpyeong, approximately km west of Seoul. The surprising attack set more than 60 houses ablaze, killed two South Korean soldiers and two civilians, and sent the local population fleeing in terror. The artillery strike was the first of its kind since the end of the Korean War in and provoked angry reactions from the international community. They constitute only small steps that can have positive effects beyond the playing field and onto the chessboard of international relations.
North Korea does not only rely on symbolic gestures, people-to-people contacts and joint activities with the South as diplomatic tools. Although the North has regularly hosted mass games over the last decades, since the beginning of this millennium, these more or less annual events have grown grander, more sophisticated and prominent Burgeson The shows comprise and combine three distinct elements: first, in the centre of the stadium, complex and highly choreographed group routines performed by tens of thousands of young gymnasts with large artificial flowers, flags, hoops, balls, ropes and clubs , acrobats with poles, ladders, springboards, trampolines and huge metal-framed wheels and dancers in colourful costumes.
More than 20, schoolchildren hold up coloured cards that are part of a book with almost pages. They turn them so quickly and in such complete unison that these images appear to be animated. The music constitutes the third element and links the performance in the centre of the May Day stadium with the backdrop. This spectacle is full of political meanings and messages. Most prominent are the themes of Korean division, unity, nationalism and reunification. They feature more frequently than any other issue. One of the sets depicted a dramatic theatrical representation of the division of the Korean people.
Several hundred young performers magically assembled into the perfect shape of the whole Korean peninsula. Subsequently, the southern and northern halves of the peninsula inexorably drifted asunder; aching arms were outstretched in futility as unseen forces pulled the two halves apart. More recently, the reunification theme has become more prominent than ever before.
This is largely due to the above-mentioned leadership and fundamental policy changes in South Korea. The Arirang Festival even describes the unification of the divided Korean peninsula as the ultimate achievement that will secure a prosperous future for the whole nation. One of the fundamental preconditions for successfully communicating these foreign policy messages is, of course, the presence of witnesses, preferably large numbers of foreign and local spectators as well as the international media. In , only a small number of foreigners were allowed to attend the Arirang Festival Watts ; three years later, more foreigners than ever before experienced this extravaganza first-hand Watts Even Americans were issued with short-term visas, allowing them to visit Pyongyang.
Along with a growing number of curious Western spectators, in ordinary South Korean citizens were, for the first time, allowed to fly directly from Seoul Incheon to Pyongyang and watch the Arirang spectacle. That degree of openness was clearly intended to show the strength and stability of North Korea. This message would not be heard loudly and clearly unless there were select groups of foreigners there to witness it.sudeqancabes.cf
Sport and International Politics
In , the hundredth birthday celebrations of Kim Il-sung and the Arirang Festival attracted several thousand tourists from all over the world, particularly from Europe Paris However, sports events can also facilitate international cooperation, increase understanding and bridge profound differences. This potential has been systematically exploited on the divided Korean peninsula, where the use of sport as a diplomatic tool by both governments, as well as non-governmental organisations, has helped to build contacts and improve relations.
For almost a decade prior to the Beijing Olympics, sport was an integral and highly visible element of their overarching foreign policy agenda and provided a multi-layered network for engagement and dialogue between the two Korean states. National and international sports events were used systematically to send diplomatic signals and pursue specific foreign policy goals.
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These efforts show that sport is able to make considerable contributions to international relations — not as spectacular one-off gestures, but as planned, thought-through, structured and meaningful activities at both grassroots and higher levels. Inter-Korean sport encounters were an efficient way of keeping the highly emotional issue of reunification, currently an unrealistic political dream, in the public discourse. Considering the declining support for reunification among young people in South Korea, the world of sport also offers an opportunity to test, reinforce and gather domestic support for a specific foreign policy goal.
The lack of symbolic and practical cooperation at, and in the years after, the Beijing Olympics was an accurate reflection of the general deterioration of inter-Korean relations caused by the introduction of a new, much more confrontational, foreign policy agenda. This development clearly shows that the efficacy of sport as a diplomatic tool largely depends on the overarching foreign policy framework and rationale. These impressive spectacles provide the North Korean rulers with a rare opportunity to present the usually secluded country to the rest of the world and to showcase the strength and stability of its socialist system.
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Metrics Views 1. Beach : 3 Any analysis of sport as a diplomatic tool needs to be embedded within the broader fields of foreign policy and international relations.
Houlihan : 40—1 This paradigm would be very limiting, as it is unable to capture the complexity and subtleties of the Korean people that exists in two nation-states with very different socio-economic and political systems, standards of living and levels of contact with the outside world Cumings , International politics and foreign policies on the divided Korean peninsula During the Cold War — , international sports events provided both North and South Korea, both founded in , with an impressive public stage for their ideological battles.
Inter-Korean sports events, exchanges and cooperation In the aftermath of the Seoul Olympics, political relations between the two Korean states gradually improved. Contact and dialogue at global sports spectacles Both Koreas have regularly used the global media attention that mega sports events tend to attract to remind the world and their respective people of their commitment to reunification.
Ahn, M. Anan, K. The Guardian. Beach, D.
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