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Thinking about engaging North Korea: A study on the framing of the U.S. human rights public discourse in the Washington Post and New York Times between 2001 and 2017

Rachael M. Rudolph

Asia and the Pacific Policy Studies, 2019, vol. 6, issue 3, 308-351

Abstract: North Korea said in January 2019 that it was exploring ways to engage the human rights issue. This was a much welcomed announcement because the issue must be addressed in order for the two countries to reach a formal, comprehensive peace agreement and the lifting or easing of unilateral sanctions. This study utilizes framing as an analytical tool to examine how the North Korean human rights discourse is framed in the United States for the purpose of identifying the salient rights‐based issues covered in two traditional media outlets, namely, the Washington Post and New York Times. Next, it reframes the discourse using a coding schema based on the convergence of the human rights, human security, and non‐traditional security discourses. A reframing of the discourse highlights how the universalist–particularist debate in the traditional rights‐based literature masks the underlying issues of the rights problem. A combination of the traditional rights‐based discourse and the masking of the issues contributes to a disconnect in the way in which North Korea has been engaged in the past. Therefore, a reframing of the discourse using the convergence of the human rights, human security, and non‐traditional security discourses could open new pathways for engagement.

Date: 2019
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