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The Role of the State in the National Mediascape: The Case of South Korea


This essay examines recent South Korean cultural transformations to contest the theoretical viability of recent accounts of globalization and political economy. Applying Appadurai's "mediascape" to the Korean context, I argue that while the demise of the state as touted by many popular and economic liberal scholars since the early 1990's remains a possibility, it is not likely in South Korea given its distinctive economic and cultural developmental path. In the Korean context, the structural logic of globalization and the recent history of the global economy can ironically be read as rationalizing the strong state. The absence of a universalizable logic connecting economic globalization to the diminution of state power accentuates the importance of attention to the normative or ideological dimensions of global order. The essay thus explores different kinds of stateness and their consequences, with more explicit attention to how the modern state, by intervening in the national media industry, can shape and deflect its own participation in global regimes to a larger extent than typically conceded by globalization scholars.

Woongjae Ryoo

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