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Abstract

As the future of North Korea remains uncertain, South Korea’s constitutional recognition of North Korean defectors as South Korean nationals becomes increasingly relevant. Does South Korean newspaper coverage of North Korean defector-related issues include a positive tone, indicating an effort or intent to help, or a negative tone, indicating an intent to withhold help? How frequently is the conflict frame used in reporting of North Korean defector-related issues? In this study, 165 Korean-language newspaper articles were analyzed using a quantitative coding scheme. The material was published over a one-year period from 2016 to 2017 by three South Korean newspapers that represent conservative, economic, and progressive views. While a neutral tone was observed most frequently, a positive tone was observed significantly more than a negative tone. Out of five major news frames, the conflict frame was the most common frame, followed by the attribution of responsibility frame. Based on the theory that newspapers are a major shaper of public opinion, these findings provide valuable insight into the contrasting tones and frames that characterize the reporting of North Korean defectors in South Korea.

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