Res Publica - Journal of Undergraduate Research


Despite scholarly work on Northeast Asia’s growing economic influence, few authors have adequately addressed the region’s increasing cultural clout as well. This paper aims to address this cultural impact in a specific diplomatic context in regards to the South Korea and Japan, and whether their respective pop cultures can be viewed as a source of soft power. An analysis of various academic works and media stories concludes that 1) neither country has been able to turn their soft power resources into actual political leverage, though 2) Japan’s mishandling of its national branding puts South Korea in a much more advantageous place to do so, making it a possible regional tastemaker. In essence, this work twists the traditional understanding of Northeast Asian relations by looking at them through a different lens, seeking to bridge the gap between cultural theory and the soft power’s idea of “attractiveness.”