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10 November 2023

Venue: Laue-Saal

Discussant/Moderation: Prof. Dr. Gunter Schubert (Chair of Greater China Studies, Tübingen University)


Prof. Dr. Cho Kisuk (Graduate School of International Studies, Ewha Womans University, Seoul, South Korea) (online): Theoretical Review on Soft Power and Cultural Diplomacy

Since the seminal publication of Joseph Nye’s Soft Power, new public diplomacy emerged as one of the hottest topics in diplomatic studies. Soft power became the central concept of public diplomacy. Despite much progress, the conceptualization of soft power is at a Nye’s standstill, in which resources and assets define soft power. The most severe problem of this conceptualization stems from the fact that soft power is defined in a tautological way: some regard public diplomacy as the result of soft power, while others view soft power as the result of public diplomacy. I argue that there are two aspects of soft power: one is (Type I) inherited from the past, particularly from imperial-colonial history, whereas the other (Type II) is formed as the outcome of effective public or cultural diplomacy.

This study will present a theoretical model that not only explicates the two types of soft power and hard power but also how these powers are related to public diplomacy. This will help explain the ambivalent(polarized) image of South Korea in the East Asian region, while South Korea’s favorability is rising in other parts of the world. It also attempts to disentangle the close link between cultural and public diplomacy. Many idealize that culture and politics should be separated. Still, in the real world, both are entangled, particularly in UNESCO heritage registration due to UNESCO rules that foster contestation among neighboring countries. In the registration process, the role of hard power is ironically overwhelming. To understand complicated and ambivalent phenomena in East Asian cultural diplomacy, theoretical discussion and conceptualization on soft power, cultural diplomacy, and public diplomacy should be preceded.


Prof. Dr. Eun-hee Woo (Center for Language Education, Josai International University, Chiba, Japan):

The polarization of Japanese perceptions of South Korea

In the last two decades, Japanese perceptions of South Korea have been polarized. On the one hand, as in many other countries, the fandom of Korean pop culture including K-pop, drama, and fashion, has dramatically increased. Also, the Korean wave consumer groups became much younger. In consequence, the need for Korean language courses and departments of Korean studies at the university level has also risen. On the other hand, Japanese antipathy toward South Korea has also become palpable. In Japanese bookstores, for example, it is not difficult to find books with hateful content toward South Koreans. One of the main reasons for these polarizing perceptions is the rapid transformation of South Korea which provides different experiences for Japanese people. From the Japanese older generation’s viewpoint, South Korea is still a developing country that cannot politically and economically compete against Japan. From the younger generation’s perspective, however, South Korea is one of the leading countries in producing popular culture. In this talk, I will discuss anti-Korean sentiments in Japan as a xenophobic reaction to the popularity of the Korean waves

Venue: Laue-Saal


Discussant/Moderation: Prof. Dr. Cornelia Reiher (Japanese Society, Freie Universität Berlin)


Kwon Gi-Jun (National Museum of Korean Contemporary History, Seoul, South Korea): The Korean Wave Exhibition in Germany

The Korean Wave, a surge of Korean popular culture, has risen more dramatically than ever in recent years. This rise resulted in exhibitions in London and Seoul. The Victoria & Albert Museum introduced the overall concept of the Korean Wave, from history to fashion. Meanwhile, the National Museum of Korean Contemporary History focused on the Korean Wave as a global phenomenon and tried to compare it to other cultural waves from America and Asia. As the Korean Wave did, these two exhibitions are preparing touring exhibitions on the other side of the world. What can be discussed through the exhibition when meeting the new audience? Reviewing the 30-year history of Korean music, drama, and movies will give visitors a new perspective on how Korea's hybrid culture, different from that of China and Japan, grew with the interaction between nationalism and transnationalism. Moreover, how fandom was formed and rose, accepting not well-known Asian culture would be an essential subject to deal with in the German context.


Prof. Dr. Julia Gerster-Damerow (IRIDES, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan): Disaster Cultural Memory in Japan. How to represent 3.11?

After the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, numerous disaster memorial facilities were preserved or newly created at the Pacific coast of the Tohoku region. However, the distinction between what is upheld as a cherished piece of cultural memory and what is dismissed as mere "debris" has emerged as a deeply contentious and persistently debated issue within local communities. This presentation introduces some of these multifaceted debates, shedding light on the divergent narratives that have arisen among the stakeholders involved.

Venue: Laue-Saal

Speakers (Online Panel)

    • Prof. Dr Yoshimi Shun'ya (Faculty of Interdisciplinary Information Studies, Tokyo University, Japan)
    • Prof. Dr. Pak Tae-gyun (Modern Korean History, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea): A rediscovery of Modern East Asia in Connectivity with the World History
    • Prof. Dr. Laurent Chircop-Reyes (Chinese Studies, D2iA, Université Bordeaux Montaigne): Martial Arts and Cultural Heritage

    Discussant/Moderation: Urs Matthias Zachmann (History and Culture of Modern Japan, Freie Universität Berlin)



Prof. Dr. Laurent Chircop-Reyes (Chinese Studies, Université Bordeaux Montaigne, D2iA): Martial Arts and Cultural Heritage

Chinese martial arts are traditionally transmitted through the private master-disciple relationship. In recent years, some masters have been expressing their concern about the desuetude of their art, which calls into question the confidential modes of transmission and what is held to be orthodox in it. Concurrently, intangible cultural heritage (ICH) taken by a wide range of social actors, including the masters, attempts to evaluate practices and perpetuate lineages. Taking an esoteric martial art of Shanxi Province (China), this presentation aims at discussing on the constraints and balance arising from efforts to preserve cultural integrity, on the one hand, and engaging in evaluation and standardisation processes, on the other.

Venue: Laue-Saal


Chair:  Prof. Dr. Sabrina Habich-Sobiegalla (GEAS Vice Director, State and Society of Modern China, Freie Universität Berlin)