Jenna Gibson, Ph.D. Candidate

University of Chicago

Country: United States (Illinois)

About Me:

Jenna Gibson is a doctoral student in political science at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on media coverage of foreign policy issues, particularly related to the Korean Peninsula, as well as soft power and public diplomacy. She has presented her scholarly work at conferences including the International Communications Association, and writes for a general audience as a Korea columnist for The Diplomat magazine and has also written for Foreign Policy. Her peer-reviewed work on American media coverage of North Korea is forthcoming in Media War and Conflict.
Before beginning her doctoral studies, Jenna worked as Director of Communications for the Korea Economic Institute, a think tank in Washington, DC focused on U.S.-Korea relations. Jenna earned a Master of Science in Foreign Service degree from Georgetown University in 2015. She graduated with a degree in journalism and international studies from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2011.

Research Interests

Political Communication

Asian Politics

Foreign Policy

Media Effects

Public Diplomacy

Korean Politics

Countries of Interest

South Korea

North Korea


Journal Articles:

(2019) Conflict and Responsibility: Content Analysis of American News Media Organizations’ Framing of North Korea, Media War and Conflict, 2019, Media War and Conflict

North Korea has received a great deal of coverage in the American news media due in part to its near constant nuclear and ICBM tests in 2016, the related internet feud between the North Korean state media and U.S. President Donald Trump, and the subsequent diplomatic détente leading up to the historic Singapore Summit in 2018. The North’s bellicosity was almost universally denounced by the international community, a narrative also reflected in American media coverage of the events. However, the superficial uniformity of the response belied the diversity present in American news media framing of North Korea (and its counterpart, South Korea). In spite of the apparent congruence in attitude among different news media agencies, North Korea has been framed in multiple and contested ways, as both outmoded and impotent but also modern and threatening. These divergences are important because consumers of different news outlets may subsequently view North Korea differently and, therefore, support different policies in response to Pyongyang’s actions. Through a content analysis of the text of more than 2,500 online news pieces from five American news outlets throughout the year 2016, this study traces the varied terrain of American news media coverage of Korea (North and South), and explicates the ways in which this coverage juxtaposes long-existing tropes with new modes of coverage. Despite its importance as a geopolitical hotspot with the potential for a catastrophic war that would likely involve not just the Korean peninsula itself, but also China and the United States, no systematic analysis has yet been conducted of American news media coverage of Korea. Thus, this paper addresses a critical research gap and offers important insights for scholars and practitioners.


(2019) K-Pop’s Sexual Assault Scandal Is the Tip of the Iceberg, Foreign Policy

K-pop is a multibillion-dollar industry—and one that has long grappled with how it treats its women, from charges of sexual assault to backlash against female stars who dared to read a feminist novel. Right now it’s caught up in a sweeping scandal that has left several major stars facing accusations of arranging illegal sexual services for wealthy investors, filming explicit videos of women without their consent, and sharing those videos with each other in a now infamous chat room. That’s a contrast to K-pop’s innocent image—but it’s just the most visible example of questions about women’s role in society that South Korea has been grappling intensely with for a year.

(2019) South Korea’s Darkest Clubs Are Being Dragged Into the Light, Foreign Policy

What began as a K-pop scandal has warped into something far worse. South Korea’s prosecutors have brought charges against several famous singers, including former heartthrobs Seungri and Jung Joon-young. Seungri is accused of procuring prostitutes for potential investors through his club, Burning Sun, and Jung has been charged with taking explicit videos of women, filmed without their consent, and sharing them with other celebrities in a now infamous chatroom.

(2019) Key Convictions Show Continuing Power of #MeToo Movement in Korea, The Diplomat

A year after #MeToo took root in South Korea, the movement has sparked wide-reaching conversations on sexual harassment, domestic assault, and the role of women in Korean society. But until recently, the concrete results of the movement had remained limited. In the last month, however, three major court cases involving high-profile men accused of abuse showed the concrete fruits of the movement, and re-energized supporters to continue their fight in 2019.

(2018) K-Pop Group BTS Caught in Latest Tensions Between South Korea and Japan, The Diplomat

Last week, a Japanese TV show announced it was cancelling an appearance by K-pop megagroup BTS, citing an incident last year where one of the group’s members wore a t-shirt celebrating Korean Independence Day that also included the image of an atomic bomb explosion. Amid growing backlash, the group’s management sent out an apology this week, saying they would be reaching out to affected groups, including associations of atomic bomb survivors, to apologize directly.

Media Appearances:

TV Appearances:

(2019) CGTN America

Jenna Gibson discusses why K-pop has gone global and the recent scandals in the industry

Radio Appearances:

(2019) BBC

BTS: Who made Korea cool?

(2019) CBC

The K-pop sex scandal reveals a 'disgusting' practice of sharing spy cam 'porn': journalist

Newspaper Quotes:

(2019) CNN

K-Pop stars named in growing South Korea sex scandal

(2019) NPR

The Sex Scandals Shaking K-Pop And A Reckoning Over How South Korea Regards Women

(2018) TIME

Translating Trump and Kim: Spare a Thought for the Interpreters at the June 12 Summit

(2018) NPR

The View From Seoul On Trump-Kim Meeting: It May Never Happen, But It's Worth A Try

(2018) Forbes

Korean Entertainment Thrives On Beneficial But Tense Relationship With Chinese Investments

(2018) BBC News

K-pop drives boom in Korean language lessons