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A critical discourse analysis of the news on north korean missile launches part 5

Chapter 3
As we have mentioned, the research is carried out in two stages: the analysis of headlines
and the analysis of full-text news reports. In the first stage, we will make a detailed
description of the representation of the US- Japan coalition and North Korea in the headlines
from VOA and Nhan Dan. The second stage of analysis will examine and discuss the use of
the most prominent discursive strategies practiced by the two sources of news in representing
the two groups of actors in order to provide supports for what is found in the first stage.
3.1. Analysis of Headlines

This part aims at answering the following questions:
i. What are the most prominent processes attributed to the US- Japan coalition and
North Korea by VOA and Nhan Dan?
ii. What are the most prominent roles assigned to these groups of actors by VOA and
Nhan Dan?
iii. Why are the US- Japan coalition and North Korea involved in such processes and roles
in VOA and Nhan Dan?
The news under analysis was reported in the period of time after North Korea missile test on
July 5
2006. It should be noted here that there have been six-party nuclear talks which aim

to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns as a result of the North Korean nuclear
weapons program. There has been a series of meetings with six participating states: the
People's Republic of China; the Republic of Korea (South Korea); the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (North Korea); the United States of America; the Russian Federation; and
Japan. These talks were a result of North Korea withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003. Five rounds of talks from 2003 to 2006 produced little
net progress because of the different goals and interests of the six nations. After the missile
test on July 5, the US and Japan strongly criticized North Korea and tried to persuade the
United Nations to give sanctions against North Korea. Meanwhile, Russia and China - two
veto-wielding Council members - opposed strong punitive actions against North Korea and
they expressed concerns that punitive measures would inflame tensions in the region.
3.1.1. Voice Of America
Having a quick look at the headlines from VOA (Appendix 1), we can see that most of the
articles (88.9%) were released before July 15- the day when the UN made its resolution in
response to the missile test. This well served the US and Japan’s intention of putting pressure
on the Security Council to produce a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea. Another
thing is that the articles which directly represent the viewpoint of Russia and China are very
few (23.1%) compared to those of the US and Japan (76.9%), which partly proves VOA’s
priority to the latter.
The transitivity analysis of headlines shows that VOA positively represents the US and
Japan. We can see that a majority of processes are attributed to the US and Japan (76.9%)
and all these processes are either verbal (60%) or material (40%). The US and Japan play the
role of actor and sayer in all the processes. In material processes, they play the role of actor
with verbs denoting positive actions, or showing their power and domination, as in:
VOA3 US, Asian neighbors weigh responses to N. Korea missile launch
VOA12 Bush seeks unified stance on North Korea
VOA14 US Intelligence Chief vows to protect American civil liberties
The material process ‘protect’ may bare a presupposition that the US is in danger of being
attacked and the implicature here would be that North Korea should be punished and the US
should launch pre-emptive strike to protect itself. This creates on the readers’ mind a
positive impression of the US’ intention.
In all verbal processes, the US and Japan are assigned the sayer role, which shows their
power and their active position:
VOA1 White House confirms North Korea launches five missiles, one long-range
VOA9 Japan urges UN sanctions against North Korea
VOA18 Japan, China, South Korea, ASEAN urge North Korea to talk
The verbal process ‘urge’ strongly indicates that the US and Japan are putting pressure on
the UN as well as on North Korea and that a resolution should be made immediately. In this

way, VOA produces and reproduces the US and Japan’s domination over North Korea in the
power relation between them. The domination is reinforced in the verbal process :
VOA14 US Intelligence Chief vows to protect American civil liberties
The process implies the US’ millitary strength and suggests that they are ready for millitary
actions. Moreover, by putting other nations in the same subjects as in ‘US, Asian neighbors’
(VOA3) or ‘Japan, China, South Korea, ASEAN’ (VOA18) , the US and Japan have
indirectly drawn other nations to their side in order to achieve their purpose of isolating
North Korea. In short, the types of processes associated with the US and Japan, the nature of
their involvement and the roles they play in those processes reveal a positive representation
of this coalition by VOA.
On the other hand, the transitivity analysis of the headlines well proves that VOA has
generated a negative image of North Korea on the readers’ mind. Like the US and Japan,
North Korea is also engaged mainly in material and verbal processes: material 40%, verbal
46.7% and relational 13.3%. North Korea occupies the role of actor in many material
processes (83.3%); however, the nature of the processes shows an opposite image via verbs
denoting negative meanings :
VOA4 North Korea tests seventh missile despite international condemnation
VOA6 N. Korean missile launches provoke international criticism
VOA16 North Korea ignores South Korean criticism
The verb ‘provoke’ strongly indicates that North Korea has intentionally made not only the
US but the whole world angry and opposed to its action, which well supports the US’
purpose of isolating North Korea. The verb ‘ignore’ means that North Korea pays no
attention to South Korea’s opinion. Using this word, VOA has widened the gap in the
vulnerable relationship between North and South Korea. These processes drive the readers to
think that North Korea is not cooperative in healing the relationship and keeping peace
although this may not be the fact.
The negative impression on North Korea is reinforced in verbal processes, in which it is
assigned both the role of sayer (57.1%) and target (42.9%). What is particularly crucial here
is the nature of North Korea’s involvement in these verbal processes :
VOA2 North Korea defends missile tests as 'Sovereign Right'
VOA10 North Korea vows more missile launches
VOA13 N. Korea says Japanese sanctions will bring 'disastrous' response
VOA18 Japan, China, South Korea, ASEAN urge North Korea to talk
The verbal process ‘defend’ bares a presupposition that North Korea has done something
wrong and has to protect itself from criticism. The word ‘vow’ potrays North Korea as an
agressive and hostile nation which is threatening the world with its missiles. The process
‘say’ seems normal but what North Korea says is not normal at all, it sounds like a
declaration of war: ‘Japanese sanctions will bring 'disastrous' response’. VOA has moved the
readers to perceive that North Korea is agressive and its action is blameable and
unacceptable, thus it deserves condemnation and strong punitive measures from the United
Nations. Even the relational process creates a negative impact on North Korea:
VOA11 Pyongyang remains defiant after missile launches
The word ‘defiant’ which means showing open refusal to obey something suggests the
uncooperative attitude of North Korea. To sum up, it is transparent through the transitivity
analysis of the selected headlines that VOA represents North Korea negatively. North Korea
is assigned the role of both actor and sayer but it performs negative doings and sayings.
From VOA’s viewpoint, North Korea is an agressive and hostile nation which possesses
missiles- weapon of mass destruction, thus posing big threat to world peace. It therefore
deserves punitive measures, even millitary actions.
3.1.2. Nhan Dan
Unlike VOA, Nhan Dan seems to have a neutral stance on this issue, thus the headlines from
Nhan Dan sound more objective. Instead of mainly representing the US and Japan, it also
raises the voice from all the countries involved with a relatively balanced proportion: 47.4%
of the processes are attributed to other countries including Russia and China compared to
52.6% to the US and Japan.
The transitivity analysis of the headlines from Nhan Dan shows that, like in VOA, all the
processes attributed to the US and Japan are either verbal (60%) or material processes (40%).
Similar to VOA, the US and Japan play the role of sayer or actor in all of these processes.
What is different is the nature of the processes :
ND1 Triều Tiên thử tên lửa, Mỹ và Nhật Bản đe dọa trừng phạt
ND3 Mỹ đề nghị đàm phán về việc Triều Tiên thử tên lửa
ND6 Mỹ đề nghị Trung Quốc thuyết phục Triều Tiên trở lại bàn đàm phán
ND8 Mỹ tỏ thất vọng đối với phản ứng của Triều Tiên
The verbal process ‘đe dọa’ may also suggest the US- Japan coalition’s power. However, it
leaves on the readers a negative impact of this coalition. The process potentially leads the
readers to a perception that this coalition may abuse their power to press such a small
country as North Korea to do what they want. In other verbal processes, unlike VOA which
uses words denoting strong opposition, Nhan Dan employs words that can lighten the
reactions: instead of ‘urge’ it uses ‘đề nghị’ which means ‘to suggest’, instead of expressing
‘condemnation’ or ‘criticism’ it uses ‘tỏ thất vọng’ which means ‘to show disappointment’,
and the word ‘đàm phán’ is repeated many times.
ND2 Trung Quốc quan tâm, Nhật Bản tiếp tục đàm phán về vấn đề tên lửa của Triều Tiên
ND13 Nhật Bản xem xét trừng phạt kinh tế đối với Triều Tiên
Using the material processes ‘tiếp tục đàm phán’ and ‘xem xét trừng phạt’, Nhan Dan has
described Japan as willing to talk and negotiate while in VOA Japan is urging for punitive
sanctions against North Korea. With these verbal and material processes, unlike in VOA,
Nhan Dan has portrayed the US and Japan as more likely to have negotiation than to take
punitive measures, and so it has driven the readers to think of peaceful solutions to the
In Nhan Dan, like in VOA, North Korea is involved mainly in verbal (58.3%) and material
processes (41.7%). Apart from this similarity, there are differences between the two sources
of news concerning the representation of North Korea. Instead of the image of a hostile and
agressive North Korea in VOA, Nhan Dan seems to have a more objective view of this
ND1 Triều Tiên thử tên lửa , Mỹ và Nhật Bản đe dọa trừng phạt
ND4 Triều Tiên tuyên bố sẽ tiếp tục thử tên lửa
ND6 Mỹ đề nghị Trung Quốc thuyết phục Triều Tiên trở lại bàn đàm phán
ND12 Triều Tiên bác bỏ nghị quyết HĐBA Liên hợp quốc
We can see that Nhan Dan simply reports what happened without adding any spice to the
situation as ‘despite international condemnation’ or ‘provoke international criticism’ in
VOA. The verbal processes ‘tuyên bố’ and ‘bác bỏ’ shows that North Korea is given the
chance to raise its voice in a very firm manner expressing its confidence, rights and power.
The process ‘thuyết phục’ also suggest North Korea’s rights to do what they want. In other
words, the processes attributed to North Korea in the selected headlines may imply the
newspaper’s respect for North Korea’s independence and sovereignty.
What is more, North Korea is given the oppotunity to be supported by other nations as
Russia, China and even South Korea, this is particularly important because North Korea is
never given such a chance in VOA :
ND7 Trung Quốc phản đối hành động cứng rắn đối với Triều Tiên
ND14 Hàn Quốc phản đối các biện pháp trừng phạt thêm của Mỹ đối với Triều Tiên
The verbal process ‘phản đối’ (object) strongly indicates that North Korea has also gained
support from members of the six-party talks, which is contrary to VOA where North Korea
is isolated and seen as opposed to the international community. In short, the transitivity
analysis of the headlines in Nhan Dan suggests an objective representation of North Korea in
contrast to its negative image in VOA. Nhan Dan has portrayed North Korea as a state which
has its own independence and sovereignty and which has bravely raised its strong voice to
protect itself.
3.2. Analysis of Full-text News Reports
As we have analyzed, the representations of the US- Japan coalition and North Korea in
VOA and Nhan Dan’s headlines are different and the differences are reinforced in the full-
text news reports. In this part, we will investigate the following discourse features and
strategies: naming referents, lexicalization, over-lexicalization, and quotation patterns.
3.2.1. Naming referents VOA
The analysis of naming referents in VOA reveals that naming referents for the US- Japan
coalition are all formal and neutral, which shows VOA’s respectfulness toward the US-
Japan coalition while North Korea has some names carrying negative values showing
disrespectfulness. This is shown in the table below :
Table 1. Names for US-Japan coalition and North Korea in VOA
The US- Japan coalition North Korea
the United States (x28)
Japan (x30)
Washington (x12)
Tokyo (x5)
Pentagon (x3)
the Defense Department (x2)
the Bush Administration
North Korea (x106)
Pyongyang (x43)
the North (x11)
the impoverished communist state
the impoverished Stalinist nation
the impoverished North
the isolated communist nation
North Korea's foreign ministry (x3)
Pyongyang's Foreign Ministry
its (North Korea’s) regime
the regime that's in power in
President Bush (x2)
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Assistant Secretary of State
Christopher Hill (x2)
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary
Ri Pyung Dok, a policy researcher
at North Korea's Foreign Ministry
in Pyongyang (x2)
Pyongyang's U.N. envoy Pak Gil
A North Korean announcer
Shinzo Abe
Abe (x2)
Alexander Vershbow, the U.S.
ambassador to South Korea (x2)
Vershbow (x2)
Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro
Koizumi (x2)
Mr. Koizumi
Spokesman Bryan Whitman
Whitman (x3)
the Pentagon spokesman (x2)
Japan's U.N. Ambassador Kenzo
Washington's U.N. Ambassador John
We can see VOA’s negative attitude towards North Korea in such names as: ‘the
impoverished communist state’, ‘the impoverished Stalinist nation’, ‘the impoverished
North’, and ‘the isolated communist nation’. In their eyes, North Korea is a poor and small
country, thus having no power in the international community. Not only that, its communist
government has isolated itself from the whole world with its policies and no country would
help or support it. Another salient naming referent used for North Korea’s government in
VOA is ‘regime’ as in: ‘its regime’ or ‘the regime that's in power in Pyongyang’. When a
government is called a regime, it usually means that the government is not elected in a fair
way. With this negative word, North Korea is portrayed as an enemy not only of the US but
also of the fair and democratic world. Using such naming referents, VOA has evoked
disrespectfulness and hatred for the North Korean government among readers. Nhan Dan
Different from VOA, Nhan Dan’s naming referents reveal the newspaper’s respect and equal
treatment toward both the US- Japan coalition and North Korea:
Table 2. Names for US-Japan coalition and North Korea in Nhan Dan
The US- Japan coalition North Korea
Mỹ (x42)
Nhật Bản (x21)
Mỹ và Nhật Bản (x2)
Chính phủ Nhật Bản (x3)
Bộ Ngoại giao Mỹ
Bộ Ngoại giao Nhật Bản
Bộ quốc phòng Nhật Bản
Nhà Trắng
Triều Tiên (x88)
Bình Nhưỡng (x11)
Bộ Ngoại giao Triều Tiên (x4)
Tổng thống Bush
Tổng thống Mỹ George W Bush
Shinzo Abe, chánh văn phòng nội các Nhật
trưởng phát ngôn viên chính phủ Nhật
Shinzo Abe
Chánh văn phòng nội các kiêm trưởng phát
ngôn viên chính phủ Nhật Bản Shinzo Abe
ông Shinzo Abe
ông Abe
Ngoại trưởng Rice
Ngoại trưởng
Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao Mỹ C. Rice
Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao Mỹ Condoleezza
Bà Rice
Bộ trưởng Quốc phòng Donald Rumsfeld
Trợ lý Ngoại trưởng Mỹ Christopher Hill
Trợ lý Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao Mỹ
Christopher Hill
ông Christopher Hill
đặc phái viên Mỹ về vấn đề Triều Tiên
ông Han Song Ryol, Phó
Trưởng đoàn đàm phán của
Triều Tiên tại LHQ
một quan chức Bộ Ngoại giao
Triều Tiên
một quan chức thuộc Bộ ngoại
giao Triều Tiên tại Bình
ông Ri
Các nhà ngoại giao Triều Tiên
Phó Chủ tịch Ủy ban Thường
vụ Hội nghị nhân dân tối cao
Triều Tiên Yang Hyong Sop
ông Yang
Christopher Hill
trưởng đoàn đàm phán hạt nhân của Mỹ
Christopher Hill
Ông Hill (x2)
cố vấn an ninh quốc gia Mỹ Hadley
Cố vấn an ninh quốc gia Mỹ Stephen
Đại sứ Mỹ tại LHQ John Bolton (x2)
John Bolton, đại sứ Mỹ tại Liên hợp quốc
Đại sứ Mỹ John Bolton
Hai quan chức Bộ Ngoại giao Mỹ, yêu cầu
được giấu tên
Giới chức ngoại giao Mỹ
Thủ tướng Nhật Junichiro Koizumi
ông Koizumi
Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao Nhật Bản Aso Taro
Bộ trưởng Ngoại giao Nhật Bản Taro Aso
Ngoại trưởng Nhật Taro Aso
Đại sứ Nhật Bản, Kenzo Oshima (x2)
Thứ trưởng Ngoại giao Mỹ Nicholas Burns
Ông Burns
The table shows that names for the US- Japan coalition and North Korea are both neutral and
formal. The governments are referred to formally and the officials are also called formally by
title plus their full names of last names. No names carrying negative ideological connotations
are counted. It could be suggested by the analysis of naming referents that Nhan Dan
represents the US- Japan coalition and North Korea in a similar manner which shows respect
and equal treatment toward them both.
3.2.2. Lexicalization
Lexicalization is the strategy to do with lexical choices. Examining choices of wordings will
contribute to making explicit ideological differences embedded in the new stories. In this
section, we will choose to focus on two most prominent phenomena: the wording for North
Korea’s activities and the wording for the US- Japan coalition’s activities. VOA
There is a great deal of evidence which proves that VOA’s lexicalization works toward
portraying North Korea as posing a threat to the world security by producing and testing its
missiles and defying international criticism.
Table 3. Negativization of North Korea’s activities in VOA
Source Negative words describing North Korea’s activities
VOA2 has defended his country's right to launch missiles
increase North Korea's isolation
sparking condemnation from several countries
worsen North Korea's isolation and hurt its relationship with Seoul
threatens Japan's air and maritime traffic
developing nuclear weapons
isolate itself from the international community
VOA3 has also refused to end its nuclear weapons program
the North intended to intimidate the United States and its allies in Asia, but the
plan may have backfired
“it could not threaten the United States directly… But it has been so
provocative, it has been so inattentive to international concerns”
provoke China's historic enemy, Japan
VOA6 Defying weeks of international warnings
refusing to return to six-nation talks on implementing a pledge it made to stop
developing nuclear weapons
VOA7 North Korea's development, deployment and proliferation of missiles and missile-
related materials, equipment and technology pose a threat to the region and to
the world
VOA9 staged a series of provocative missile tests
developing missiles or weapons of mass destruction

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