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How a Map in the 'Barbie' Movie Sparked a Geopolitical Controversy

August 21, 2023

In a piece for China US Focus, Associate Professor of Political Science Seung-Youn Oh writes about the geopolitical controversy sparked by a cartoon map featured in the Barbie movie. On the map are dotted lines that resemble China's nine-dash line, which marks China's contested territorial claims over the South China Sea. Countries that challenge the nine-dash line and fall under the boundary include Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan, and Brunei.

After the map was spotted in trailers for Barbie, Vietnam canceled screenings of the film, while the Philippines decided to go ahead with its premiere. Oh breaks down what the decisions mean for each country and the current geopolitical context of the controversial boundary.

Read her article, "Not Just a Barbie Map in a Barbie World: Unveiling Hollywood’s Geopolitical Entanglement in the Indo-Pacific?" at the link below:

Read more: Read the article

Seung-Youn specializes in international relations and comparative politics in East Asia. Her broader academic interests include China’s industrial restructuring and upgrading, state-owned enterprise reform and corporate governance, the effects of national origin of foreign direct investment on local economic development, as well as the evolving role of Chinese governments at the national and sub-national levels in shaping the country’s developmental path.

Political Science