Korea's Democratization

Korea's Democratization

Korea's Democratization

Korea's Democratization

Synopsis

Although the Republic of Korea is regarded as a shining example of democracy in East Asia and a secure electoral democracy, its journey toward democratic consolidation is far from complete. Some of the best scholars on Korean politics explore and assess the complex interplay of the facilitating and inhibiting factors that have influenced and reshaped Korea's democratic consolidation process at all levels of state and society as well as the prospects for consolidation in the coming years.

Excerpt

Since the late 1980s, the Republic of Korea (ROK, or hereafter “Korea”), a formerly war-ravaged country, has acquired a scintillating dual identity as an East Asian model of economic prosperity and political democracy. Korea also became the first third-wave democracy in East Asia to transfer power peacefully to an opposition party, in early 1998. Despite the countryU +0027s brief but checkered history, with no less than nine constitutional amendments and three aborted democratic openings between 1948 and 1988, Korea has made significant progress toward establishing pluralistic governing institutions and protecting the political and civil liberties of its citizens.

Although there is little doubt that Korea is now a secure electoral democracy, with electoral politics the only game in town, its journey toward democratic consolidation is far from complete. Much work and reform is still needed to consolidate Korea's democracy. The legacy of authoritarianism, deeply entrenched Confucian values, and regional factionalism are among the variety of forces continuously testing the newly established democratic procedures and institutions. Moreover, the countryU +0027s limited experience in democracy thus far has provided little time for democratic norms and values to take root among the citizens and for necessary sociopolitical reforms to develop a more transparent, accountable, and responsive government.

The focal point of this study is Korea's democratic consolidation, defined as a multidimensional and multicausal process. Working from this definition, this project seeks to explore how Korea's democracy has deepened in all the key dimensions of political life – cultural, behavioral, and institutional – and at various levels of state and society – mass public, intermediate civil society, and government. What specific cultural, behavioral, and institutional characteristics distinguish Korean-style . . .

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