The Odyssey of Korean Democracy: Korean Politics, 1987-1990

The Odyssey of Korean Democracy: Korean Politics, 1987-1990

The Odyssey of Korean Democracy: Korean Politics, 1987-1990

The Odyssey of Korean Democracy: Korean Politics, 1987-1990

Synopsis

Lee offers a rare eyewitness account of Korea's recent chaotic, and frequently violent journey to democracy. He offers informed observations on Korea's three famous Kims and Roh Tae-woo, and of the dramatic political events leading to the presidential election in December 1987 and the parliamentary elections in April 1988. Lee also examines the formation of a super-ruling party. Readers will benefit from Lee's presence in the offices of the presidential candidates and from his conversations with leaders directly responsible for the fate of Korean democracy. Knowing what happened in Korean politics during the past three years is prerequisite to understanding the decline of Korea's repressive authoritarian system.

Excerpt

This book recounts the many twists and turns of the Korean journey to democracy, with special reference to the dramatic political events leading up to the presidential election in December 1987 and the general parliamentary elections in the spring of 1988 and beyond. I have titled it The Odyssey of Korean Democracy because Korean democracy looks like a long wandering.

During the past four years, I have made a dozen trips to South Korea. I spent about eight weeks in Korea during the fall semester of 1987, observing the presidential election. One of the presidential candidates, Kim Young-sam, graciously allowed me to study the presidential election from his Office of Special Assistants. This was the first direct election in 16 years, and was one in which the people of Korea had regained their right to choose their own president. I was particularly interested in the December presidential election because, through my conversations with all four presidential candidates, I had a rare opportunity to closely observe Korean political leaders.

This book is about Korea's three famous Kims--Kim Young-sam, Kim Dae- jung, and Kim Jong-pil--and Roh Tae-woo, currently President of South Korea. Also, it is an eyewitness account of what was happening in Korean politics, particularly during and after the historic presidential election. Important sources for this book are my conversations with key political leaders who were directly responsible for the fate of Korean democracy.

Before the election, I thought (and perhaps many other people did as well) there were good guys and bad guys in Korean politics--depending on which side you were rooting for. If you wished for a change, President Chun Doo-hwan and candidate Roh Tae-woo were the bad guys; and Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam, commonly known as the two Kims, were the good guys. If you didn't want a change, the bad guys were the two Kims. Another Kim, Kim Jong-pil, was not taken too seriously by many voters.

Since the December election, the distinction between the good and bad guys has vanished. There are only winners and losers. Preelection politics and the . . .

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