CHAPTER 4
Redrafting Democratization Through
Women's Representation and Participation
in the Republic of Korea
Seungsook Moon

Our society is undergoing profound transformation. Politically, it is building democracy, promoting gender equality and human dignity, and civil society has been growing. … The family master system perpetuates undemocratic family, subjugating family members to the male family master.

—Bae-hee Kwak1

Conventionally ignored as a dimension of the ostensibly apolitical private sphere, the power relations of reproduction fundamentally conditions who we are (and who they are), how group cultures are propagated, and how groups/nations align (identify) themselves in cooperative, competing, and complementary ways. Insofar as these reproductive processes occur within the family/household, the latter is a crucial site of politics. … On this view, transformations in the family/household have consequences for nation-states – and vice-versa [emphasis in original]. (p. 7)

—V. Spike Peterson2

Since the political transition from authoritarian military rule to an electoral democracy in 1987, democratization in Korea has drawn much attention from activists and scholars of the “third wave” of democratization in

____________________
1
Bae-hee Kwak is the president of the Korea Legal Aid Center for Family Relations (kajokpômyulsangdamso) in Seoul, one of the oldest civic organizations in Korea, established in 1956. This quotation is translated from an in-depth interview with her conducted by the author on December 27, 2000.
2
V. Spike Peterson, “The Politics of Identification in the Context of Globalization, ” Women's Studies International Forum 19, nos. 1/2 (1996): 5–15.

-107-

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