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Korean Democracy in Transition

Korean Democracy in Transition: A Rational Blueprint for Developing Societies

HeeMin Kim
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 146
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  • Book Info
    Korean Democracy in Transition
    Book Description:

    As Asian countries emerge as global economic powers, many undergo fundamental political transformations. InKorean Democracy in Transition: A Rational Blueprint for Developing Societies,HeeMin Kim evaluates the past thirty years of political change in South Korea, including the decision of the authoritarian government to open up the political process in 1987 and the presidential impeachment of 2004.

    Kim uses rational choice theory -- which holds that individuals choose to act in ways that they think will give them the most benefit for the least cost -- to explain events central to South Korea's democratization process. Kim's theoretical and quantitative analysis provides a context for South Korea's remarkable transformation and offers predictions of what the future may hold for developing nations undergoing similar transitions.

    Although there are studies in the field of Korean politics that provide an overview of this important period, there are none that offer the theoretical and analytical rigor of this study. Combining theoretical perspectives with policy-relevant discussion,Korean Democracy in Transitionsheds new light on the Korean model of democratization and makes a significant contribution to the field of comparative politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2995-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. 1 Rational Choice, Area Expertise, and Democratic Transition in Developing Societies: A Theoretical Framework
    (pp. 1-4)

    Rational choice refers to the application of microeconomic theory to various decision-making situations. It conceives of the individual as a goal-oriented actor who pursues the best available means to a given end (Booth et al. 1993; van Winden 1988). Rational choice theory assumes methodological individualism and purposeful action. According to methodological individualism, social processes and outcomes are the results of individual preferences and choices. Methodological individualism simply reminds us that only people can set goals, determine their preferences, and choose among possible alternatives. Thus, all group choices ultimately must be understood in terms of individual choices. Human action may be...

  7. 2 Kims’ Dilemma and the Politics of Rivalry: An Analysis of the Democratic Opening and the 1987 Presidential Election
    (pp. 5-24)

    Two seemingly peculiar events took place in South Korea prior to the presidential election in 1987. In June the governing party candidate, Roh Tae-woo, who was practically assured of a win in an indirect presidential election, agreed to a constitutional amendment that would require a direct election of the president in Korea. It was expected that either one of the two major opposition leaders, Kim Dae-jung or Kim Young-sam would be able to beat Roh Tae-woo, a relative newcomer, in a popular election. However, Kim Dae-jung and Kim Young-sam failed to agree on a single presidential candidacy and both of...

  8. 3 Building a New Party System: The 1990 Party Merger
    (pp. 25-40)

    The thirteenth national assembly election in Korea, held in 1988 and governed by the new electoral law enacted earlier that year, produced a fourparty system.¹ These four parties were the governing DJP and the RDP, the PPD, and the New Democratic Republican Party (NDRP). In January 1990 the DJP, NDRP, and RDP merged to form the Democratic Liberal Party (DLP) and effectively created a two-party system. The PPD was excluded from this new coalition.

    The merger of the DJP, NDRP, and RDP is puzzling for at least two reasons. First, these parties had very different historical roots, and thus indulging...

  9. 4 A Theory of Government-Driven Democratization: The Kim Young-sam Years
    (pp. 41-52)

    The thirteenth National Assembly election in Korea in 1988, a democratic one, created a four-party system. Within two years, in January 1990, the Democratic Liberal Party was formed as a grand conservative coalition through a merger of three existing parties: the governing Democratic Justice Party (DJP) with military connections; the New Democratic Republican Party (NDRP) led by Kim Jong-pil, an ex-prime minister under the Park Chung-hee regime; and the Reunification Democratic Party (RDP) led by a long-time member of the opposition, Kim Young-sam. The birth of the Democratic Liberal Party put an end to the four-party system and effectively replaced...

  10. 5 Party Preferences and Institutional Choices: A Search for a New Electoral System
    (pp. 53-70)

    The relationships between electoral systems, parties, and election outcomes have long been studied in political science. There have been theoretical studies of these relationships (see, for example, Duverger 1951; Riker 1982; Palfrey 1989) as well as empirical research (see Rae 1967; Taagepera and Shugart 1989; Lijphart 1990). These relationships have received renewed attention, since many countries in Eastern Europe and elsewhere have been searching for new forms of electoral institutions at a time of democratic transition from previously authoritarian rule (for example, Brady and Mo 1992; Lijphart 1994; Cheng and Tallian 1995; Cox 1997; Sartori 1997; Kostadinova 1999).

    It is...

  11. 6 Uncertainty in Foreign Policy Making: Changing Relations among South Korea, North Korea, and the United States of America in the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 71-86)

    Bayesian (incomplete information) games are used to analyze situations where at least one player is uncertain about the others’ preferences. For the past decade or so, Bayesian models have been rigorously applied to various aspects of international relations involving uncertainty. They include international conflict, alliance formation, deterrence, domestic constraints on foreign policy, as well as reputation building in the world political economy.¹

    These models have contributed to our understanding of international relations by uncovering complicated strategic interactions through deductive reasoning and by generating many empirically testable hypotheses. Apart from these efforts for general theory developments, however, scholars have rarely applied...

  12. 7 A Risky Game to Play: The Politics of the Impeachment Game in 2004
    (pp. 87-100)

    On March 12, 2004, a stunning political event happened in South Korea when its national assembly impeached President Roh Moo-hyun, only a year into his term as president. The opposition parties, with over twothirds of the seats in the assembly, decided to use their numerical strength only one month before the next national assembly elections. As a result of the impeachment, the case was sent to the Constitutional Court for a final decision according to the Korean constitution. Roh’s presidential powers were immediately suspended, and Prime Minister Koh Gun became acting head of state. The opposition’s reason for the impeachment...

  13. 8 Concluding Remarks
    (pp. 101-106)

    South Korea has been looked at as one of the countries to have gone through the process of democratic transition most successfully after a rapid economic development (apart from occasional scuffles among the members of the national assembly that we see on CNN).¹ I have shown in this book that the process of democratic transition in Korea since 1987 has been more or less “big-event” oriented. Political leaders have played important roles in those big events, though not necessarily in the pursuit of some normative democratic ideal as much as in an effort to protect and further their own political...

  14. Appendix A. Solution for the Equilibrium of the South-North Bayesian Game
    (pp. 107-108)
  15. Appendix B. Solution for the Equilibrium of the U.S.–North Korea Bayesian Game
    (pp. 109-112)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 113-122)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 123-130)
  18. Index
    (pp. 131-136)