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The Politics Of Democratization In Korea

The Politics Of Democratization In Korea

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 196
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  • Book Info
    The Politics Of Democratization In Korea
    Book Description:

    What role did civil society play in Korea's recent democratization? How does the Korean case compare with cases from other regions of the world? What is the current status of Korean democratic consolidation? What are the prospects for Korean democracy?

    In December 1997, for the first time in the history of South Korea (hereafter Korea), an opposition candidate was elected to the presidency. Korea became the first new democracy in Asia where a horizontal transfer of power occurred through the electoral process. Sunhyuk Kim's study of democratization in Korea argues that the momentum for political change in Korea has consistently emanated from oppositional civil society rather than from the state. He develops a civil society paradigm and utilizes Korea's three authoritarian breakdowns (only two of which resulted in democratic transitions) to illustrate the past and present influences of Korean civil society groups on authoritarian breakdowns, democratic transitions, and post-transition democratic consolidations.

    One of the first systematic attempts to apply a civil society framework to a democratizing country in East Asia,The Politics of Democratization in Koreawill be of use to political scientists and advanced undergraduate and graduate students working in comparative politics, political theory, East Asian politics, and the politics of democratization.

    eISBN: 978-0-8229-7217-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. List of Tables and Figures
    (pp. ix-x)
  2. CHAPTER 1 Introduction: Korean Democratization and Civil Society
    (pp. 1-6)

    MORE than twelve years have passed since democratization began in earnest in South Korea (hereafter referred to as Korea) in 1987. During the past decade, there have been a number of prominent changes in Korean politics. First of all, political contestation has become much fairer.¹ Today, there are no longer undemocratic “gymnasium elections” (ch’eyukkwan sŏn’gŏ). Under the previous authoritarian regimes, the president was elected indirectly by members of the national electoral college, who gathered in a large athletic gymnasium and voted nearly unanimously for the designated authoritarian ruler. Since 1987, however, opposition party candidates’ chances of getting elected have increased...

  3. CHAPTER 2 Civil Society and Democratization: Conceptual and Theoretical Issues
    (pp. 7-22)

    WHAT is labeled “the third wave” of global democratization¹ or “the global resurgence of democracy”² has been characterizing our times. Over the past two decades or so, this “democratic revolution”³ transformed numerous parts of Southern Europe, Latin America, Asia, Africa, and eventually engulfed the entire Soviet bloc.⁴ Authoritarian regimes and totalitarian party-states unraveled one after another, and transitions to democracy ensued. Although widely dissimilar in terms of timing, mode, pace, and degree, transitions from totalitarianism and authoritarianism in general have significantly increased the number of democracies on the globe.⁵

    Considering the impact of the third wave on the present and...

  4. CHAPTER 3 Civil Society in the First Democratic Juncture, 1956–1961
    (pp. 23-49)

    IN this chapter, I investigate how civil society affected democratization in the first democratic juncture of Korea from 1956 to 1961. This period, after an evanescent democratic respite, was followed by a military coup and ultimately by an authoritarian regression. During this period, however, groups in Korean civil society—particularly student organizations—played crucial roles in bringing down the authoritarian regime of Syngman Rhee and in pressuring the succeeding governments to pursue democratic reforms. In section 1, I explain how the internal constitution of Korean civil society was historically shaped and changed up to 1956, focusing on some important precolonial...

  5. CHAPTER 4 Civil Society in the Second Democratic Juncture, 1973–1980
    (pp. 50-76)

    IN this chapter, I shift to Korea’s second attempt at democratization between 1973 and 1980. This democratic juncture began with a series of antigovernment demonstrations in the aftermath of the proclamation of a highly authoritarian political system named Yusin and ended with a multiphased coup in 1979 and 1980. In section 1, I examine the internal configuration of civil society in the 1960s. I particularly focus on some of the important changes in comparison with the first democratic juncture. In section 2, I analyze how civil society groups affected the authoritarian breakdown of the Park Chung Hee regime in 1979....

  6. CHAPTER 5 Civil Society in the Third Democratic Juncture, 1984–1987
    (pp. 77-104)

    IN this chapter, I turn to the third democratic juncture in Korea, between 1984 and 1987. Unlike the previous two democratic junctures, the transition in this juncture was not aborted in the middle and therefore eventually led to democratic consolidation. In section 1, I briefly describe the conditions to which Korean civil society was subject under the authoritarian regime of Chun Doo Hwan. In section 2, I examine the role of civil society in the authoritarian breakdown of the Chun regime from 1984 to 1987. I analyze why the authoritarian regime decided to initiate a “phase of political relaxation” (Yuhwa...

  7. CHAPTER 6 Civil Society in Democratic Consolidation, 1988–Present
    (pp. 105-136)

    IN this chapter, I explore the latest phase of Korean democratization—consolidation of democracy. Focusing on the posttransitional settings, I analyze how civil society groups have been affecting and shaping the politics of democratic consolidation in Korea. In section 1, I examine the changes in the internal composition of Korean civil society since 1988. In section 2, selecting several prominent themes and issues in the politics of democratic consolidation, I investigate how various groups in civil society have interacted with each other to influence political processes. In section 3, I briefly consider the impact of the recent economic crisis in...

  8. CHAPTER 7 Conclusion: From Protest to Advocacy
    (pp. 137-150)

    IN this book, I have argued that civil society groups consistently commenced and forwarded various stages of Korean democratization. Diverse groups in civil society—particularly student groups, labor unions, and religious organizations—contributed to authoritarian breakdown and democratic transition in different periods. In addition, unlike in some cases in other regions of the world, where civil society was rapidly demobilized and depoliticized after the transition from authoritarian rule, civil society in Korea continues to play a significant role in the politics of democratic consolidation.

    In the first democratic juncture (1956–1961), primarily students and urban intellectuals revolted against the repression...