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Consolidating democracy in south korea

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Civilian control of the military is considered integral to the survival and prosperity of a democracy (Schmitter and Karl 1991).

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Yang 1999 is a comprehensive study of the politics and foreign policy of South Korea, written by a scholar and former ROK ambassador to the United States.Oberdorfer 2001 in particular does a great job of recounting South Korean domestic politics in conjunction with inter-Korean relations and its relations with the United States.Of the books published on the topic of South Korean politics, Diamond and Kim 2000, and Oh 1999 make the best introductory textbooks for undergraduate courses.To understand the politics of South Korea, it is helpful to keep in mind the following four themes: (1) the question of unification with North Korea, (2) rapid economic development, (3) democratization, and (4) the alliance with the United States.Since the establishment of the Republic of Korea in 1948, how South Koreans view North Korea has been a big factor in South Korean politics.Finally, the United States has played an extensive role especially during the early years of South Korean political developments ranging from national security, institution building, economic development, to democratization.

America’s prominence in Korea’s phenomenal successes became intertwined with resistance among progressive elements of Korea to Washington’s dominance in its internal and external policies.

During the Cold War, the authoritarian leaders often used the rivalry with communist North Korea as a means to weaken the opposition against their rule.

In the post–Cold War era, Korean nationalism expanded to include the embracing of North Koreans as “brothers” particularly during the presidencies of Kim Dae-Jung and Roh Moo-Hyun.

Kil and Moon 2001 is a good introduction to South Korean politics that covers major themes including culture, history, institutions, actors, democratization, political economy, and foreign policy.

South Korea is slipping and sliding across a slick patch in the history of its 30-year experiment with democracy.

This challenges a long-held belief that once democracies consolidate, they never go back.