Korean Society: Civil Society, Democracy and the State (Asias Transformations)

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Responsibility edited by Charles K. Imprint London ; New York : Routledge, Physical description viii, p. Series Asia's transformations. Online Available online. Full view.

Korean Society : Civil Society, Democracy and the State

Green Library. A15 K68 Unknown. More options. Find it at other libraries via WorldCat Limited preview. Contributor Armstrong, Charles K. Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index. Armstrong" 1.

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The political mission of reforming the military was passed on to the next president, Kim Young Sam — Although the Korean armed forces as an institution never intervened in politics and ordinary officers were politically moderate and not willing to interfere with civilian political affairs, a small number of individual officers or a military faction had staged the coup. Furthermore, he reshuffled more than 50 of the highest-ranking positions in the military, promoting multiple non-Hanahoe officers to division commanders, while none of the Hanahoe officers received such promotions.

Democratization in South Korea progressed toward a consolidation stage when Kim Dae Jung, the opposition minority leader, won the presidential election. It might be difficult to draw plausible lessons for establishing civilian control of the military in new democracies from the single case of South Korea.


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Keeping such limitations in mind, this article concludes by identifying some of the important lessons for successful military reforms from the South Korean experience that might be applicable to other transitional states. Political Stability through Compromise : Presumably the most crucial prerequisite for building a democratic military is ensuring political stability via strong civilian leadership with stable and transparent political institutions.

Gradualism over Revolutionary Change : Slow and sometimes limited democratic transition can bring about a more desirable outcome than revolutionary changes—at least in terms of civil—military relations. In South Korea, the five years of the Roh Tae Woo government — played a role as a caretaker for democratization and as a buffer zone between the military and the reformists.

A gradualist approach that favors coalition-building and a willingness to make acceptable compromises is usually a prudent way to proceed.

Korean Society: Civil society, democracy and the state (Asia's Transformations)

Prosecution after Democratization : Pro-democracy reformists are too often impatient and rush into hasty reforms over military and security institutions—in many cases without a proper understanding of the nature of the military as a national security institution. Moreover, a newly elected leadership that is weak, divided, and engaged in factional fighting often utilizes a purge of military officers as a political tactic to gain popular support. Such a shortsighted and politically motivated purge can backfire among the top military brass and derail the route to democracy.

For civilian leadership to remove politicized officers and reform the entire military organization, the government must already have a strong and stable democratic system. Furthermore, military reform cannot be geared toward punishing officers and weakening security institution; rather, the ultimate objective of the reform is to build strong armed forces that can effectively defend the nation and simultaneously support the norm of civilian supremacy and democracy.

Sharpe, , This article concludes with thoughts on what theoretical and policy insights the South Korean experience can impart to other countries, especially some of the Middle Eastern states currently on a mission to depoliticize their armed forces.

A key to successful democratization, including preventing the armed forces from intervening in the political process, is managing political stability and order. More often than not, pro-democracy activists tend to be impatient and overambitious about political reforms and want change all at once. Such a sweeping reform movement is likely to create political turmoil and a lack of order, which might provide the military with a window of opportunity to return for political domination.

In general, the aim of the minjung movement was not limited to establishing a liberal democracy, but was aimed at enacting revolution through violent demonstrations against the Chun Doo Hwan dictatorship — Political elites from both the old regime and pro-democracy groups accepted the proposal and, from then on, elites and white-collar civil society groups took the center stage of democratic reform and marginalized the influence of the minjung movement.

Based on the declaration, both Roh and the opposition leaders worked to rewrite the constitution by creating an eight-member working group; the National Assembly approved the new constitution in October Democratization enacted by elites could have limited the speed and scope of democratic reforms, as it reflected the voice of the old regime.

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However, maintaining sociopolitical order turned out to be the key in deterring the military from intervening during the early stages of democratization. During the early years of democratization in post-authoritarian political settings, the crucial mission is to separate the military from politics and to ensure that it focuses instead on national defense. In many cases, pro-democracy reformers attempt to accomplish this mission by making the key members of the old ruling circle accountable for their illegal or unconstitutional behavior under dictatorial rule.

Roh, a candidate from the ruling Democratic Justice Party, narrowly won the election in December Roh won the election not because he was a popular political figure, but because the pro-democracy opposition forces were split.

Democracy in South Korea(5min)

Instead, the reformists were frustrated by the fact that they had to wait another five years for the next presidential election to occur in When the democracy movement was at its height in , leaders in the Korean army were divided between hard-liners who wanted the armed forces to suppress the pro-democracy movement and those who were willing to make concessions to accept democratic reforms. Some of the officers from the pro-Chun bloc openly threatened that they would not stay out of politics if a left-leaning opposition candidate—specifically, Kim Dae Jung—won the election.