Lost and Found in «Translation»

Circulating Ideas of Policy and Legal Decisions Processes in Korea and Germany

by Eun-Jeung Lee (Volume editor) Hannes B. Mosler (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 164 Pages
Series: Research on Korea, Volume 2


This book analyzes policy translation and its ends, how the concept of translation explains the emergence and (ex-)changes of policy ideas in different places and/or across borders in general, as well as the effectiveness of this concept in analyzing cases of actual policy dissemination. This book discusses these questions on a general theoretical level and within the context of actual policies and laws mainly between South Korea and Germany. South Korea is widely considered a typical example of a reforming country that is on the receiving end of disseminations of policies and ideas from advanced countries. From this point of view, it constitutes a highly interesting case for testing the applicability of the translation approach. The basic idea of this book is to analyze how different actors in different contexts and settings adopt varying interpretations and understandings of an idea, and how well the analytical concept of translation can be utilized for this endeavor.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • I
  • II
  • III
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1 - Translation as an analytical concept
  • (1) Transfer of Knowledge as a Matter of Translation
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The “transfer” of knowledge and policies as a historical phenomenon
  • 3. Academic debates on “transfer” and translation
  • 4. The meaning of “translation”
  • 5. The characteristics of intercultural policy transfer as an act of cultural translation
  • 6. In lieu of a conclusion
  • References
  • (2) Translating Welfare Assemblages in the “New” Eastern Europe: Re-domaining the Social?
  • 1. Introduction: Escaping the orthodoxies of social policy studies
  • 2. Translating welfare assemblages: Reconceptualizing social policy
  • 3. Re-domaining the social in the “new” Eastern Europe: Hybridities and contestations
  • 4. Conclusion: For an “ethics of translation” in research, policy, and practice
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 2 - Translations in social policy making
  • (3) The Making of the Welfare State in Korea: Policy Discourses and Strategies
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Competing discourses and strategies relating to the welfare state
  • 3. The political dynamics of the welfare state
  • 4. The institutional consequences of the welfare state in Korea
  • 5. Future challenges
  • References
  • (4) Micro-Policy Translation and Policy Entrepreneurship in the Transformation of Korean Welfare Capitalism
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Structures of policy translation and types of policy translators
  • 3. Macro-level policy translations and discursive contests
  • 3.1 The dominant ideology on unemployment benefits and negative policy translation
  • 3.2 The emergence of discursive contests and competition in policy translations
  • 4. Micro-level policy translation and policy entrepreneurship
  • 4.1 The resources of policy entrepreneur R.
  • 4.2 R.’s previous experience in policy translation
  • 4.3 Policy entrepreneurship: Self-initiative and resource mobilization
  • 4.4 Policy translation: Evaluating and mixing
  • 4.5 Translation as persuasion: Coping with opponents
  • 4.6 The limits of policy translation
  • 5. Discussion
  • References
  • Chapter 3 - The Translation of legal norms and ideas
  • (5) The Transplantation of the German Constitutional Provision on Political Parties in South Korea
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Legal transplantation and comparative legal sociology
  • 2.1 The meaning and methodology of comparative legal studies
  • 2.1.1 The diversity of comparative legal methods and the need to refine them
  • 2.1.2 The negative definition of comparative law
  • 2.1.3 The positive definition of comparative law: The socio-scientific perception of law
  • 2.1.4 The object of comparison
  • 2.1.5 Comparative law and legal history
  • 2.2 The transplantation and assimilation of law
  • 2.2.1 Problems of codification and assimilation
  • 2.2.2 The transplantation of law as a means of modernization
  • 2.2.3 The role of legal notables
  • 3. The social and legal background to the German and Korean constitutional provisions on political parties
  • 3.1 The structure of political parties in Germany and in Korea
  • 3.1.1 Democratic mass-based parties and their transformation into catch-all parties (Volksparteien) in Germany
  • 1) Before the Weimar Republic
  • 2) After World War Two
  • 3.1.2 Regime parties and notables’ parties (Honoratiorenparteien) in Korea
  • 3.2 The necessity of introducing a constitutional provision on political parties
  • 3.2.1 Germany: The collapse of one-party dictatorship and the reconstruction of democracy
  • 3.2.2 Korea: Overcoming the authoritarian system through the democratic revolution of April 1960, and the military coup d’état of May 1961
  • 1) Laws on political parties: The US army military government in Korea (USAMGIK) and the Rhee Syngman regime
  • 2) Laws on political parties: The Constitution of 1960
  • 3) The military coup d’état of May 1961
  • 4. The provision on political parties in the German constitution and its transplantation into the Korean Constitution of 1962
  • 4.1 The genesis of the German constitutional provision on political parties
  • 4.1.1 The Herrenchiemsee draft constitution
  • 4.1.2 Discussions in the Parliamentary Council (Parlamentarischer Rat)
  • 4.1.3 Evaluation
  • 4.2 The introduction of the provision on political parties into the Constitution of 1962
  • 4.2.1 The process of constitution making
  • 4.2.2 Discussions on the provision on political parties
  • 4.2.3 Theoretical background
  • 4.2.4 Evaluation
  • 5. Concluding remarks
  • References
  • (6) Legal Translations “Made In Korea”
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. From legal transplantation to legal translation
  • 2.1 Legal transplantation in theory
  • 2.2 Legal transplantation in practice
  • 2.3 Legal translation in theory
  • 3. From metaphor to method
  • 3.1 Theoretical considerations: constructive discourses, discursive constructions
  • 3.2 The analytical approach: tracking down translation
  • 4. South Korean translations of legal norms concerning political parties
  • 4.1 The horizontal dimension: legal translations made from scratch
  • A. Preliminary traces of legal norms
  • 4.2 The diagonal dimension – translational evolution over time
  • A. The period of authoritarian rule (1969~1986)
  • B. After formal democratization (1987~1997)
  • C. After Neoliberalization (1998~2010)
  • 4.3 The vertical dimension – translations in the process of adjudication
  • A. Registration requirements for political parties
  • B. The prohibition of party chapters
  • 5. Findings
  • 6. Discussion
  • References
  • Laws cited
  • Bills Cited
  • Decisions Cited
  • Appendix

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Eun-Jeung Lee / Hannes B. Mosler


“Policy moves, across time and space and in a number of other ways, too.
It is made in words, and words which move are translations.”


It has by now become almost commonplace in academic literature to note that processes of circulating knowledge, or epistemai, as well as dynamic transformations of institutions occur all over the world, and that they are more and more interactively connected to one another. There is a burgeoning research literature on internationalizing, globalizing, and supernationalizing ideas, knowledge, policies, and institutions. The field of operational research, in particular, has recently seen some very fruitful endeavors dealing with the question of how to describe, analyze, and explain the worldwide diffusion of ideas and knowledge on policy issues.

As is well known, previous academic literature attempted to approach these phenomena by understanding them as processes of “copying,” “transferring,” “teaching,” “learning,” “transmitting,” or “transplanting.” Recently, such approaches to analyzing the dissemination of policy ideas and policy decisions – in the form of policy transfer, policy learning, legal transplantation, and knowledge diffusion – have been challenged by the analytical concept of policy translation. The rationale behind this post-positivistic, conceptualized perspective is to improve on existing approaches by widening the scope of analysis to include dynamics and mechanisms that have not, so far, been properly addressed in spite of forming part of the dissemination process. Most of the still scarce literature on the translation concept bases its argumentation on a constructivist understanding that emphasizes aspects such as interactivity, intersubjectivity, and contingency. In so doing, this literature tries to go beyond understanding the complex process of dissemination merely as a phenomenon of “donating,” “receiving,” or “arbitrarily utilizing” policy ideas, norms, and laws. It speaks of the importance of context in trying to understand the manner in which ideas travel and in which they become modified, particularly when it comes to the manner in which their journey is connected to, and shaped by, wider political struggles.

What is policy translation, and what is it good for? What contribution can the concept of “translation” make to explaining the emergence of policy ideas and their travel across borders? Most importantly, how effective can it be in analyzing ← 7 | 8 → actual cases of policy dissemination? The chapters of this book will deal with these questions both on a general, theoretical level and within the context of policies and laws that have traveled in actual fact, namely between South Korea and Germany. South Korea is widely considered a typical example of a reforming country “receiving” policies and ideas from “more advanced” countries. It thus promises to be an especially interesting case for testing the applicability of the translation approach.

This book is based on contributions to a conference titled Lost or Found in Policy Translation?, which was held in Berlin from March 29 to 31, 2012 under the auspices of the Institute of Korean Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. The conference formed part of a research project called “Circulation of Knowledge and the Dynamics of Transformation: Korea and Beyond,” a project jointly conducted by the Institute of Korean Studies at Freie Universität Berlin and the Institute of Korean Studies at Ruhr-University Bochum, with funding provided by the Academy of Korean Studies (AKS)1. The project is led by professors Dr. Eun-Jeung Lee (Berlin), Dr. Marion Eggert, and Dr. Jörg Plassen (both Bochum).

The conference aimed to analyze the phenomenon of various actors in various contexts and settings adopting different interpretations of one and the same idea, with a particular focus on examining the degree to which the concept of “translation” could prove useful to such analysis. The first chapter of this publication sheds light on existing conceptions of policy translation, on their implications, potentials, and limits, while the second chapter examines the dynamics of the Korean social welfare system through the analytical lens of “translation.” The third and final chapter of this book focuses on the dissemination and implementation of legal ideas, policies, and norms as a form of “translation.”


Eun-Jeung Lee’s contribution opens the book’s discussion by dealing with the introductory, yet fundamental, topic of “Transfer of Knowledge as a Matter of Translation” in the context of unification policies in Germany and Korea. Discussing the exchange of knowledge and ideas on German unification between Korean and German politicians, scientists, and (other) policy actors, Lee challenges the notion that the difference in the situations of the two countries stands in the way of mutual cross-fertilization between Korea and Germany. More specifically, she sets out to examine whether it is “really true that there is no such ← 8 | 9 → thing as a successful transfer of policy between two countries with different traditions, institutions, and cultures.”

Having introduced some historic cases of successful intercultural transfer of knowledge and policies, Lee discusses the existing academic discourses on policy transfer. She then looks into the concept of “policy translation,” characterizing the act of translating a policy as a process consisting of four steps: problematization, selection, reduction, and mobilization. In her conclusion, Lee states that once policy transfer is interpreted not as a simple act of transfer, but rather is seen from the point of view of cultural translation, intercultural policy transfer becomes a real possibility, which, in the case of Korea, opens up the prospect of drawing on the German experience of unification in a meaningful manner.


Paul Stubbs’ contribution “Translating Welfare Assemblages in the ‘New’ Eastern Europe: Re-domaining the Social?” adapts the notion of “assemblage” so as to enrich the concept of translation in the literature on policy decision making. Referring to authors of various strands, Stubbs submits that the concept of “assemblage” is homologous to that of “translation,” thereby deepening the notion to include meanings such as “complex becoming and multiple determinations […] sensitive to time and temporality in the emergence and mutation of phenomena that should never be reified as final or stable states.” He attempts to develop a vocabulary, epistemology, and methodology that emphasizes “the interactions, the complexity, and the liminality of encounters between actors, sites, scales and contexts.” According to him, the concepts of “policy translation” and “assemblages” capture well the ways in which policy meanings are being constantly transformed, translated, distorted, and modified.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (January)
Politiktransfer Wohlfahrtspolitik Parteigesetz Wahlgesetz
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 164 pp.

Biographical notes

Eun-Jeung Lee (Volume editor) Hannes B. Mosler (Volume editor)

Eun-Jeung Lee holds a PhD in political science and is Full Professor and Head of the Institute of Korean Studies at Freie Universität Berlin (Germany). She has published several books in German on Korea and democracy, on Confucianism and its reception since the European enlightenment as well as on Confucianism and capitalism. Hannes B. Mosler holds a PhD in political science and is Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of East Asian Studies with focus on Korean politics at Freie Universität Berlin. His major research interests are political parties, political systems, constitutional law, and policy decision processes in Korea and comparatively.


Title: Lost and Found in «Translation»
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166 pages