Civil Society on the Move

Transition and Transfer in Germany and South Korea

by Eun-Jeung Lee (Volume editor) Hannes B. Mosler (Volume editor)
©2015 Edited Collection 168 Pages
Series: Research on Korea, Volume 3


Following the transformation of the Soviet-controlled Eastern European system, there has been a renewal of discourses on civil society. The collection of essays discusses this complicated and controversial concept and explores the possibility of new approaches for the study of Korean civil society and democracy. Combining interdisciplinary and transregional research, it contributes directly to the field of democracy after democratization and sheds light on concepts of civil society, developments of various civil society organizations and student movements in Germany, Korea, and Eastern Europe.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Workshops on civil society
  • Outline of the volume
  • Acknowledgements
  • Chapter 1 – Challenges
  • Civil Society and Political Theory
  • Abstract
  • 1. Civil Society and social movements, especially in Eastern Europe
  • 2. Civil Society in the West
  • 3. Civil society in the Arab World
  • 4. Civil society and democracy: some interim results
  • References
  • Voyage through Uncharted Waters: Challenges for Korean Civil Society in Times of Turbulent Democracy
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. Basic contours of civil society
  • 3. Salient features of civil society in Korea
  • 4. Current state of affairs of civil society
  • 5. Factors responsible for the current state of affairs
  • 6. Venturing into a new path?
  • 7. Conclusion
  • References
  • A Global Perspective on 1968
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Revolutionary Peoples’ Constitutional Convention
  • 3. The International Movement in 1970
  • 4. Instances of the Global Eros Effect
  • References
  • Chapter 2 – Functions
  • Ideological Conflict in Civil Society and Korean Democracy in Trouble
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Growth of Civil Society in the Democratization Process
  • 2.1 Resistant Civil Society under the Authoritarian Regime
  • 2.2 Democratization and the Growth of Reform-oriented Civil Society
  • 3. The Emergence of Right-wing Organizations in Civil Society
  • 3.1 The Rise of the New Right Movements
  • 3.2 Networks and Ideologies of the Right-wing Organizations
  • 4. A Dual Antagonism under the Conservative Power
  • 4.1 Power Shift and the Deepening Crisis of Political Representation
  • 4.2 The “Candlelight” Protest in 2008
  • 4.3 Civil Society contra Civil Society
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References
  • Weak civil societies – either a legacy of state socialism or as produced by the transition stress? East Central Europe after 1989 in comparison
  • Abstract
  • 1. Starting point: two empirical observations and a theoretical consideration
  • 2. “Civil society” as an important driving force of the collapse of state socialism?
  • 3. Active citizenship as precondition of a functioning democracy
  • 4. The growing crisis of representation in East Central Europe
  • 5. Conclusion
  • References
  • The Pressure of “Dual De-institutionalization” and the Institutionalized Response of Social Movements in Korea
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. (De-)institutionalization of Social Movement and independent think tanks
  • 3. Antagonism of the Pressure of Dual De-institutionalization in Korea
  • 3.1 De-institutionalization from above
  • 3.2 Pressure from below: Agenda-setting, Communication Methods, Reform of Movement Methods
  • 4. The think tank ecosystem in the aftermath of democratization in Korea
  • 4.1 Government Think Tanks
  • 4.2 Corporate think tanks
  • 4.3 Party think tanks
  • 5. The emergence of independent think tanks
  • 6. Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 3 – Implications
  • Students as agents of democratization in German society: 1968 and the revival of the concept of Council Democracy
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. German universities after the war: “re-education” and the limits of democratization
  • 3. The Free University Berlin –product of the Cold War, model of democratization?
  • 4. The development of the SDS (Socialist German Student League) and its relation with the majority of students
  • 5. Theoretical orientations
  • 5.1 Consequent university democratization
  • 5.2 Back to the concept of council democracy
  • 5.3 A new Internationalism
  • 1968 and its Consequences in the GDR – Looking for Traces in the Cultural Field
  • Abstract
  • 1. The forgotten history of 1968
  • 2. Communist opposition against “Real Socialism” (Heiner Müller and Peter Hacks)
  • 3. Who will make the next revolution?
  • References
  • The Social Impacts of Student Movement in Korea
  • Abstract
  • 1. Introduction
  • 2. The Radicalization of Student Movements
  • 3. Paradox of leadership
  • 4. Beyond Dogma: Flexible Ideology, or Too Flexible?
  • 5. After Democratization
  • 6. Concluding Remarks: Historical Heritage
  • References

Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler


This book joins a long series of scholarly projects that attempt to unpack the complicated and controversial concept of civil society. Very few other political concepts have undergone more reformulations and reconfigurations than the concept of civil society. The debate that began back in ancient times, when civil society was conceptualized as societas civilis or politike koinonia, has now resurfaced in the contemporary world. The last several decades saw a resurgence of civil society discourses, particularly during and following the transformation of the Soviet-controlled Eastern European system. Against this backdrop, this volume begins with a series of questions designed to examine the concept of civil society organizations in all of its facets. What is and is not civil society? Which kind of components does civil society encompass? Are civil society organizations distinctive new phenomena, or do they merely reflect a repackaged form of more familiar organizations? To what extent is the boundary of civil society demarcated within the democratic political system? What kind of role can or should civil society organizations play within the democratic system? In what specific ways can civil society organizations impact the political principles of community, citizenship, social structure, the rulers and the ruled, authority, justice, and change, among others? Should entities such as transnational advocacy networks be considered part of any conventional democratic system at all? If not, do we need to expand upon, if not entirely re-imagine, our current theories on democratic politics and the state? What kind of interests do civil society organizations represent? What interactions or modes of action should civil society organizations adopt in order to achieve optimal outcomes in relation their stated objectives? What kinds of institutions are necessary in order for civil society organizations to function in a way to contributing to the public good?

Workshops on civil society

With these questions in mind, the Institute of Korean Studies at Freie Universität Berlin organized three workshops to consider civil society within ← 7 | 8 → the democratic system and, above all, map out the “politicity” of civil society from a new theoretical perspective. The first workshop was held in May 2009 under the title “Challenges for Korean Civil Society after Democratic Transformation – Experiences of the Post-Socialist Countries in Eastern Europe and Reunified Germany.” The second workshop, held in June 2010, went under the title “Location and Function of Civil Society within Democratic Systems,” while the third workshop in June 2011 was entitled “Actors of Civil Society: Student Movement and Civil Society.”

The first two workshops were an attempt to explore the possibility of new approaches for the study of Korean civil society and democracy by combining interdisciplinary and transregional research, thereby making a direct contribution to the field of “democracy after democratization.” In South Korea as well as countries in Eastern Europe, civil society was the driving force in the struggle against authoritarian regimes. The important role that civil society played in the transformation process has been a constant topic of academic discussion since the 1987 democratization of South Korea and the collapse of Eastern Europe’s socialist block. However, the fact that civil society is itself influenced by the democratization and undergoes its own changes has not yet received much attention. This leaves many important questions unanswered: What role does South Korean civil society play in democratic consolidation after the democratic transformation process? If one assumes that civil society is expected to play a different role than in the resistance movement against authoritarian regimes, how and to what extent do civil societies in South Korea and Eastern Europe meet these expectations? On one hand, civil societies in South Korea and Eastern Europe, as well as in reunified Germany, share the experience of being latecomers to democratization. On the other hand, South Korean civil society has not yet confronted the task of system transformation, unlike those of Eastern Europe and Germany. From the viewpoint of both North and South Korea, the experiences of Eastern European countries and reunified Germany are of special importance.

The third workshop focused on the actors of civil society, especially students and their movement in South Korea and Germany. Without a doubt, students played a decisive role in fighting against authoritarianism and dictatorship during the qualitative transformation of civil society – the generation of 1968 in Europe and the so-called 386-generation in South ← 8 | 9 → Korea. The most important impact of the students on European society in the 1970s and South Korea in 1987 was that they established a basis for civil society to become popularized. In this way, the student movements of Germany/Europe and South Korea became the roots of other civil movements. The aim of this workshop was to examine the student movements as a critical moment of development in civil society and to compare their impacts in Germany and South Korea. This study, therefore, was not limited to just the political influence of the student movements, but encompassed the broader social and everyday aspects of life. This workshop scrutinized the makeup and processes of the student movements occurring in the two divided nations, Germany and Korea, and considered what long-term impacts they may have (or will have) on unification. Moreover, it dealt with the issue of how student movements were conducted in times of “globalization,” and what role the main actors of 1968 and 1987 play in today’s civil societies. The ultimate question of this workshop was: Why was it the students? What was the actual power of specific student movements in specific places that cannot simply be explained by a more general attribute: the spirit of an ambitious youth?

Outline of the volume

This book is based on the contributions to the three Berlin workshops described above and is divided into three chapters dealing with challenges, functions, and influences of civil society. In the first chapter, Walter Reese-Schäfer (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen) analyzes the development of civil society in Western and Eastern Europe as well as in the Arab cultural region from a political theory perspective. While the existence of civil society does not guarantee democracy, it is difficult for a new democracy to form in places where civil society has not matured at all. Reese-Schäfer puts forward this key contention with valuable insight and in doing so identifies an important avenue for future research in regard to the interrelationship of civil society and democracy. Hyo-Che Cho (Sungkonghoe University) does this in his essay on democracy and civil society after democratization in South Korea. He analyses the structure and characteristics of Korean civil society and sheds light on its assumed role of productive critic in the democratized political system. His contention is ← 9 | 10 → that there are basic differences between the role of civil society before and after democratization. The most significant of these is of the fragmentation of civil society after democratization. This is true not only for Korea, but also for many other countries in Eastern Europe especially those that subsequently experienced regime change. In that sense, the analysis of the interrelationship between Korean civil society and democratization will provide useful insights for the role of civil society in other states experiencing regime change. George Katsiaficas (Chonnam National University) in his analysis sheds light on students’ movements and civil society from a global perspective. He emphasizes the fact that after the 1968 student movements, which were based on the common right to self-determination and international solidarity, ordinary people organized themselves in civil society movements all over the world leading to global resistance movements. Katsiaficas analyzes the arms reduction movement in the 80s, resistance movements in Asia in the 90s, resistance movements in 1989/90 in Eastern Europe, anti-war movements in 2003, and the Arab Spring and Occupy Movement in 2011 as a global development of resistance movements with roots in the earlier student movements.

In chapter two, Jin-Wook Shin (Chung-Ang University) analyses the ideological fragmentation process of Korean civil society after democratization. The division of civil society after democratization between conservatives and progressives was not a new phenomenon. During the authoritarian regimes, not all civil society organizations participated in the movement towards democratization, with various right-wing civil society organizations in fact supporting authoritarian rule. Dieter Segert (Universität Wien) analyses the function of civil society in Eastern European countries that experienced a crisis of representative democracy even after regime change. In Korea and many Eastern European countries, civil society organizations were the main force behind the collapse of the socialist regimes. After the initial regime change, however, civil society did not always play a positive role in the process of democratic consolidation. Segert sees the obsolete social welfare system as the main reason for this phenomenon. Il-Pyo Hong (MP Secretary, Korean National Assembly) analyzes the efforts of Korean civil society organizations to establish think tanks after democratization. He emphasizes that beyond their role of critical surveillance, such think tanks were able to systematically develop policy ← 10 | 11 → alternatives and actively participate in policy building processes with government authorities and political parties.


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2015 (March)
Zivilgesellschaft 1968 Demokratisierung Studentenbewegung
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2015. 168 pp.

Biographical notes

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

Eun-Jeung Lee is Head of the Institute of Korean Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her major research fields are intercultural history of political ideas and political culture in East Asia. Hannes B. Mosler is Assistant Professor at the Graduate School of East Asian Studies at Freie Universität Berlin. His major research interests are political parties, political systems, constitutional law, and policy decision processes in Korea.


Title: Civil Society on the Move
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170 pages