Transition and Transfer in Germany and South Korea
Edited By Eun-Jeung Lee and Hannes B. Mosler
Voyage through Uncharted Waters: Challenges for Korean Civil Society in Times of Turbulent Democracy
This essay is concerned with democracy and civil society after democratization in South Korea. It analyses the structure and characteristics of Korean civil society and sheds light on its assumed role of productive critic in the democratized political system. The study’s key contention is that the most significant change in civil society’s organization after democratization is its fragmentation. This phenomenon can be found also many other countries in Eastern Europe especially those that subsequently experienced regime change.
Civil society has long been recognized as a leading and vibrant part of public life in Korea. Influential and high profile though it may have been, civil society is now said to be sailing through uncharted waters after the Lee Myung-Bak (Yi Myŏng-bak) government came to power in 2008. Keeping in mind this background, this chapter intends to describe and analyze the following issues. First, it will present a general outline and the salient features of civil society in the post-democratization period. Building on insights from existing literature on the subject, it will identify characteristics of Korean civil society and clear the ground on which later discussions can be played out on. Secondly, an attempt will be made to survey the present state of affairs of civil society. A composite picture of civil society after the Lee government is drawn, using structural, institutional, ideational and psychological criteria. Third, it will ask which factors are most responsible for the current state of affairs of civil society. It is argued...
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