1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Governance (2000 - 2009)

Democratization, Economic Policymaking, and Parliamentary Accountability in the Republic of Korea (Draft)



The current, “third wave” of global democratization has established a large family of new democracies in regions that were once widely viewed as inhospitable to democratic political development. Of the over five dozen in this family, the Republic of Korea (Korea hereinafter) is one of the most influential and analytically interesting. Unlike many third-wave democracies in other regions, this country has fully restored civilian rule and has made steady progress in expanding political rights and civil liberties. Of all the new democracies in Asia, it is the first country that has peacefully transferred power to an opposition party. Korea is also the only Asian new democracy that has recently been admitted to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It has politically weathered a devastating financial crisis at the end of 1997 and is now rebounding economically. As the most vigorous democracy in East Asia and the eleventh largest economy in the world, the country has often been described in the Western media and the scholarly community as an “East Asian model of prosperity and democracy.”