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Korean Democracy in Transition

A Rational Blueprint for Developing Societies

HeeMin Kim

Publication Year: 2011

As Asian countries emerge as global economic powers, many undergo fundamental political transformations. In Korean Democracy in Transition: A Rational Blueprint for Developing Societies, HeeMin Kim evaluates the past thirty years of political change in South Korea, including the decision of the authoritarian government to open up the political process in 1987 and the presidential impeachment of 2004. Kim uses rational choice theory—which holds that individuals choose to act in ways that they think will give them the most benefit for the least cost—to explain events central to South Korea’s democratization process. Kim’s theoretical and quantitative analysis provides a context for South Korea’s remarkable transformation and offers predictions of what the future may hold for developing nations undergoing similar transitions. Although there are studies in the field of Korean politics that provide an overview of this important period, there are none that offer the theoretical and analytical rigor of this study. Combining theoretical perspectives with policy-relevant discussion, Korean Democracy in Transition sheds new light on the Korean model of democratization and makes a significant contribution to the field of comparative politics.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Asia in the New Millennium

Front cover

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Copyright page

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pp. vii-vii

List of Illustrations

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pp. viii-viii

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pp. ix-ix

This book has been developed over the period of almost two decades. Because individual chapters were circulated and were presented as papers at various conferences, they have been exposed to numerous critics. As a result, I know that I am intellectually indebted to so many people, but am not sure to whom and for what. I deeply regret that I am unable to list ...


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pp. x-x

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1 Rational Choice, Area Expertise, and Democratic Transition in Developing Societies: A Theoretical Framework

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pp. 1-4

Rational choice refers to the application of microeconomic theory to various decision-making situations. It conceives of the individual as a goal-oriented actor who pursues the best available means to a given end (Booth et al. 1993; van Winden 1988). Rational choice theory assumes methodological individualism and purposeful action. According to ...

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2 Kims' Dilemma and the Politics of Rivalry: An Analysis of the Democratic Opening and the 1987 Presidential Election

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pp. 5-24

Two seemingly peculiar events took place in South Korea prior to the presidential election in 1987. In June the governing party candidate, Roh Tae-woo, who was practically assured of a win in an indirect presidential election, agreed to a constitutional amendment that would require a direct election of the president in Korea. It was expected that either one ...

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3 Building a New Party System: The 1990 Party Merger

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pp. 25-40

The thirteenth national assembly election in Korea, held in 1988 and governed by the new electoral law enacted earlier that year, produced a four-party system.1 These four parties were the governing DJP and the RDP, the PPD, and the New Democratic Republican Party (NDRP). In January 1990 the DJP, NDRP, and RDP merged to form the Democratic ...

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4 A Theory of Government-Driven Democratization

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pp. 41-52

The thirteenth National Assembly election in Korea in 1988, a democratic one, created a four-party system. Within two years, in January 1990, the Democratic Liberal Party was formed as a grand conservative coalition through a merger of three existing parties: the governing Democratic Justice Party (DJP) with military connections; the New Democratic ...

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5 Party Preferences and Institutional Choices: A Search for a New Electoral System

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pp. 53-70

The relationships between electoral systems, parties, and election out-comes have long been studied in political science. There have been theoretical studies of these relationships (see, for example, Duverger 1951; Riker 1982; Palfrey 1989) as well as empirical research (see Rae 1967; Taagepera and Shugart 1989; Lijphart 1990). These relationships have ...

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6 Uncertainty in Foreign Policy Making: Changing Relations among South Korea, North Korea, and the United States of America in the Twenty-First Century

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pp. 71-86

Bayesian (incomplete information) games are used to analyze situations where at least one player is uncertain about the others’ preferences. For the past decade or so, Bayesian models have been rigorously applied to various aspects of international relations involving uncertainty. They include international conflict, alliance formation, deterrence, domestic ...

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7 A Risky Game to Play: The Politics of the Impeachment Game in 2004

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pp. 87-100

On March 12, 2004, a stunning political event happened in South Korea when its national assembly impeached President Roh Moo-hyun, only a year into his term as president. The opposition parties, with over two-thirds of the seats in the assembly, decided to use their numerical strength only one month before the next national assembly elections. As a result of ...

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8 Concluding Remarks

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pp. 101-106

South Korea has been looked at as one of the countries to have gone through the process of democratic transition most successfully aft er a rapid economic development (apart from occasional scuffles among the members of the national assembly that we see on CNN).1 I have shown in this book that the process of democratic transition in Korea since 1987 ...

Appendix A: Solution for the Equilibrium of the South-North Bayesian Game

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pp. 107-108

Appendix B: Solution for the Equilibrium of the U.S.–North Korea Bayesian Game

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pp. 109-112


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pp. 113-122


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pp. 123-130


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pp. 131-135

E-ISBN-13: 9780813129952
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813129945

Page Count: 146
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Asia in the New Millennium
Series Editor Byline: Shiping Hua See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 739719107
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Korean Democracy in Transition

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Korea (South) -- Politics and government -- 1988-2002.
  • Democracy -- Korea (South) -- History.
  • Democratization -- Korea (South) -- History.
  • Korea (South) -- Politics and government -- 1960-1988.
  • Korea (South) -- Politics and government -- 2002-.
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