Tensions Between the Democratic Ideal and Reality: South Korea
The greater the gap between democratic ideals and reality, the greater the resulting tension. This chapter presents a model of tension in a new democracy and applies it to the Republic of Korea (South Korea), drawing on survey data from the 1997 New Korea Barometer. South Korea is particularly suitable for intensive analysis, since the level of mass education is high and commitment to democratic ideals is also high, yet the introduction of free elections in 1987 has produced a succession of presidents whose actions in government have fallen well short of the democratic ideal, leading to convictions on corruption charges. The political fallout of the abuse of power for personal gain was exacerbated in 1997 when the government faced the national humiliation of relying on the biggest International Monetary Fund loan in history to avoid financial collapse and the chapter concludes by considering demand‐driven pressure for reform.
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