Change in South Korea
In South Korea and Taiwan, capital punishment has been highly open to change during the development and democratization processes, and its importance in those societies has been deeply political and symbolic. But the death penalty in these two jurisdictions can hardly be called a minor institution with “minuscule impact,” for democratic transitions in both places have pivoted on the imperative of distancing the present from a past in which capital punishment was a familiar feature of law and politics. This chapter and the next focus on two central questions. First, what explains the rapid decline of capital punishment in South Korea and Taiwan during the last decade and the purposeful pursuit of abolition in both places? And second, to what extent will South Korea and Taiwan become an Asian vanguard, leading other jurisdictions in the region on the road to life without the death penalty?
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