South Korean Democracy and Korea’s Division System
PAIK Nak-chung (Translated by Susan HWANG, with the collaboration of the author)
ABSTRACT Democracy is still the issue in South Korea. Under the Lee Myung-bak administration much of the progress in South Korean democracy since 1987 has been either interuupted or reversed. Yet such “reversal” actually represents a consistent and long-standing pursuit on the part of anti-democratic forces with deep roots in Korea’s division system. The division of the peninsula was consolidated into a kind of system with considerable powers of self-reproduction when the Korean War ended in a stalemate in 1953 and the armistice agreement was never replaced by a peace treaty. The result is an inherently anti-democratic political regime on either side. Democratization in the South did render a blow to, but did not abolish, this peninsula-wide system, so that anti-democratic forces have remained potent under the “1987 regime” and even succeeded in regaining political power in 2008 (under Lee Myung-bak). The idea of a “2013 regime” is to accomplish a change as momentous as in 1987 when the change of administration occurs in early 2013, which may pave the way for the overcoming of the division system itself. The essay concludes with some theoretical reflections on democracy as people’s self-rule.
Keywords: Korea, South Korea, Democracy, Division System, World-System, National Security Law, 2013 Regime