Two-Track Democracy in South Korea
The Interplay Between Institutional Politics and Contentious Politics
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Yun examines three ironic phenomena of South Korean democracy that have developed after its democratic transition in 1987. While the evaluation of South Koreaâ€™s political system by external institutions has steadily improved, peopleâ€™s trust in the nationâ€™s political system continues to decline. However, in the face of political distrust, unlike Western democracies, voter turnout has increased. Even though political participation and the political influence of citizens has been strengthened over time, the political influence of civic organizations that fostered the initial democratization movement in the 1980s has weakened, parallel to the decline in citizensâ€™ confidence in these organizations.
Why is South Korean democracy witnessing ironic phenomena that cannot be succinctly explained by existing theories of political development or democracy? Yun seeks these answers within the framework of a two-track democracy, that is, the interplay between institutional and contentious politics. A model of democracy that combines contentious politics with formal politics can shed light on this phenomenon. Yun proposed that the traditional hierarchical and elite-centered political system is no longer sustainable. In order to resolve the democratic deficiency perceived by citizens, it is necessary to consider a new model of democracy beyond the improvement of representative democracy. Moreover, the new model of democracy should be based on a fusion of institutional politics and contentious politics.
An essential contribution to the scholarship on South Korean democratization, that will be of great interest to scholars and students of democratization more broadly
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. The Beginnings of Democracy and Retreat to Authoritarian Regimes 3. Democratic Transition and Democracy in Deficit 4. Politics in the New Media Era: Concurrent progress of digital activism and institutional participation 5. The challenges posed by digital activism to political institutions 6. Explorations of new democracy models in the new media age 7. References
Seongyi Yun is Professor at the department of Political Science, and Dean of College of Politics and Economics at Kyung Hee University, Korea.