POL215Y1 Chapter 1: Han and Chung: South Korea - Economic Management and Democratization

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Political Science
Vic Falkenheim

POL215 – Readings for Jan 27 South Korea: Economic Management and Democratization – Han and Chung • Han and Chungs argument was there are casual relationships between the authoritarian regime transitioning into democracy as well as other indications as to how the economy became so successful • It was not until 1992, Korea [South] became a democracy o And one of the richest in Asia • They actually made a constitution in 1948 but was in poverty by the aristocratic leader, Syngman Rhee until 1961 when Park Chung Hee , an authoritarian leader came to power • Park Chung Hee won over the government with his plans to stabilize the economy and economic growth • When he came to power, Park banned previous politicians to help develop a more “civilian” state o Made a new constitution with a presidential system but a weak legislature and built a Democratic Republican Party o 1962, he made a Five-Year Development plan ▪ This helped improve the economic growth and national security, but not political stability ▪ Examples of the plan includes, international trading, invest in chemical and heavy industries ▪ These ideas failed because of low export demands • Although many of his economic plans failed, what succeeded was his creation of a substantial middle class o This helped with the evolvement of the political system ▪ I think because Park didn’t focus much on improving the political system, rather more on economic, the rise of the middle class helps balance out the country’s needs [by improving the economy] • Park used the “Yushin Constitution” to strengthen his position , but only his • The constitution collapsed in 1979 when Park was assassinated by his chief assistant saying he tried to save the country from a revolutionary “bloodbath” o Koreans hoped for democracy after this • As a result of a strong economic growth and middle class, they were also influenced by the West for more ideas o Han argued that how Korea became so passionate about democratizing was more of the opposition parties all agreeing on uniting the country and get rid of Parks ideas • Three running leaders: Roh Tae Woo, Kim Dae Jung and Kim Young San o Roh Tae Woo was a very indecisive leader and had a weak government • By 1992, in the presidential elections Kim Young Sam won and created a campaign for “reform and change” o Which aimed at financial issues and corruption o However, he lost support after a few decades because his reforms had many consequences • In the end, they realize economic stability was most important and structural reform, which embraced labor • Overall, the argument is that the economic problems in Korea cannot be overcome in a short period of time, but requires transformation and improvement • Questions: o If there wasn’t a strong middle class, do you think democracy
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