Sample Essay On When Did South Korea Become A Democracy?
Type of paper: Essay
Topic: Democracy, South Korea, Nation, Government, Politics, President, Date, World
The exact date South Korea became a democracy is one that is not without some debate. Technically speaking the nation was supposed to be a democracy after the Korean War ended but the Korean presidents certainly did not rule in the traditions of democracy. For example, the nation’s first president Syngman Rhee was revolted against for the criminality of his regime in 1960 and forced to exile in Hawaii. While Park Chung Hee came to power through his position in the military and ruled repressively for 18 years before he was assassinated. Then there was Chung Doo Hwan’s rise to power in 1980 through a coup d’etat and was extremely repressive. The calls and protests for democracy commenced from June 10 to June 29, 1987. Most official accounts refer to 1987 as the year South Korea officially became a democracy. This paper will examine why the nation did not become fully democratic until the December 19, 2007 with the election of Lee Myung Bak as president.
Although South Korea has been officially referred to as a democracy since 1987 and democracy supposedly existed there long before the official date due to the influence of the United States, it did not truly become one until 2007. Why? South Korea has a long tradition of authoritarian government and elements of this had long been a part of their culture. It was difficult for them to understand the true concept of democracy. Therefore, the presidents paid lip service to the concept while going about their repressive regimes. For instance, Park was
assassinated although he instituted a constitution. Also, Chun and Roh were charged with treason and imprisoned while South Korea was officially a democracy. How can you call a nation democratic when their presidents are consistently jailed, exiled or killed? That does not fit most definitions of what the system means.
Another reason South Korea was not a democracy until 2007 was the amount of protest and revolt amongst the people. There certainly had valid reasons to oppose their form of governance as it was obviously corrupt, but it did not provide a sense of stability. Also, it was only specific classes of the people that supported democracy. It did not seem to be widespread and that was a direct result of how the South Korean economy as well as educational systems had advanced. In the 1960’s South Korea was one of the poorest nations in the world and were undergoing a vast transformation. With not all of the citizens truly modernized or at least well versed in what democratic government really meant, then true democracy was not present in South Korea.
So why 2007? That would be the date, the South Korean democracy consolidated itself by representing all factions from right to left wing and was widely accepted by the entire nation as the true form of government. Also, this election was the first that there had been no backdoor dealings between elite party members or handpicked successors to make a transition from one regime to the other. This election also included leftist elements which made the government truly progressive and fully democratic. It took two decades for South Korea to solidify democracy in the nation after declaring they were one, but for the last eight years they have proven a tremendous example for the rest of the world to follow.