Consolidating Democracy in Korea: Economy as Impetus, Corruption as Issue

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    Abstract

    The issues that frame the dynamic exchange between citizens' demands and the government's responsiveness are significant towards continued consolidation in Korea. We contend that while weak economic conditions contextualize initial democratization in Korea, the pressures of economic performance ease as political trust grows with democratic progression. That is, weak economic conditions in open economies such as Korea are fertile grounds for citizens' political challenges; with democratization, political trust buffers the political system from the pressures of economic performance. Systematic examination supports these arguments; however, the results also show that corruption corrodes political trust and the impact of corruption is increasing. These results are significant: first, it shows that democratization in Korea is robust to economic downturns, a useful insight in economic uncertainty. Second, it clarifies that political trust may displace economic performance in buttressing political development, which is relevant to Korea in particular and emergent democracies in general. Third, it highlights the priority task of tackling corruption for the consolidation of Korean democratization.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)517-544
    JournalKorea Observer
    Volume44
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

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