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Democratization in South Korea and Inter-Korean Relations

Author(s): Chien-peng Chung


Source: Pacific Affairs, Vol. 76, No. 1 (Spring, 2003), pp. 9-35
Published by: Pacific Affairs, University of British Columbia
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40023987
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Democratizationin South Korea


and Inter-KoreanRelations
Chung
Chien-peng

Introduction

is to highlight
a centralelementthatis
The purposeofthisdiscussion
in studieson SouthKorea'spoliciestowardNorthKorea:
oftenoverlooked
tiesbroughtaboutbythe political
the profoundeffecton inter-Korean
todemocracy.
ofSeoulin thelast16yearsfromauthoritarianism
evolution
in 1987,whenitheldits
ofdemocracy
SouthKoreacrossedthethreshold
contested
first
election,althoughitwasonlyin 1997that
freely
presidential
thepresidency.
Thisessayalsowishes
a leaderofan opposition
party
captured
makesa country
democratization
morelikely
toaddressthethesisofwhether
war.1
toengagein an inter-state
SouthKorea's DemocraticTransition

inSouthKoreainthemid-1980s
liberalization
wasnotprompted
Political
andsoft-liners
thepowerelite.Ifit
within
bya fatalsplitbetweenhard-liners
in civilsociety
to
wouldhavealliedwithmoderatefactions
were,reformers
forces
the
state
to
effect
a negotiatedor
attackthe conservative
within
rule.2Instead,themainimpetus
transition
from
authoritarian
came
"pacted"
overconfidence
and
miscalculation
about
fromtheauthoritarian
in,
regime's
whichinducedtheleadershipto allowpolitical
and stability,3
legitimacy
openingsthatled to the unintendedand unexpectedconsequencesof
a traditionally
and remobilizing
activecivilsociety.
Economic
rejuvenating
an
insufficient
often
considered
condition
though
important
development,
1 Thisargument
is thebasisofthearticlebyEdwardD. MansfieldandJackL. Snyder,
"Democ
Vol.20,No.l (Summer1995).
and theDangerofWar,"International
2ratization
Security,
2 For an extendeddiscussionof "pacted"transition,
see GuillermoO'Donnell, PhilippeC.
Rule:Tentative
and LawrenceWhitehead,Transitions
Conclusions
about
Schmitter
fromAuthoritarian
TheJohnsHopkinsUniversity
Uncertain
Democracies
Press,1986); and AdamPrzeworski,
(Baltimore:
in Transitions
in theStudyofTransition
to Democracy,"
Authoritarian
Rule:Prospect
"Problems
from
for
and LawrenceWhitehead(Baltimore:
ed. GuillermoO'Donnell, PhilippeC. Schmitter
Democracy,
TheJohnsHopkinsUniversity
Press,1986),pp. 47-63.
3

and democracy:
Democratic
transition
in SouthKoreaand theories
Hyug-BaegIm, Thestate,themarket,

(Seoul:Nanam,1994),pp. 269-71;and KyongRyungSong,"SocialOriginsofSouth


economy
ofpolitical
A socialmovementapproach,"in Newcurrents
in SouthKorean
Koreandemocratization:
and
politics
ed. Institute
forFarEasternStudies(Seoul: Nanam,1994),pp. 110-5.
society,

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Volume16,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

fordemocratization,
middleclassthat
createdan articulate
andprosperous
demandedmorepolitical
In SouthKorea,bythemid-1980s,
a quarter
rights.4
ofeconomicgrowth
hadincreased
thesizeofboththemiddle-income
century
labourforce,5
whowerepolitically
conscious,
groupand thewage-earning
resentful
and
ofthegovernment's
influence
overtheirlivesandbusinesses,
assertive
abouttheirrights.
Economicadvancesalsopositioned
SouthKorea
aheadofNorthKoreainterms
In themindsofmany
ofdefensecapabilities.
of a NorthKorean
Koreans,thischangegreatlyreducedthe possibility
andaccordingly
raisedquestions
aboutthegovernment's
invasion,
frequent
useofnationalsecurity
societalpeace,andtojustify
forpreserving
arguments
and popularpolitical
measuresagainstcivilliberties
coupsand repressive
participation.6
In thepresidential
electionofDecember1987,whichdefined
thecountry's
transition
to democracy,
human
intellectuals,
students,
rightsand labour
and
other
civic
activists,
rights
clergymen,
professionals
groupssupported
twoleadingopposition
Kim\bungSamandKimDaejung,against
candidates,
thegovernment
vote
candidate,RohTae-woo,butbecausetheopposition
wassplit,therulingpartysecureda slimvictory.
with
the
even
However,
in
of
Kim
in
Sam
the
1992
election,many the
victory
Young
presidential
urbanpoor,new-middle
ofthe
andworking
classestendedtobe suspicious
commitment
oftheold-middle
and upper-middle
classesto thedefenseof
andsocialjustice.7
fromthefirst
threeclassesthushoped
Activists
democracy
to guardagainsta potentialreturnto authoritarian
rulebyarguingfor
reduce
theability
ofthe
with
this
would
engagement Pyongyang,
thinking
stateto use NorthKoreaas a threatwithwhichto manipulate
publicfear
in December
and perception.
The electionofKimDae-jungas president
1997bolsteredtheconfidence
ofthosein politicalcirclesand civilsociety
4 SeymourMartinLipset,Political
Man - TheSocialBasesofPolitics
NY:Doubleday
(GardenCity,
& Company,1960), chapter2. Lipsetfindsa strongco-relationbetweeneconomicand political
butothertheorists
likeSamuelHuntington
cautionthatcountries
"donotautomatically
development,
becomedemocratic
whentheyreacha certainlevelofmaterial
. .. Institutional
andpolitical
well-being
factors
constitute
a secondinfluenceon theprocessofdemocratization."
See SamuelP.Huntington,
inPolitical
inTaiwan,
eds.Tun-jenChengandStephanHaggard(BoulderCO:Lynne
"Foreword,"
Change
Rienner,1992),p. x.
5 Surveysin the mid-1980sshowedthatmore than70 percentof SouthKoreansidentified
themselves
as membersof the "middleclass,"whilethe wage-earning
labourforceincluded49.5
in
percentof the totalpopulation.See Chung-siAhn,"EconomicDimensionsof Democratization
SouthKorea,"inDemocratization
inSoutheast
andEastAsia,ed. AnekLaothamatas(Singapore:Institute
ofSoutheastAsianStudies,1997),p. 246.
6 Sung-joo Han and Oknim Chung, "South Korea: Economic Management and
- Political
in DrivenByGrowth
in theAsia-Pacific
ed.JamesW.Morley
Democratization,"
Change
Region,
NY:M. E. Sharpe,1999),p. 216.
(Armonk,
i A snapshotof the politicalbehaviour,self-conceptions,
viewson democracy,
supportfor
socialmovements
and ideas aboutsocietyoftheKoreanmiddleclassis providedin theresultsofa
"
nationalsurveyconductedin 1992 byKyong-Dong
Kim.See Kyong-Dong
Kim, Social Attitudes
and PoliticalOrientations
of theKoreanMiddleClass,"in EastAsianMiddleClassesin Comparative
ofEthnology,
AcademiaSinica,
ed. Hsing-Huang
MichaelHsiao (Taipei,Taiwan:Institute
Perspective,
1999), pp. 243-56.

10

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Relations
in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Democratization

the
whowantedto putoutpeace feelersto theNorth,butalso augmented
andsecurity
who
ofmanyinSouthKorea'sgovernment
apparatus
suspicion
wereraisedto regardNorthKoreaas an implacablefoe.Unsurprisingly,
withtheNorthare on thewholelesstensethan
then,althoughrelations
dependingon whois in
theyused to be, theyhavebecomemoreerratic,
SouthKoreaand itsrelations
withtheNorthat the
chargeofdemocratized
moment.
Foreignpolicymakingin post-changesocieties

and capitalist
blocs
betweenthesocialist
theeasingoftensions
Although
in thelate 1980sprovidedtheexternalcontextin whichtheforeignand
reunification
policymaking
policiesofSouthKoreawerecarriedout,foreign
theirownprocesses
anddynamics.
Hence
intransitional
democracies
follow
in regimetype
therelationship
betweenalterations
itis necessary
toclarify
theinfluence
oftheformer
on the
and foreign
policychanges,especially
latter.
AsexplainedbyTongWhunPark,Dae-WonKo and Kyu-Ryoon
Kim,
state
and
the
the
relations
between
democratization
society,
changes power
interests
and
and
the
security
perceptions,
country's
regime'spolitical
all ofwhichin turnalterforeign
ideologyand valuesystems,
legitimizing
and
Thisessayattempts
to
structures
decision-making
processes.8
policy
illustratethisargumentbyPark,Ko and Kim,by tracingthe effectof
ofSouthKorea
on changestotheforeign
democratization
policybehaviour
NorthKorea.Unlikein thedaysofauthoritarianism,
towards
foreign
policy
on thegrounds
couldnolongerbe anyofthefollowing:
de-politicized
making
or military
dominated
ofeconomicefficiency
security;
bya singleleaderin
fashion
withlimitedinputfromintelligence
a highly
agencies
personalized
or accordedtoppriority
as a questby
and theleader'sownsecretarial
staff;
or enemiesto buttress
itsown
theregimeto seekout ideologicalfriends
affairs
decisionsin theopen,
insecuredomestic
moorings.9
Makingforeign
in timesof changeto long-standing
international
politicaland
especially
turnedinter-Korean
interaction
intoa moresalient
economicrelationships,
be. Thisis particularly
true
topicofpublicdebatethanitwouldotherwise
ofreducedstateautonomy
vis-a-vis
forSouthKoreain a situation
society,
withtheriseofsocialforcesthatcouldmaketheirimpactfeltinthecreation
in Northeast
ofpolicies.[In thelongterm,democracy
Asiamay
orrevision
This
world. accordswiththedemocratic
wellbringabouta morepeaceful
very
do notfight
which,in itscrudestform,
saysthatdemocracies
peace theory,
8 TongWhanPark,Dae-WonKo and Kyu-Ryoon
and ForeignPolicy
Kim,"Democratization

- How Governments
Change in the East Asian NICs," in ForeignPolicyRestructuring
Respondto Global

ed. JerelA. Rosati,Joe D. Hagan and MartinW. SampsonIII (Columbia,SC: University


of
Change,
SouthCarolinaPress,1994),pp. 170-4.
9 Parket al.,"Democratization
and ForeignPolicyChangein theEastAsianNICS,"pp. 169-70.

11

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Volume16,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

each other.10In the shortterm,however,makinggovernments


more
accountable to interestgroups and public opinion introducesnew
uncertainties
andlimits
ofdiplomacy.
tothepractice
Edward
complications,
Mansfield
andJackSnyder
havearguedthatdemocratizing
statestendtobe
orwar-prone,
becausemembers
ofbotholdandnewelitesoften
belligerent
resort
tonationalist/ideological
themassestohelpdefend
appealstomobilize
theirthreatened
andtostakeoutnewones.Theyhavethenrealized
positions
thatthemasses,
oncemobilized,
aredifficult
tocontrol.11
Elitesexploittheir
tocreatefait
institutions
ofincomplete
democracies
powerintheimperfect
controlpoliticalagendasand shapemediacontentin waysthat
accomplis,
in the
lobbiesor surgesof militancy
promotebelligerent
pressure-group
this
as
a case
While
draws
on
transitional
South
Korea
populace.12
essay
to
illustrate
that
democratization
has
a
definite
on
study
impact foreign
policy,
it also showsthatthisimpactmayactuallyfavourpoliciesthatreduce
international
ratherthanexacerbate
and
tension,
it,as positedbyMansfield
This
submits
to
that
whether
a
state
will
want
Snyder. essay
democratizing
courtconflict
withanotherstatedoesnotdependonlyon theelite'sefforts
to shore up its legitimacy
card
by playingthe nationalist/ideological
to
Mansfield
and
this
is
the
main
mechanism
(according
Snyder,
through
whichdemocratization
causeswar). Rather,
italsodependson whatexactly
thesenationalist/ideological
as theyarearticulated
by
positions
represent,
thedemocratizing
elite.Thiselitefindsconsonance
withitsmassconstituents.
The external
statewillbecomemorecooperative
policiesofa democratizing
if the elite promotesthe pacific preferencesof newlyempowered
constituencies.
On theotherhand,iftheeliteadvocatestheintransigently
nationalistic
or ideologicalviewsofpoliticized
massgroups,thesepolicies
arelikelytobecomemoreconfrontational.
Beforethefollowers
ofthetwomainpro-democracy
KimYoung
figures,
Samand KimDaejung,joinedforcesin 1985toforma sizeableopposition
bloc in theNationalAssembly,
in SouthKoreawas
politicalcompetition
dominated
small
and
and
ineffective
by
groupswhich
right-wing centre-right
weresanctionedbytheregimewhentheywerenotbannedoutright.
The
activities
ofcivicgroupsthatpressedfordemocracy,
socialjusticeandhuman
weretightly
restricted
andclass-based
and
rights
bythegovernment,
politics
theadvocacyof detentewithNorthKoreawerestrictly
Since
proscribed.
inthepolitical
or"progressive"
forces
then,participation
bysupposed"leftist"
of
South
Korea
has
and
process
legitimized
popularizedthe hitherto
10 Fora comprehensive
reviewofthe"democratic
literature,
peace theory"
especiallyofitscore
thatdemocraciesdo notfighteach other,seeJamesLee Ray,Democracy
andInternational
proposition
AnEvaluation
PeaceProposition
ofSouthCarolina
(Columbia,SC: University
Conflict:
oftheDemocratic
Kills(Newark,
Press,1995);RudolphJ.Rummel,Power
Publishers,
1997),pp. 103-15;
NJ:Transaction
and SpencerWeart,Never
at War(NewHaven,CT: YaleUniversity
Press,1998).
" International
11 EdwardD. Mansfield
andJackL. Snyder,
"Democratization
andtheDangerofWar,
Vol.20,No.l (Summer1995),p. 7.
Security,
12 Mansfieldet al., "Democratization,"
p. 7.

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Relations
in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Democratization

relations
withNorthKorea.Furthermore,
ormutedcallsforbetter
suppressed
or socialistic
studentand labourgroupsof social-democratic
intellectual,
ofthe
beenseenbythepublicas theembodiment
orientations
havealways
and nationalism.
Theirpolitical
traditional
spiritofSouthKoreanpacifism
inclusionand theconsequentcompetition
amongthepoliticalelitestowin
stance
overtheirvoteshaveled to theadoptionofa moreaccommodating
SouthKorea,as we shallsee,
bySeoul towardtheNorth.In democratized
RohTae-woo,KimYoungSamand KimDae^jungeach pursued
Presidents
in hopingto engageNorthKoreaand defuse
ratherdifferent
strategies
notso muchbecausepublicopinionon
tensionon theKoreanpeninsula,
butrather
becauseoftheleaders'
relations
was
inter-Korean
divided,
radically
coalitions.
histories
and
different
support
political
In addressinga related suggestionby Mansfieldand Snyderthat
statesbecause one of its
democraticpeace maycollapsein transitional
is
itbearspointing
institutions
absent,13
functioning
preconditionsstable,
state
outthatSouthKoreaalreadyhadrather
well-developed bureaucracies
made
thedemocratization
which
and representative
institutions,
process
It also
withsimilarsettings.
therea lotlesschaoticthanin manycountries
to
much
less
on
Korean
needed
that
South
meant,arguably,
rely
politicians
in
order
to
to
the
masses
establish
orideological
reckless
nationalistic
appeals
theirauthority.
ormaintain
Sources of Change in Inter-KoreanRelations

of
oftheSixthRepublic,withtheinauguration
Sincethepromulgation
in February
theRoh Tae Woo presidency
1988,SouthKoreandemocracy
as describedbyJosephA.
ofa proceduraldemocracy,
has metthecriteria
A.Dahlandotherscholars:
as specified
ora polyarchy,
byRobert
Schumpeter,
freeand fairelections,
universal
adult
towit,a politicalregimepracticing
and a freepress.14
civilliberties
However,
competition,
suffrage,
multiparty
manySouthKoreansaspireto a definitionof democracythatis more
Theywould subscribeto C. B. Macpherson'sideal of
comprehensive.
democratic
mustencourage
substantive
whichpositsthata truly
system
justice,
13 Mansfield
et al., "Democratization,"
p. 22.
14 RobertA. Schumpeter,
andDemocracy
Socialism
(NewYork:Harper& Row,1942);
Capitalism,
RobertA. Dahl,Polyarchy
Press,1971); LarryDiamond,"Consolidating
(NewHaven:YaleUniversity
and SocialScience
in theAmericas,"
AnnalsoftheAmerican
550 (March
Academy
ofPolitical
democracy
definesa politicalentityas a democracy,
"to the
1997): pp. 12-41.SamuelP. Huntingtonsimilarly
are selectedthroughperiodicelectionsin
extentthatitsmostpowerfulcollectivedecision-makers
all theadultpopulationiseligibleto
whichcandidatesfreely
competeforvotes,and inwhichvirtually
oftheterm"democracy,"
willrequirethepresenceofthe
vote."An operationaldefinition
therefore,
whichisgovernedbytheinstitutional
rulesand mechanisms
regimeand oppositionforcesin a society
of politicalpowervia a processof elections.See Samuel P.
fora peacefuland orderlytransfer
PoliticalScience
"WillMore CountriesBecome Democratic?"
Vol. 99 (1984),
Quarterly,
Huntington,
p.194.

13

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

the fulldevelopmentof humancapacitiesin all people, notjust a few


mustbecomethepoliticalmeansfor
ones,and thatdemocracy
privileged
theredress
ofhumaninequality,
especially
unequaleconomicdistribution.15
is mostly
economicdemocracy,
Theybelievethat,without
politicalequality
meaningless.
Thisbeliefis borneout in a pioneernation-wide
conductedin
survey
ofdemocracy
toSouth
1989,whichfoundthatthemostpopulardefinition
to byfully
one-third
oftheinterviewees,
wasone of
Koreans,as subscribed
as a society
inborn
whichcanbe interpreted
withfewer
"equalopportunities,"
ofthe
and
less
economic
or
privileges
Three-quarters
politicalcorruption.16
in
to
a
South
wanted
see
"welfare
state
respondents
democracy"
developed
headed
atthattimebythemajoropposition
Korea,a causechampioned
party
Kim
the
of
the
that
by
Daejung.17Seventy
percent
respondents
accepted
in
for
influence
of
the
US
South
Korea
constitutes
a
hindrance
political
as
of
the
Americans
are
to
be
democracy,
widely
perceived supporters military
ofthepast.18
dictatorships
As HyugBaeg Im pointedout,SouthKorea'spoliticalbattleground
has
- to replaceauthoritarianism
shiftedfroma "warof movement"
witha
- toa moredrawn-out
electedgovernment
"warofposition"
democratically
toconstruct
accountable
institutions
and
a
sound
civil
society.19
representative
The young,thoseon theideologicalleft,and peoplefromtheprovinces
of
Northand SouthChollawhofeela senseofdis-empowerment
withtheold
whichhad favored
theelitefromtheTaegu-Kyongsang
system
regionsince
1961supporta nationallegislature
thatismoreresponsive
totheelectorate
andmorepowerful
vis-a-vis
thepresidency.20
Manywouldalsoliketoreform
SouthKorea'spoliticalparties,whichstilllack concreteorganizational
structures
andspecific
toserveas
ofaction,andexistprimarily
programmes
machines
and
for
their
who
leaders,
platforms
operateregionalpolitical
moreoftenthannothavetofendoffchargesofcorruption.
Thisis nottheplace to go intodetailaboutinstitutional
reform
ofthe
ingeneral.
SouthKoreanpoliticalsystem,
orthedevelopment
ofcivilsociety
it bearsmentioning
thatforceson thelefthalfof thepolitical
However,
to the
have
tied
the
realization
ofsubstantive
spectrum
always
democracy
eradicationof thevestigesof authoritarianism
in thepolitical,economic
15 C. B. Macpherson,
Democratic
(Oxford:ClarendonPress,1973),pp.
Theory:
EssaysinRetrieval
3-8,78-96.

16 Geir Helgenen, DemocracyAnd Authority


in Korea - The CulturalDimensionin KoreanPolitics

(Surrey:CurzonPress,1998),p. 73.
17 Helgenen,Democracy,
p. 83.
18 Helgenen,Democracy,
p. 86.
19 HyugBaeg Im, "SouthKoreanDemocraticConsolidationin Comparative
in
Perspective,"
inSouthKorea(Boulder,CO: Lynne
Kim,ed., Consolidating
LarryDiamondand Byung-kook
Democracy
Reinner,2000) p. 21.
20 Doh C. Shin,MassPolitics
andCulture
inDemocratizing
Korea(Cambridge:
CambridgeUniversity
Press,1999),p.l53.

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Democratization
in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations

stemfromtheuneasy
andsocialfabricofSouthKoreanlives.Thesevestiges
soldiersin South
withNorthKorea,thepresenceofAmerican
relationship
oftheNationalSecurity
Korea,and theretention
Law,thatstilltechnically
oftheUS. In thisreasoning,
if
bansanypraisesoftheNorthor criticisms
orindeedworsen,
relations
withtheNorthdo notimprove
theUS military,
widelyperceivedas the mostprominentbackerof South Korea's past
wouldhaveeveryreasonto stay.Thiswouldprovidefertile
dictatorships,
tendenciesofSouthKoreansto again
groundforthelatentauthoritarian
manifestthemselves,withthe potentialto stop or even reversethe
madeso faron thedemocratization
front.In orderforthe
achievements
- whichwasgivena voiceafter
thedemocratic
left
political
openingin1987and reinforcing
itwillneed a
to realizeitsgoal ofprotecting
democracy,
in relations
withtheNorth.
breakthrough
totheauthoritarian
SouthKoreancivilsociety
rules
developedinreaction
In
national
such
a
it
is
natural
forcivicorganizations
atthe
level.
to
context,
tothedemocratization
ofnational
theiractivities
either
direct
politics,
directly
In the 1980s,Koreanstudents,
workers
and youthsbrought
or indirectly.
ofpoliticaland social
intothepublicspacean autonomousconfiguration
themediation
ofminjung
andpraxis,21
through
(people's)ideology
protests
leftCatholic
whichis an eclecticblend of nationalism,neo-Marxism,
economicviews,
anti-nuclear
andpeace
liberation
theology,
anti-dependency
in
and
national
reunification
manifested
the
formof
demands,
slogans,
militantmass actionand civildisobedienceaimed at overturning
the
In
activists
military
dictatorship.22 1987,minjung
American-supported
founded the prominentleft-wing
Sinmun,an
newspaperHankyoreh
of
advocate
with
the
North.
outstanding
rapprochement
andorganizations
inpromoting
involved
Examplesofradicalmovements
and cooperation
thatcameintobeingwiththe
inter-Korean
reconciliation
of civilsocietyafterJune29, 1987 includedthe National
resurrection
Associationfor Democracyand National Reunification,the Korean
theCitizen'sCoalitionforEconomic
Federationof StudentAssociations,
the
forParticipatory
and
"UnJustice,
People's Solidarity
Democracy.23
or "underground"
tradeunions,organizedbylabouractivists
authorized"
and more
seekinga moreequitablesharein thenation'seconomicgrowth
had
made
their
for
workers,
already
appearanceduringtheChun
rights
Doo Hwanyears.Seeingthattheirdemandfordemocratization
wasfinally
about
and
ultra-nationalist
changes,left-leaning
bringing
groups,including
umbrella
labourgroupsliketheKoreanConfederation
ofTrade
"progressive"
21 BruceCummings,
and CivilSocietyin Korea,"inJamesF. Hollifieldand Calvin
"Democracy

Jillson,eds., PathwaystoDemocracy:ThePoliticalEconomyofDemocraticTransitions(New York:Routledge,

2000),p. 143.
22 JohnKie-changOh, Korean
Politics.(Ithaca:CornellUniversity
Press,1999),p.88.

23 See Dae-Yup Cho, A StudyofSocialMovements


and Typological
Changesin MovementOrganizations

inKorea
1987to1994,Ph.D. dissertation,
ofSociology,
KoreaUniversity,
1995.
from
Department

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

to theissueofnationalunification,
Unions,beganto shifttheirattention
orrefocus
theawareness
hopingalsotouseitas a moralcompasstoredirect
and energy
ofthefracturing
labourunionsand civicgroupswiththeireverandautonomous
ofthedissident
narrowing
agenda.Members
intelligentsia
unionswholedprotests
oftheestablished
andstrikes
toraisea moralcritique
orderin SouthKoreacontinuedwellintotheKimYoungSampresidency,
and someofthedissidents
evenembracedthejuche(self-reliance)
ideology
ofNorthKorea'sKimII Sungin a showofpoliticalprotest
and ideological
defiance.24
In electionsforthepresidency
and NationalAssembly
since1987,the
of
headed
the
most
"radical"
or
politicalparties
by
"populist" SouthKorean
Kim
of
the "SunshinePolicy"of
architect
politicalleaders,
Dae-jung,
receivedbetweenonetoward
North
Korea,consistently
rapprochement
It
to
of
a
two-fifths
the
minority.
quarter
popularvote,certainlysubstantial
seemsthatthe regionalfactoris not onlyverysalientto SouthKorean
domesticpolitics;it also colourspeople'sperceptiontowardtheNorth.
fromtheChollaregionweremorelikely
torespondfavourably
Respondents
toa recentsurvey
Koreangovernment
whether
trusted
the
North
asking
they
thanwereresidents
SouthKoreans
fromoutsideoftheregion.25
Moreover,
whofavourtheNorthKoreangovernment
are foundto be morelikelyto
supportNGOs and relyon NGO leaders,but are also likelyto distrust
government,
politicalparties,the military,
police,the courts,banksand
industrial
NGOs
and
theirleadersareperceived
corporations.26
Obviously,
to be morepro-North
thanthepowerholdersin
Koreaand "progressive"
and
institutions.
state,party quasi-governmental
The endorsement
ofdemocratic
institutions
bySouthKoreansis more
oftenthannotaccompaniedbya choiceofauthoritarian
solutions.
Despite
theadventof politicalcompetition
in thecentraland local governments
and the expansionof space forcivilsociety,the informalpracticesof
socialandcultural
theauthoritarian
norms,
favours,
politicians
exchanging
and theinfluence
on the
oftheoligarchic
chaebol
(financial
conglomerates)
labour
from
the
have
remained
intact.
The
exclusion
of
government
largely
the
coalition
left
under
and
the
of
the
non-violent
governing
suppression
NationalSecurity
LawcontinueduntiltheKimDae-jungpresidency.
Even
as lateas 1997,Doh ChullShinfoundthat,amongdemocrats
whosupported
24 On theideologicaltrendsofSouthKorea'sdissidentintellectual
movements
after1980,see
Cho Hui Yeon,"Sahwaegusongchenonjaenguibansongkwa
nonjaenguichulbaljom"
gusipnyondae
review
ofideologicalpolemicson theconstitution
and a newbeginning
ofdebates
ofsociety
(A critical
forthe1990s),Gil(December1992),p. 187.
25 Chae-hanKim,"Whoin SouthKoreaTrustNorthKoreaand WhoTrusttheUnitedStates?"
TheKorean
Vol.XIV,No.2, Fall 2002,p.135. The surveydata used hereis
JournalofDefense
Analysis,
conductedbyGallupKoreafromJune22 through
July4, 2001,on 1002 randomly
sampledSouth
Koreanadultsinterviewed
face-to-face.
26 Kim,"Whoin SouthKoreaTrust,"
pp.137-8.

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Democratizationin SouthKorea and Inter-Korean


Relations

ofrepresentative
theelectoralinstitutions
thosewhorefused
to
democracy,
methodsoutnumbered
thosewhodidrejectthembya
rejectauthoritarian
marginof fiveto one.27Accordingto theKoreanDemocracyBarometer
public-opinionsurveyof 1999,28althoughnine out of tenKoreansare
totheideaofdemocracy,29
somewhat
inclined"inprinciple"
the
favourably
non-democratic
publicexhibitsa residualpreferenceforauthoritarian
akintotheportrait
oftraditional
"Confucian"
or "Asian"
values.
principles,
morethanhalftheKoreanpublicconsiders
toalways
Onlyslightly
democracy
be the bestformof government,30
and ifthechoiceis eithereconomic
fares
ordemocracy,
chose
security
democracy evenlesswell.Forty-five
percent
thana "democratically
"rulebya dictator
likeParkChungHee"rather
elected
as the "bestwayto sortout theeconomicproblemsfacingthe
president"
It
isamongthisgroupof"authoritarian
whodistrust
democrats,"
country."31
NorthKoreaandsupport
theUS forces'presenceinSouthKorea,thatcritics
found.
ofthe"Sunshine
Policy"arelargely
The Impactof Democratizationin SouthKorea on Inter-KoreanRelations
RelationsBeforeDemocratization
Inter-Korean

inSeoulonAugust
TheRepublicofKorea,orSouthKorea,wasestablished
15,1948,and theDemocratic
People'sRepublicofKorea,orNorthKorea,
inPyongyang
on September
theKorean
wasproclaimed
8,1948.Throughout
oftheFirstRepublic
War,whichlastedfrom1950to 1953,anduntilthe_end
in1960,theofficial
unification
policyoftheSouthunderPresident
Syngman
Rhee (Yi SungMan) waspukchin
t'ongil("marchnorthforunification"),
to the legitimacy
of the Republicof Korea as the
withno compromises
ofallKorea.32
TheNorthKoreans'initial
proposalforunification
government
fromSouthKorea,afterwhich
be withdrawn
wasthatforeigntroopsfirst
Koreatoestablish
an equal numberof
elections
wouldbe heldthroughout
frombothsides,whowouldattenda nationalconference
to
representatives
NorthKoreanPresident
workouta unifiedadministration.33
Subsequently,
of a ConfederalRepublicof Koryo,
KimIl-sungsuggestedtheformation
theseparatepolitical
anddiplomatic
whichwouldpreserve
systems
standings
27 Doh ChullShin,"Evolution
in LarryDiamondand Doh
ofPopularSupportforDemocracy,"
and Democratic
Consolidation
in Korea(Stanford,CA: Hoover
Chull Shin,eds., Institutional
Reform
Institution
Press,1999),pp. 246-7.
28 The KoreanDemocracy
Barometer
waslaunchedin 1988.Sincethen,eightnation-wide
sample
of the SouthKorean populationhave been conducted,focusingon the breadth,depth,
surveys
and stability
ofmasssupportfor,and involvement
in,democratic
duration,durability
politics.
29 Yun-hanChu,LarryDiamondand Doh ChullShin,"HaltingProgressin Koreaand Taiwan,"
inJournal
12 (January
2001),p. 127.
ofDemocracy
30 Chu et al., "HaltingProgress,"
p. 124.
31 Chu et al., "HaltingProgress,"p.127.
- Contemporary
32 Donald StoneMacdonaldand Donald N. Clark,TheKoreans
Politics
andSociety,
3rded. (Boulder,CO: Westview
Press,1996),p. 281.
33 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans,
pp. 280-1.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

tohandle
ofthetwostates,
butwouldsetup a SupremeNationalCommittee
Yun
in common.34
certainmatters
ThisproposalwasignoredbyPresident
which
Po-sonandPremier
SecondRepublic,
ChangMyonoftheshort-lived
inApril1960,
wasestablished
Rhee'stoppling
following
bystudent
protesters
a coupd'etatin
andbyGeneralParkChung-hee,
whoseizedpowerthrough
becamepresident
oftheThirdRepublicfrom
May1961,and subsequently
1963untilhisassassination
in 1979.Parkbannedall publicdiscussionof
ofnational
on groundsthatitinterfered
withtheconcentration
unification,
efforts
on rapideconomicconstruction.35
The conservative
reunification
policiesof theseSouthKoreanregimes
and
wereharshly
criticized
student
by
organizations
groups,intellectual
in
contacts
"leftist"
of
direct
talks
and
with
who
came
out
favour
personages,
NorthKorea,despitetheobviousrisksto theadvocates'ownlives,liberties
and limbsin the formof the police,internalsecurity
agentsand anticrucialto the
communist
The
issue
of
national
unification
was
vigilantes.
civilsociety
because
the
the
Rhee,Park
groupspursuing democracy
agenda
North
Korean
andsubsequent
authoritarian
had
used
the
regimes frequently
situationto justifytheirsuppressionof politicaloppositionand the
curtailment
of civilliberties,
and to generally
desensitizeSouthKorean
The regimes
citizensto theserepressions
and restrictions.
wouldappealto
the"special"
situation
on
the
Korean
owingtothenational
security
peninsula
and
the
the
threat
from
need
to
division,
military
guardagainst ever-present
Communist
NorthKorea.36
Fromtheperspective
ofcivilsociety
groups,as
as
nation
to
the
was
divided
and
the
could
long
regime
appeal thedeepin South
seatedinsecurity
and fearin themindsofthepeople,democracy
Koreawouldeitherbe illusory
orfragile
toreversals.
andsusceptible
Hence,
has ceasedto inculcatethepopulacewithantilongafterthegovernment
communist
label fordemocracy
ideologyand use the "pro-communist"
activists
and people callingforbetterrelationswiththeNorth,civicand
and
thecauseofdemocracy,
economicrights
politicalgroupschampioning
socialjusticecontinue
inthedebateovernational
tobe involved
reunification,
oratleastreconciliation,
andthepursuit
ofa foreign
policythatwouldrelax
SouthKorea'sdependenceon theUnitedStates.
ThevisitbyUS President
Richard
NixontothePeople'sRepublicofChina
in February
for
1972wasa profoundshockto bothSeoul and Pyongyang,
eachfoundthattheirbestfriend
to theirworstenemy,
and this
wastalking
madethemdecideto snubtheirrespective
alliesand initiate
contacts
with
one another.
in
and
the
a
statement
of
1972
dialogue
Following
issuing joint
bybothsides- vowingto striveforunification
"through
peacefulmeans
34 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans,
pp. 281-2.
35 NormanD. Levinand Yong-SupHan, Sunshine
in Korea- TheSouthKorean
DebateoverPolicies
Toward
North
Korea(SantaMonica,CA: Rand,2002),p.16.
36 SunhyukKim,ThePolitics
in Korea- TheRoleofCivilSociety
PA:
ofDemocratization
(Pittsburgh,
ofPittsburgh
Press,2000), pp. 39-40,46-7,102.
University

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in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations
Democratization

- an unprecedented
external
interference"
without
exchangeofRedCross
thetwoKoreastodiscusstheplight
offamilies
tookplacebetween
delegations
thedialogueand exchangeswere
dividedbytheKoreanWar.37
However,
becauseleadership
on neither
sidewaswilling
toseriously
soonterminated,
compromisethe ideologicalpolicies or interestgroupson whichthe
andsupportoftheirrespective
werebasedtopursuethe
regimes
legitimacy
distant
WhilebothKimIl-sungand ParkChung-hee
goalofnationalunity.
each wasfiercely
werein favourofunification,
opposedto mergeron the
other'sterms.The SouthwanteddirectpoliticaltalkswiththeNorthon
theSouthKorean
unification
issues,whiletheNorthwantedtocircumvent
in orderto holdnegotiations
authorities
withtheUS on thewithdrawal
of
AmericantroopsfromSouthKorea,and to replacethe 1953 Armistice
Thiswouldremaina keyobjective
witha bilateral
peacetreaty.38
Agreement
inApril
untilChina'sagreement
forNorthKoreaevenaftertheColdWar,39
Koreanproposalforwhatbecamethe"Four-Party
Talks"
1996totheUS-South
North
Korea
to
meet
the
US.
with
China
and
South
Korea
to
compelled
draft
a peacetreaty
fortheKoreanpeninsula.
Thesetalkshavesofarproduced
no results.
chiefin 1979,anothershortAfterParkwasassassinated
byhissecurity
took
under
Prime
Minister
ChoiKyuHa, in
livedcivilian
government power
andstudent
themidstoflabourunrest
demonstrations.
thisFourth
However,
Korea
ended
later
the
same
of
South
was
effectively
yearbya military
Republic
executed
General
Chun
Doo
who
the
Hwan, justified intervention
by
coup
in termsof maintainingnationalsecurityand restoringsocial order.
"hiddenhand"behindpoliticiansand student
Pyongyang's
Uncovering
had
leaderKimDae^jungthrown
Chun
behind
leaders,
opposition
prominent
the
loss
and
then
with
of
hundreds
of
lives
a probars,
suppressed
in
Kim's
in
students'
hometown
of
1980.40
democracy
uprising
Kwangjiu May
NorthKoreapolicy,
To muzzledebateovertheregime's
Chunplaceda ban
other
Kim%ung
onallpolitical
activities
the
two
leaders,
by
majoropposition
until1985.At the end of his seven-year
Sam and KimJong-pil,
termas
in
of
the
Fifth
which
Chun
anointed
as
1981,
president
Republic,
began
in
hisformer
the
General
successor
Roh
Tae-woo.
Since
the
army,
colleague
Electoral
waspackedwith
Collegechargedwithchoosingthenextpresident
certain
to
of
Roh
was
succeed
Chun
under
thecurrent
Chun,
supporters
37 Don Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas- A Contemporary
History(Indianapolis,IN: Basic Books,
1997),pp. 23-31.
38 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans,
pp. 261-2.In 1984,NorthKoreadroppeditsobjectionto the
inclusionofSouthKoreain suchtalkswiththeUS.
39 NorthKorea'sargument
wasthatanyfuturepeace structure
fortheKoreanpeninsulashould
be negotiatedbytheoriginalsignatories
to the 1953Armistice,
and SouthKoreawasnota partyto
thisagreement.See Selig Harrison,"Promoting
a SoftLandingin Korea,"Foreign
Vol. 106,
Policy,
Spring1997,pp. 57-76.
40 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
pp. 124-33.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

intheNationalAssembly
constitutional
members
arrangement.
Opposition
thendemandeda constitutional
amendment
to havethenextpresident
chosenbypopularvote.
The ensuingpublicoutcryled to massivedemonstrations
bystudents,
churchgroups,and,significantly
forthefirst
workers,
time,sectionsofthe
of
middleclassthathad hitherto
acquiescedin thelawand orderrhetoric
rule.Variousautonomousorganizationssuch as the Citizen's
military
CoalitionforEconomicJustice,the KoreanWomen'sAssociationfor
theKoreanFederationfortheEnvironment
Democracyand Sisterhood,
and the United People's MovementforDemocracyand Unification
farmers,
youth,
(Mintongryun)
organizedas a nationalcoalitionofworkers,
to
contributed
andjournalists,
students,
actively
religiousgroups,writers
the democratization
of South Korea.41On June29, 1987,withChun's
Rohcameoutin supportofpopularelectionofthepresidency.
agreement,
Roh also agreedto freethe long-time
KimDae-jungfrom
oppositionist
detention
and
relax
both
of
with
which,together
political
presscensorship,
an electedpresidency,
forces.
werekeydemandsoftheopposition
Ironically,
becausetheoppositionvotewassplitbetweenKimDae-jungand another
of
leaderKim\bungSam,Rohwaselectedanyway
bya plurality
opposition
36.6percent,42
andassumedoffice
the
Sixth
as thefirst
of
Republic
president
in February
1988.
Inter-Korean
RelationsDuring theRoh Tae-wooPresidency

a
without
PerhapsbecauseRoh Tae-woowaselectedto thepresidency
in
the
as
"Chun
and
was
indeed
majority
popularvote,
regardedbymany
witha wig"forhiscloseassociation
authoritarian
withtheprevious
regime,
he knewthatwhatever
domestic
he
have
agenda might wishedtopushwould
havebeen stymied,
at leastforthe timebeing,bya NationalAssembly
dominated
the
The April1988legislative
electionhad given
by opposition.
candidates
in
more
seats
the
National
opposition
Assemblythan the
for
the
first
time
in
South
Korea's
Thishelduntil
governing
party
history.
themovebyKim%ung SamandKimJong-pil
tomergetheirparliamentary
withtherulingpartyin 1990restored
thegovernment's
groupings
gripon
theNationalAssembly.
As such,in orderto shoreup thelegitimacy
ofhis
with
the
left
and
to
affirm
regimedomestically
newlyempowered
political
hispoliticalstanding
abroad,Roh executeda seriesofboldforeign
policy
InJuly1988,Rohinitiated
initiatives.
an openpolicytowardtheNorth,and
increased
efforts
tocultivate
contacts
andimprove
relations
withCommunist
states
in
in
as nordpolitik.
a
form
of
South
Korea
known
byengaging
diplomacy
41 Hye-Kyung
in theAsia-Pacific
civilsociety
Lee, "NGOs in Korea," in Emerging
community:
ed. TadashiYamamoto
AsiaPacificregional
Nongovernmental
oftheemerging
community,
underpinnings
Studies,1995),pp. 161-4.
(Tokyo:JapanCentreforInternational
42 KoreaAnnual1998 (Seoul: YonhapNewsAgency,
1998) p. 77.

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in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations
Democratization

movebySouthKorea'sdemocratizing
wasnotonlya strategic
Nordpolitik
economicand diplomatic
means,thepressure
through
regimeto counter,
on itssocialistand ThirdWorldalliesto boycott
NorthKoreawasputting
in 1988.Itwasalso a politicaltoolto allaysomeofthe
theSeoul Olympics
harshanti-communist
withtheexisting
ideology.
populardiscontent
inJuly1988,Noh had urgedhis
In a "SpecialPresidential
Declaration"
notto thinkofNorthKoreansas adversaries,
butas potential
countrymen
in thepursuit
ofcommonprosperity.43
Thisreflected
a significant
partners
a
changein themindsetoftheSouthKoreanleadershipand represented
todepartfromthehitherto
deliberate
attempt
uncompromising
policyline
As partofSeoul's
towardNorthKoreaas thecountry's
enemy.
designated
Kim
Sam
was
effort
topursuenordpolitik,Young
byhisgovernment
permitted
in
Moscow
1988
as
leader
of
an
to visit
oppositionpartyin theNational
in
as
chief
of
and
1990
the newlyformedgoverning
Assembly, again
An official
DemocraticLiberalParty.44
visitto a Communist
country
bya
leader
of
South
Korea
would
have
been
unthinkable
political
duringthe
Rhee
and
Park
of
when
anti-communism
ChungHee,
rigid
regimes Syngman
wasbotha basicelementofSouthKoreanforeignpolicyand a sourceof
legitimizationfor the maintenanceof authoritarianrule. However,
democratization
changedallthat,byopeningup thedomestic
political
space
witha restructuring
anddemocratizing
USSR.Expanding
forreconciliation
Roh in September1989 proposed a new
the focusof his nordpolitik,
- a "commonwealth"
- thatwentfurther
formula
in
reunification
proposal
traditional
North
Korean
than
positions anyprevious
implicitly
recognizing
had.45Therewasno responsefromPyongyang
SouthKoreaninitiatives
to
Roh'sproposal.
Priorto 1989,no SouthKoreancivilianwaslegallyallowedto travelto
NorthKorea,butRoh'snordpolitik
wouldsoon changethat.Reflecting
the
relaxedpoliticalmood in SouthKorea,and withthe agreementof the
oftheotherKorea,thelateSouthKoreanbusiness
tycoon
government
Chung
went
to visithis NorthKoreanbirthplacein January1989. As
Ju-yung
oxbusinessconglomerate,
Chairman
ofHyundaichaebol
Chungnegotiated
todeveloptheKumgang
ajointventure
with
Mountain
agreement Pyongyang
Zone
the
De-Militarized
for
South
Korean
A
near
tourists.
(DMZ)
region
North-South
economic
of
made
South
masterpiece
diplomacy,
possibleby
theresorthasyettomakeanymoney;in
Korea'sdemocratic
breakthrough,
weresuchthatHyundaihadbeendelaying
fact,thelossesincurred
payment
oftherentas promisedto theNorthKoreangovernment
fortherightto
SinceChung'sfailedbidforthepresidency
ofSouth
developthemountain.
of the chaebol
Koreain 1992as therepresentative
have
leaders,observers
43 Levinand Han, Sunshine
inKorea,
pp. 7-8.
44 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans,
p. 252.
45 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans,
p. 283.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

slowpace of
concludedthattheyweredisappointed
withthegovernment's
economicopeningtotheNorth,46
whichonlymeantthattheyhavebecome
with
moreenthusiastic
thanRoh in openingup tradeand investment
Pyongyang.
in 1987,moreand morepeople
Sincethebeginning
ofdemocratization
and reunification-related
havecome to
organizations
non-governmental
mustinvolve
on reunification
believethattheprocessofpolicyformation
The more
the people and not remainthe preserveof the government.
North
meant
thatthe
tolerantand less restrictive
the
toward
approach
and
in thediscourseon reunification
boundariesofwhatwaspermissible
Koreannationalidentity,
as definedbythestate,cameundersevereand
South
TheNationalSecurity
Law(NSL),whichprohibits
verypublictesting.
Koreancitizens
fromvisiting
NorthKoreawithout
government
permission,
Alliance
fortheReunification
waschallenged
ofthePan-National
bymembers
froma tripto
ofKorea(Pomminnyon)
on theirreturn
,whowereimprisoned
theNorth.47
Aswell,severalmembers
oftheSeoulRegionalAllianceofthe
andcharged
NationalPeople'sFineArtsMovement
werearrested
(Somiryon)
undertheNSL forthecrimeofpraising
NorthKorea.48
However,
popular
pressureforced the Roh Tae-woo governmentto legalize Amnesty
on NorthKoreaand other
International
and lifttheban on publications
were
Communist
countries.
Democratization
alsomeantthattheauthorities
and
no longerabletosuppress
for
symposia open
requests publichearings,
issue.
discussions
on thereunification
betweenthe
The year1990sawa path-breaking
seriesofthreemeetings
third
ministers
of
North
and
South
Korea.
the
meetingin
prime
During
calledon
then
North
Korean
Prime
Minister
Yon
December,
Hyong-muk
President
Roh at theBlue House,official
residenceof theSouthKorean
Yonbecamethefirst
Northern
PrimeMinister
everto call on a
president.
Southern
forSouth
The
1990
was
also
a
watershed
moment
president. year
Koreaninternational
for
dividends
beyondthe
diplomacy, nordpolitik
paid
Koreaand
SouthKoreanleadership's
mostoptimistic
South
expectations.
the SovietUnion had alreadyestablishedtrademissionsin each other's
RohmetwithSovietleaderMikhail
capitalsin 1989.EventhoughPresident
Gorbachevforthe firsttimeonlyin June 1990,the SovietUnion had
SouthKoreabySeptember
ofthatyear,thuspavingthewayfora
recognized
in Siberiafrom
loan packageofUS$3 billionto Moscowand investments
Roh
Seoul.49BycourtingGorbachev'sfriendship
as a fellowreformer,
succeededin sabotaging
relationsbetweenPyongyang
and Moscow.Ties
46 Eun Mee Kim,BigBusiness,
ofNewYorkPress,1987),
State(AlbanyN.Y: StateUniversity
Strong
Politics
p. 200; and Oh, Korean
(p. 122.
47 Amnesty
International
International
1992(London:Amnesty
,p.163.
Report
ReportPublications)
48 Amnesty,
p. 167.
49 Parket al., "Democratization
and ForeignPolicyChangein theEastAsianNICS,"in Foreign
- How Governments
PolicyRestructuring
Respondto GlobalChange,p. 178.

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Democratization
in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations

- Moscow's
NorthKoreaandtheSovietUnionturned
between
frosty
security
withPyongyang,
enteredintoin 1961,wasin tatters;
and post-Soviet
treaty
Russiabeganto demandhardcurrency
foritsexports,
fueland
principally
toNorthKorea,insteadofallowing
topayforthem
machinery,
Pyongyang
withcommodities
or credit.50
in 1987,Rohhadpledgedatthe
Duringthecampaignforthepresidency
westcoastportofInchonto "crossthe"Vfellow
Sea" toChinaduringhisterm
in office.51
tieswithChinathusbecamethehighestpriority
of
Cultivating
Roh'snordpolitik
Thispledgehadan important
domestic
policy.
political
logic
to it,becausethewestcoastof SouthKoreafacingChinawasmuchless
thantheprosperous
southcoastfacing
developedeconomically
Japan.Asa
resultof his promisesregardingtradewithChina,Roh carriedInchon,
a stronghold
of the politicalopposition,as the government's
normally
candidateinthecountry's
first
truedemocratic
vote.Asa result
presidential
of politicalliberalization,economic inter-dependencehas replaced
as theprimedeterminant
ofSouthKorea'sforeign
ideological
affinity
policy
and thebehaviourof itsvote-maximizing
leadershipand foreign-policyhas led to changesin thenormative
makingelite.Politicalliberalization
basisforregimelegitimization,
and alteredperceptionsof threatsand
states.
opportunities
posedbyneighbouring
to
Chinese
tradewithSouthKoreain 1990
According Beijing'sfigures,
wasalreadyseventimeslargerthanitstradewiththeNorthand increasing
SouthKorea'sopeningtowardChinawascomplicated
rapidly.52
Initially,
by
Seoul'sexisting
tieswithTaiwan,and byBeijing'sbackingfor
diplomatic
ofthedualadmission
of
Pyongyang's
positioninopposingSeoul'sadvocacy
bothNorthandSouthKoreatotheUnitedNations(UN),whichPyongyang
in 1991 China
However,
argued,wouldbe a hindranceto reunification.
its
to
South
Korean
in
the
UN, and in
dropped opposition
membership
after
South
Korea
off
broke
official
relations
with
Taiwan,it
August1992,
In
wasrecognized
Seoul
also
to
obtain
byBeijing. 1996,
managed
Beijing's
insuccessfully
NorthKoreatotakepartintheSouthKoreasupport
urging
US proposalfor"Four-Party
Talks."Reachingoutto Chinaas a friendand
had
won
South
Koreaa covetedseatin theUN,diplomatic
trading
partner
from
a
Asian
recognition
major
powerand hitherto
principalbackerofits
and
the
to
the
North
intoentering
archenemy,
opportunitypressure
dialogue
withthe Southin a multilateral
forum.The landmark"Agreement
on
and
and
between
Reconciliation,
Non-Aggression, Exchange
Cooperation
theSouthand theNorth,"
signedin December1991,cappedRoh'sefforts
toencouragePyongyang
toacceptsomeformofpeacefulcoexistence
with
Seoul.Allthesesalientaccomplishments
ofSouthKoreanforeign
policies
50 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans,
p. 252.
51 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
p. 242.
52 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
p. 231.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

undoubtedlyflowedout of the shiftin the basis of its elite'spolitical


of
fromanti-communist
authoritarianism
tothearticulation
legitimization,
nationalinterests
basedon democratic
normsandinternational
cooperation,
underthepresidency
ofRohTae-Woo.
Inter-Korean
Relations
DuringtheKimYoungSamPresidency

UnlikeRoh,Kim\bungSam,hissuccessoras president
ofSouthKorea
from1993to 1998,had no discernible
theNorth,
overallstrategy
towards
butoscillatedunpredictably
lines.
the
betweenhardand soft
Kim, former
leader
in
who
had
the
1990
and
whobecame
opposition
joined rulingparty
itspresidential
in1992,wasapprehensive
candidate
aboutthepositive
aspects
of North-South
relations.Kim and his politicalbackersfearedthata
continuation
of the North-South
euphoriaof the earliermonthswould
hisold politicalrival,KimDaejung,who,backedbytheopposition,
benefit
was shapingup once again as his principalcompetitor
forpresidential
candidate.Thisled Kim\bungSam,in hisultimately
successful
campaign
forpresident,
tofeature
anti-communist
attacks
on hislong-term
adversary,
whomhe loudlybutfalsely
From
accusedofbeingendorsedbyPyongyang.53
the1992presidential
electiononwards,
and
economic
relations
with,
political
assistanceto NorthKoreabecamea regularissueofpublicdebatein the
and NationalAssembly
elections.
politicsofSouthKoreanpresidential
In hisFebruary
1993inauguraladdress,KimYoungSamoffered
tomeet
hisNorthKoreancounterpart
"atanytimeand anyplace,"and declared
ofthesameKoreanfamily,
"noallycan be morevaluable
that,as members
than national kinship."54Yet,in separateinterviews
withthe British
and the New YorkTimesthatJuly,Kim voiced harsh
Broadcasting
Company

criticisms
of the negotiations
undertakenbyWashington
officials
with
The
the
out
of
economic
were
over
Pyongyang. negotiations
phasing
sanctions
ifPyongyang
theNorth,
wouldagreetofreezeitsproduction
against
of plutonium
fornuclearweapons.KimchargedthattheNorthKoreans
weremanipulating
thenegotiations
"tobuytimeto finishtheirproject,"
and expressedhope thattheUS "wouldnotbe led on byNorthKorea."55
Unlikehis legitimacy-conscious
predecessoror his conviction-driven
whatdroveKimYoungSam'sNorthern
were
successor,
policiesas president
aboveall thetidesofdomesticpublicopinion.UnlikePark,Chunor Roh,
Kimwasa life-long
whohad military
backgrounds,
politician
professional
in theshifting
witha keeninterest
viewsofthepublic.Knownforrelying
moreon hisfeelforthepoliticalaspectsofissuesthananyoverallstrategy,
53 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
p. 287.
54 KimYoungSam,InauguralPresidential
Address,February
25, 1993. See Han S. Park,InterKoreaRelations:
andProspects,
CarolinaAsianNews,<http://www.ils.unc.edu/cann/
Premises,
Problems,
histcult.html>
and <http://www.koreascope.org/english/sub/14/korea3
l.htm.>
55 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
p. 287.

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Relations
in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Democratization

headlinesortelevision
broadcasts
as havingcitednewspaper
hewasreported
and forconstantly
moreoftenthanofficial
papersin internaldiscussions,
to pollingdata,publicopinionand thepoliticalpositionsofhis
referring
hisreactionsto events,supposedly
evenin
and rivalsin discussing
friends
andtelephonecallswiththeUS president.56
Bythesecondhalfof
meetings
towithdraw
fromthe
1993,afterNorthKoreahad announceditsintention
ofunwarranted
demandsby
Non-Proliferation
Treaty(NPT) on thepretext
AtomicEnergy
theInternational
Agencyto inspecttwositesat Yongbyon,
and thedecisionbybothSouthKoreaand theUS to conducttheirannual
itscancellation
the
"TeamSpirit"exercisefor1993,following
joint-military
in
mood
South
Korea
to
turn
began
against
yearbefore,the public
Kim%ungSam'sviewofNorthKorea,neverupbeat
Accordingly,
Pyongyang.
tobeginwith,hardened.
In thesummerof 1994,therewasa briefpromiseofa summit
meeting
KimYoung
ofbothKoreas,whenKimIl-sung
invited
thepresidents
between
buttheopportunity
waslostwhentheNorthKorean
SamtovisitPyongyang,
onJuly8,beforethemeeting
couldtakeplace.
leaderpassedawaysuddenly
of
the
of
October
as
Geneva
Framework
1994,the
Then, part
Agreed
BillClintonagreedtoprovidetwolightwater
ofUS President
administration
and supplyfueloil whiletheywerebeingbuiltwith
to Pyongyang
reactors
in exchangeforNorthKoreanot
ofSouthKoreanengineers,
theexpertise
fromthe NPT.
its
nuclear
with
programmeor withdrawing
continuing
endorsed
the
the
Seoul
officially
government
agreementand
Although
Kim
it
Sam
was
to
make
withClinton
work, Young
openlydispleased
promised
at not beingconsultedbeforehand.Kimand manySouthKoreansfelt
dealtwiththeirarch-enemy
betrayedthattheirold ally,theAmericans,
andbelievedthatanyAmerican
dealwould
without
theirdirectinvolvement,
wrecked
famine-induced
starvation
andon
shoreup a Pyongyang
regime
by
reunification.57
thevergeofcollapse,thuspostponing
From 1972, when Park Chung Hee promulgated the "Yushin"
toban all politicalpartiesand removeterm
Constitution
("Revitalization")
andtheneedfordirectelectiontothatoffice,
tothe
limits
on hispresidency
in
the
of
decisionbyChunDoo Hwantorelinquish
1987,
power
presidents
used thethreatofNorthKoreato imposea
SouthKoreahaveconstantly
on thecountry.
"totalsecurity
Theydidthisbycombining
system"
personal
witha quasi-military
mobilization
ofsociety
into
controlofthearmedforces
to
the
of
a kindofgarrison
state,whichcontributed
greatly
strengthening
rulers'politicalpower.58
the authoritarian
WiththeperceptionofNorth
56 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
p. 288.
57 Oberdorfer,
TheTwoKoreas,
p. 358.
58 YungMyungKim,"Patterns
ofMilitary
Ruleand Prospects
forDemocracyin SouthKorea," in
inAsiaandthePacific,
ed. R.J.MayandVibertoSelochan(Bathurst:
TheMilitary
andDemocracy
Crawford
House Publishing,
1998),p. 123.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

Koreaas a military
threatgreatly
diminished
on accountofitseconomic
and on theurgingofPresident
Kim\foung
difficulties,
Sam,SouthKorea's
definition
ofitssecurity
wasexpandedfromthephysical
ofthe
protection
stateofROK (gukgaanbo)tothepreservation
ofthepoliticaland territorial
oftheentirenationoftheKoreanpeople,includingbothNorth
integrity
and SouthKorea,as wellas overseasKoreans(minjok
the
anbo).59
Although
on therealization
ofKoreanreunification,
itrepresents
changeispredicated
a significant
tode-link
bya democratic
attempt
government
regimesecurity
fromstatesecurity.
Kimappointedtwoformer
tohead
university
professors
the NationalUnificationBoard and the AgencyforNationalSecurity
theKoreanCentral
,positions
(NSP) (formerly
Planning
Intelligence
Agency)
In responseto streetdemonstrations,
sitheld
bureaucrats.
traditionally by
insand a nation-wide
Kim
civil
signature
groups,
campaignorganizedby
alsopurgedpolitically
anddecreedthearrest
activeofficers
fromthemilitary,
and trialofformerpresidents
Chunand Roh fororderingtheKwangjiu
massacreand corruption
whilein office,whichled to theirsubsequent
He mostlikely
didallthistoshowcritical
civilsociety
imprisonment.60
groups
thathe did notbetray
thepro-democracy
causewhenhe mergedhisparty
intoRoll'srulingbloc in 1990and soughtitsnomination
in
forpresident
thereason,byso doing,Kim\bungSam,thefirst
to
civilian
1992.Whatever
be electedSouthKoreanpresident
in 32 years,managedto de-legitimize
notonlypastandfuture
seizuresofpolitical
military
coups,61
powerthrough
butalsothejustification
ofauthoritarian
inthenameofpreserving
repression
statesecurity.
He also removedmanypotentialinstitutional
obstaclesto
North
Korea
for
his
successor.
engaging
A seriesof politicalscandalshad put the rulingNew Korea Partyof
President
Kim\foung
Samin a difficult
positionfortheNationalAssembly
electionof 1996,notleastbecausehisownsonwasallegedto havetaken
bribesfrom
HanboSteeltoarrange
thefinancing
bystatebanksofthechaebol,
59 Chung-inMoon, "SouthKorea: RecastingSecurityParadigms,"
in AsianSecurity
Practices
Materialand Ideational
ed. MuthiahAlagappa (Stanford,
CA: StanfordUniversity
Press,
Influences,
1998),p. 275.
60 Oh, Korean
Politics,
pp. 133-4,169-81.
61 The military
of1961and 1980wereconductedbya cliqueof"politicized"
officers
from
coups
the'Hanahoe'(one-heart
/ one-mindsociety)factionoftheSouthKoreanmilitary,
composedmainly
ofregularKoreanMilitary
ParkChung
AcademygraduatesfromKyongsang
provinces.
Throughout
Hee's presidency,
membersofHanahoewere
placedinsuchstrategic
positionsas theNationalMilitary
Command(NMSC), theKoreanCentralIntelligence
Security
Agency(KCIA), and thePresidential
Office.ChunDoo Hwanwasbothpresident
ofHanahoeand commanderoftheNMSCwhen
Security
he tookpower.Bypledgingpersonalloyalty
to Park,and subsequently
Chun,Hanahoe members
treatment
enjoyedhis patronagein appointmentand promotion,and thisexcessivepreferential
extendedto itsmembersmade thecliquea sourceoffriction
withinthemilitary.
Itwasthisgroupof
officers
thatwererotatedoutofhighoffices
in themilitary
itspurgebyKimYoungSam.See
following
Moonand Mun-GuRang,"Democratic
Intervention
in SouthKorea:
Chung-in
Openingand Military
Assessment
and Implications,"
in Politics
intheNewKorean
States
-From
RohTaeandPolicy
Comparative
wootoKimYoung
Sam,edJamesCotton(Melbourne:Longman,1995),pp. 174-5,187-8.

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in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations
Democratization

whichwas in financialdifficulties.62
However,a raidintotheDMZ and
voters
withdrawal
byNorthKoreansoldiersinApril1996turned
subsequent
andhelpedtheparty
wintheelectionagainstallodds.63
Seoul's
conservative
massmediasaidthata bukpung
(northwind)savedtherulingpartyfrom
NorthKorea'sprovocative
certainelectoraldisaster.64
which
behaviour,
ofa NorthKoreansubmarine
intoSouthKorean
continued
withtheincursion
search
waterson September
18,1996,followed
bytwomonthsofintensive
enabledKimYoungSamto adopta policyof
forNorthKoreaninfiltrators,
contactand aid forthe
"benignneglect"towardtheNorthbysuspending
durationof his presidencyto outflankthe more moderatepolicyof
advocatedbythepartyofhismainrival,KimDae-jung.
engagement
on
Atdawn December29,1996,in theabsenceofopposition
legislators,
rammedthrough
theNationalAssembly
KimYoungSam'sNewKoreaParty
billsto weakenlabourunionsand facilitate
massive
severallabour-related
the
of
the
and
a
bill
to
surveillance
expand
purview
Agencyfor
layoffs,
Intense
labour
NationalSecurity
unions,students,
protestsby
Planning.
andopposition
academics,
lawyers,
religious
organizations
parties
ultimately
theuseofundemocratic
toannulbothlaws.However,
forcedthegovernment
toforcetheadoptionofcontroversial
methods
bytheauthorities
legislation
in the name of "fighting
againstcommunistforces"and "improving
demonstrated
to civicand politicalgroups
international
competitiveness"
wasliabletoback-sliding
in
inthecountry
thatevena reformist
government
and
that
there
was
still
some
to
and
itsdemocratic
commitments,
way go
the spectreof NorthKorean
to be made towardexorcizing
mucheffort
as government
substantive
subversion
democracy
propagandaandrealizing
in SouthKorea.
Relations
Inter-Korean
DuringtheKimDae-jungPresidency

InAugust1998,a three-stage
NorthKoreanmissile
knownasTaepodongl
of
the
main
island
of
Honshuandsplashed
thenorthern
overflew
Japanese
tip
downin thePacificOcean 1200 milesfromitslaunchsite.The military
butdiplomatically,
itgavePyongyang
forthelaunchwasdeterrence,
rationale
withWashington,
Seoul'sprincipal
muchpotentialleveragein bargaining
An
of
and
economics.65
authoritarian
on
issues
South
security
protector,
in
have
the
used
the
Koreanmilitary
would
incident
to
past
government
the
but
a
toward
North,
position
newlyargueagainstadopting conciliatory
KimDae-jung
wasconfident
electedpresident
enoughofhisowndemocratic
62 Oh, KoreanPolitics,pp. 206-8.

63 AndrewPollack,"SouthKorea'sRulingPartyTripsbutDoes NotFall in Elections",


NewYork
Times,
April12,1996,p.A3.
64 Moon,"SouthKorea:RecastingSecurity
Paradigms,"
p. 716.
65 SeligS. Harrison,"TheMissilesofNorthKorea:How reala threat?"World
Fall
Policy
Journal,
Lastverified
2000.<http://ptg.djnr.com/ccroot/asp/publib/story.asp>
May2001.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

credentials
and long-held
breakice withNorth
idealsto eventually
pacifist
Korea'sleaderKimJong-il.
Unlikehispredecessor,
President
KimDae-jungpreferred
to treatthe
to
Northas a partner
toreconcileandcooperatewith,ratherthanan entity
be eventually
overwhelmed
or absorbedbySouthKorea.One mayevensay
thatthewholeideabehindtheKimDae-jungpresidency's
toadvance
attempt
withtheNorthis to deconstruct
SouthKoreans'imageof
rapprochement
NorthKoreaas theenemy,
and perhapsevenvice-versa.
The imageofan
has
been
absence
ofknowledge
facilitated
enemy
greatly
bythealmosttotal
and communication
of
the
Korean
betweenthetwohalves
peninsulafor
decades.To challengethestate'sexisting
on
proposals
monopoly devising
KimfoundedtheKimDae-jungPeace Foundationin 1994
forunification,
topromote
Koreanreunification,
democratic
changeinAsiaandworldpeace.
in theNorthand
As president,
he wantedmeetings
forseparatedfamilies
the Southto takeplace as soon as possible,and proposeda three-stage
formula
forreunification,
fromconfederation
forthetwoKoreas,
advancing
Since his
to
and
then
to
a
unified
proceeding federation,
country.66
in
Kim
his
"Sunshine
with
has
1998,
inauguration February
pushed
policy"
callsfortheSouthtoadopta morepatient
andaccommodating
stancetoward
theNorth,and taketheinitiative
toengageitin dialogueand exchangesas
oftenas possible.
inNorth
To encourageSouthKoreanprivate
businesses
investors
tostart
Seoul
lifted
the
in
the
North.67
The
on
investment
Korea,
Samsung
ceiling
to producetelevision
groupsoon starteda jointventurenearPyongyang
setsand stereosforexport.68
thesummit
ofJune2000between
Following
KimDae-jungand theNorth'sChairman
KimJong-il
theSouth's President
in Pyongyang,
Kim
for
considered
a
success
widely
Dae-jungand his
of the
"Sunshinepolicy,"
decisionsweremade betweenthegovernments
twoKoreastoreconnect
a cross-border
a
establish
"hotline,"69
military
railway,
and designinvestment
agreementsto protectSouthKoreanbusinesses
in theNorthfromdoubletaxationand nationalization
without
investing
In
Korea's
trade
at
international
market
South
2002,
compensation
prices.70
66 Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation, ed., KimDae-jung's"Three-Stage
"ApproachtoKoreanReunification

ofSouthernCalifornia,
and Transnational
Studies,University
(Los Angeles:CenterforMultiethnic
1997).
67 BonhakKoo and ChungheeNam,"SouthKorea'sSunshinePolicyand Inter-Korean
Security
in Korean
Vol.XIII, No.l, Autumn2001,pp. 82-3.
Relations,"
Journal
ofDefence
Analysis,
68 Lee Dong-han,Lee Kwang-hoi,
and Seo Gyo,"LocalBusinessWelcomesInter-Korea
Summit,"
ChosunIlbo,April 10, 2000, <http://srch.chosun.com/cgi-bin/english/search?did=24694&OP=
5&word=SAMSUNG%20JOINT%20VENTURE%20PYONGYANG%20&name=english/
Business&dtc=20000410&url=http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200004/
Lastverified
200004100294.html&title=Local%
20Business%
20Welcomes%
20Inter-Korea%20Summit>
February2003.
"
-South,NorthKoreaagreeon defensesafeguard,
69 KangSeok-jae,"Military
HotlineintheWorks
KOREANow,December16,2000,p. 11.
70 StaffWriter,"S-NBusinessAdvancesinto New Era - South,NorthKorea forgehistoric
on economiccooperation,"
KOREANow,November18,2000,p. 10.
agreements

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in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations
Democratization

toSeoul,
withtheNorthreached$642million,71
which,
although
insignificant
of Pyongyang's
It wascertainly
amountedto one-quarter
tradetotal.72
a
tieswiththeNorthwerefirst
quantumleap from1988,whencommercial
SouthKorea'sdemocratization,
established
and bilateraltrade
following
From1998to 2002,SouthKoreans
amountedto less than$10 million.73
aid toNorthKorea,withthree-quarters
of
$400millioninfinancial
provided
and thebalancefromNGOs.74One-third
theamountfromthegovernment
ofall visitsbySouthKoreansto theNorthtookplacein 2002;similarly,
40
To reducemilitary
byNorthKoreansoccurredthatyear.75
percentofallvisits
and tohelpthereclusive
tensionon theKoreanpeninsula,
regimeopenits
doorsand becomea responsible
memberoftheinternational
community,
or strengthening
SouthKoreafullysupportedthe Northin establishing
linkswithWestern
countries.
diplomatic
Kim
has
failed
toachievebipartisan
consensus
forhispolicy
Unfortunately,
North.
Kim's
toward
the
were
his
alreadyattacking
opponents
approach
"SunshinePolicy"earlyon as one of overgenerous
appeasement,
arguing
asidefromwasting
SouthKoreantaxpayers'
thatithad accomplished
little,
to build
moneybyunilaterally
givingaid to NorthKorea and offering
in
In
that
return
for
their
the
infrastructure
efforts, critics
country.
projects
reticence
and
inaction.76
the
successful
Even
with
Northsaid,theygotonly
ofJune2000,opposition
have
demanded
that
the
Southsummit
legislators
Kimgovernment
askNorthKoreato issuean apologyforits1950invasion,
and Lee Hoi Chang,whorana closesecondto D. J.Kimduringthe1997
insisted
on theprinciple
of"strategic
and
elections,
presidential
reciprocity"
in dealingswithNorthKorea,which,he said,havenot
concretebenefits
Asmentioned,
theKumgang
toincur
beenforthcoming.77
projectcontinues
lossesforSouthKoreandeveloperHyundai,theexpectedvisitofKimJongand SouthKoreanplans to developan
il to Seoul has not materialized,
inNorthKorea'sKaesongcity
arestillon thedrawing
industrial
district
boards.
indebted
that
the
need
to
restructure
chaebols
bailouts
heavily
Facing
require

71 RepublicofKoreaMinistry
ofUnification,
/interkorean.
<http://www.unikorea.go.kr/en/...
Lastverified
February2003.
php?page_code=ue0302&ucd=eng020>
72 Republic of Korea Ministry
of Unification,<http://www.unikorea.go.kr/eg/load/C32/
C327.htm>Lastverified
2003.
February
73 Park,Ko and Kim,"Democratization
and ForeignPolicyChangein theEastAsianNICS,"
p. 158.
"4 Conversation
withMikyoung
Kim,oftheUS Embassyin SouthKorea,on February
26, 2003.
KimalsopointedoutthatNGOs on ChejuIslanddonated$200 millionworthoftangerines
toNorth
Koreafrom1998to2002,whichservesas a good illustration
ofnon-government
foodaid fromSouth
Koreato theNorthunderthe'SunshinePolicy."
75 StaffReporter,Inter-Korean
Ilbo,, January2, 2002.
exchangespeaked in 2002, JoongAng
Lastverified
2003.
February
<http://english.joins.com>
76 KoreaTimes,
November19,2001.
77 STRATFOR,"SunsetforSouth Korea's SunshinePolicy?"<http://www.stratfor.com/asia/
March2001.
03261630> Lastverified
commentary/01

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

fromgovernment
banks,as wellas thearrestofhistwosonson corruption
term,
chargesandthependingendofhispresidential
D.J.Kimcoulddevote
littleattention,
energyor politicalcapitalto pursuefurther
engagement
initiatives
withtheNorthduringhislastyearin office.
Thisbecameall the
moreevident
withtheremoval
ofhisfirst
Unification
Minister
andarchitect
ofthe"Sunshine
in the
LimDongWon,bya voteofno-confidence
Policy,"
SouthKoreanNationalAssembly.
talksheldin
ministerial
Still,inter-Korean
in an agreement
toopentworailway
linksacross
August2002haveresulted
theDMZ,resumption
ofdiscussions
on theKaesongindustrial
and
project,
NorthKoreanparticipation
in theAsianGamesin Seoul.
Withoutstrongsupportfor his "SunshinePolicy"fromthe Bush
in Washington,
administration
whichhas characterized
NorthKoreaas a
state
and
of
an
"axis
of
Kim
it
difficult
found
evil,"D.J.
rogue
part
increasingly
todefendthepolicyat home.Pyongyang's
toput
or
inability unwillingness
torestWashington's
North
Korea's
suspicions
regarding
possiblepossession
ofweaponsofmassdestruction
domesticcensureofKim's
onlyreinforced
Northern
ofcontacts,
thethought
thatSeoul
policy.
Despitetheresumption
weregivinghandoutsto Pyongyang
withlittleto showin thewayofresults
weakenedpublicsupportforKim'spolicies,whichoppositionpoliticians
wereonlytoohappytoattack
intherun-up
election.78
tothe2002presidential
like
neither
ofthe
of
the
South
Korean
Still, three-quarters
population,79
D.
two
candidates
ran
for
Roh
Moo
of
who
J.Kim's
top
Hyun
president
Millennium
Democratic
nor
Lee
Hoi
eventual
winner)
Party(the
Changof
- wereagainstengagingNorthKorea.WhileRoh
theGrandNationalParty
wouldcontinuethepresent
withunconditional
policyofwooingPyongyang
Lee
ofNorth
insisted
on
from
the
North
and
verification
aid,
reciprocity
Korea'snuclearintentions.80
Whenpressed,oppositionleaderswilllikely
thatanyotherleaderof theRepublicof Koreawouldhave
acknowledge
littleoptionotherthantocontinuewithD.J.Kim'sprogramme
ofreaching
out to the North,forthe fearof war transcendspartyaffiliation
and
that
not
them
from
will
However,
ideologicaldisposition.
playing
prevent
withinter-Korean
relations
foras longas a totalitarian
NorthKorea
politics
toa contentiously
democratic
SouthKorea.
regimeexistsinjuxtaposition

78 HongNackKim,"The2000Parliamentary
Vol.XL,
Electionin SouthKorea,"in AsianSurvey,
No. 6, November/ December2000,pp. 911-2.
79 A poll conductedbythe SouthKoreanMinistry
of Unification
on June 11-12,2002,on a
endorsedthegovernment's
sampleof1500adults,foundthat73 percentoftherespondents
policyof
reconciliation
and cooperation,59.3 percentcitedthe reunionof separatedfamiliesas the most
remarkabledevelopment
sincetheinter-Korean
joint declarationtwoyearsago, and 66.1 percent
said thatthe currentlevelof the South'said to theNorthneeded to be maintainedor increased.
of Unification,
KoreanUnification
BulletinNo. 44,June2002,Public
Republicof Korea Ministry
Lastverified
OpinionPoll on PolicyTowardNorthKorea<http://www.unikorea.go.kr/.>
February
2003.
80 TheEconomist,
"Thepresidentapologises,"May11,2002,p. 30.

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in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Relations
Democratization
Findingsand Conclusion

The fieldofstudy
whichaddresses
howregimechangesrelatetochanges
has
to
in foreign
behaviour
yet yieldanymeaningful
generaltheory
policy
thathaveexperienced
democratization.81
There
fortesting
acrosscountries
of socioon the effects
is an evengreaterpaucityof researchliterature
on inter-Korean
relations
fromtheprocess
economicvoting
arising
patterns
in theEnglishlanguage.
in SouthKorea,particularly
of democratization
musttakeinto
Still,our case studyshowsthata democratic
government
therevealedpreference
of themedianvoterin the
seriousconsideration
Thisessayengagedthedebateon democratic
offoreign
policy.
peace
making
- Snyder
ifonlytoqualify
theMansfield
a little,
that,
proposition
byshowing
on
the
of
stances
particulartype ideological/nationalist
depending
statesneed notprovoke
theeliteto themasses,democratizing
connecting
inthecaseofSouthKoreaunder
Thiswasparticularly
demonstrated
conflict.
ofKimYoungSam,whocontinuedto supporttheGeneva
thepresidencies
and
Framework
evenin thefaceofat timesutterly
uncooperative
Agreed
behaviourfromNorthKorea;KimDae-jung,whohad to
evenbelligerent
criticism
ofhis"Sunshine
whenever
navalaltercations
weather
Policy"
cutting
ofNorthand SouthKorea;and Roh Moo
occurredbetweenthewarships
Hyun,who made continuingengagementwiththe Northhis electoral
admissionto havinga nuclearweapons
despitePyongyang's
platform,
programme.
In fact,ourfindings
tothenotionthat,contrary
totheclaims
givesupport
ofthedyadicversionofthedemocratic
relations
peace theory,
cooperative
and statesthatuse domesticcoercionare possible,
betweendemocracies
thisstudy
andareevensoughtoutbytheformer.82
addressesonly
However,
and moreresearchintoinvestigating
thisdemocratizationone country,
causes-warlink is certainlywarranted.Democratic transitionand
inSouthKoreahaveundoubtedly
furthered
thepoliticization
consolidation
offoreign
and security
issues,byopeningup thepoliticalspacethatallows
Democratic
fortheirarticulation.
changeshavealsowidenedthespectrum
81 Perhapsthemostthorough
oftheeffect
ofdomestic
analysis
politicalregimechangeon foreign
forthepurposeofderivinga theoretical
framework
wastheattempts
byHagan to
policyalteration
to regimefragmentation
and orientation
of the newleadership,
relateforeignpolicyrealignment
themostcurrentstrainofinquiryin thisfield,Hagan's
amongotherfactors.
Althoughitrepresents
refinement
fora comprehensive
framework
and simplification
appearsto requirefurther
analysisof
betweentheregimeandforeign
therelationship
policychangetoemerge.SeeJoeD. Hagan,"Domestic
- How
in Foreign
PoliticalRegimeChange and ForeignPolicyRestructuring,"
PolicyRestructuring
ed. JerelA. Rosati,Joe D. Hagan and MartinW. SampsonIII
Governments
toGlobalChange,
Respond
of South Carolina Press,1994), pp. 138-63;and "DomesticPolitical
(Columbia,SC: University
- Continuity
in theAnalysis
ofForeignPolicy,"
inForeign
and Change
inIts
Analysis
Explanations
Policy
Second
LauraNeack,JeanneA.K.Heyand PatrickJ.
Generation,
Haney(EnglewoodCliffs,
NJ:PrenticeHall, 1995),pp. 117-44.
82 MiriamFendiusElman,"Testing
theDemocraticPeace Theory,"
in PathstoPeace:Is Democracy
theAnswer,
ed. MiriamFendiusElman(Cambridge,
MA:The MIT Press,1997),pp. 494-5.

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

ofideologicaldiversity
toinclude"ethnic"
and "class"issues,suchthat,with
the destruction
of the old linkagebetweenauthoritarian
rule and state
therhetoric
ofanti-communism,
and "richnationand
reification
security,
all ofwhichembodiedthedominantstatesecurity
strongarmy,"
ideology
duringtheColdWarera,havesincebeenon thedefensive.
relationsoverthe
Althoughtherewereups and downsin inter-Korean
past decade-and-a-half,the major foreignpolicy repercussionsof
in SouthKoreahavebeensuchthatrelations
democratization
betweenthe
twoKoreashaveon thewholeimproved.
Withthepoliticalascendanceof
studentgroups,labourorganizations
and othertorchbearers
intellectuals,
ofKoreannationalist
into
and
the
induction
of
civil
activists
activism,
society
theKimYoungSamgovernment
and subsequent
administrations,
perhaps
the trendof decreasingantagonismin inter-Korean
relationsis to be
is a powerful
one,and the
expected.The conceptofKoreanhomogeneity
narrative
of thepeninsula'sdivisionas a temporary
ofKorean
disruption
and
national
is
in
South
as
Korea, wellas in
identity
unity widelyaccepted
the North.83
In anycase,participation
"leftist"
forcesin the
bysupposed
of
South
Korea
has
and
thehitherto
political
process
legitimized popularized
or
muted
calls
for
the
and
better
relations
with
North, evenled
suppressed
to a changein the security
in Seoul, from
of
the
thinking
government
state
with
to
it
with
equating
security regimesecurity,identifying thesecurity
of all Koreans,wherevertheyare. One unqualifiedpositiveaspectof
democratization
iscertainly
thattradeandcontact
withtheerstwhile
"enemy"
can nowtakeplacebecausetheexistence
oftheregimein Seoulno longer
needstobe definedorjustified
withreference
tothepresenceof,orthreat
the
"Other."
Another
achievement
of
as Roh Taefrom,
democratization,
woo said in his inauguralpresidential
that
"the
was
address,
dayswhen
freedoms
and humanrightscould be slightedin thenameof economic
and nationalsecurity
haveended."84
growth
In assessing
inSouthKoreaoninter-Korean
theimpactofdemocratization
we are notarguingthatstrategic
factors
and theworldpolitical
relations,
environment
arelessimportant
thanthewillandskillofleadersinchanging
theircountry's
ordiplomatic
politicalsystem
justthattheyaremore
posture,
likeconstraints
on theactionsofleadersthatmaybe tighter
or looserat
A
different
of
Chun
Doo
orRohTae
time.
leader
like
Hwan
periods
political
Woocouldhardly
in effecting
havemadeso muchheadway
changes,ifthe
external
environment
had notbeenas favourable
as itwasattheendofthe
Cold War,whichshowedthatdemocraticchangescould resulteven in
totalitarian
leaderspushing
forinter-Korean
detente
were
However,
regimes.

83 RoyRichardGrinker,
KoreaandItsFutures:
andtheUnfinished
War(London:Macmillan
Unification
Press,1998),pp. 8-9.
84 Macdonaldet al., I heKoreans,
p. lbl.

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Relations
in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Democratization

moments
wesawthemusepolitical
so atcritical
notpassive,
openings
usually
at home to achievetheirforeignaffairs
or
providedbydemocratization
objectives.
diplomatic
doesnotmeanthatSeoul'sforeign
Ofcourse,achieving
democracy
policy
issettled
onceandforall.Leftist
direction
toward
groupsinSouth
Pyongyang
of Familiesof PoliticalPrisonersand the
Korea,suchas theAssociation
and Cooperation,
continueto call for
KoreanCouncilforReconciliation
the repealof theNationalSecurity
Law,whichstillallowsfordetention
in a way
withouttrialforpersonsdeemed to act or expressthemselves
of
a
thaw
between
North
toNorthKorea.85
Indeed,perception
sympathetic
summit
has
in
the
wake
of
the
andSouthKorea
June2000
encouragedthose
to
the
US
whohavealwaysopposed
troops'presence promotetheircause
of theSouthKoreanpublic.86
the
broad
morefervently
spectrum
among
forces
would
the
other
On
hand,rightist
verymuchliketo shutdownthe
thatbydoingso theywould
with
believing
Pyongyang,
process
engagement
NorthKorea.Thisconservative
socialmood
forcethecollapseofa bankrupt
hasbeenmaintained
a
of
outlets:
thecountry
within
byrightist
throughvariety
fromNorthKorea;87
ofrefugees
thecommunity
forces
within
bynewspapers
critics
ofthe"Sunshine
liketheChosun
IlboandDongaIlbo,whicharestrident
such
as
the
of National
and
Ministry
agencies
Policy;"88 bygovernment
Defenseand the NSP. These voicestend to come alive in responseto
for
actsfromtheNorth.89
Althoughthemoodin thecountry
provocative
the past 15 yearshas been more in favourof engagingNorthKorea
thaneverbefore,opinionon howto deal
and economically
diplomatically
withtheNorthhasbeenverymuchsplitsincetheadventofdemocratization
betweena hard-line
in SouthKorea.Thereis a dangerthatan oscillation
or
and moderatepolicytowardtheNorth,dependingon whichpresident
all
no
in
be
sound
and
is
would
fury,signifying lasting
power,
party
oftension
forSeoul asidefromsomegeneralrelaxation
accomplishments
on the Koreanpeninsula.Stochasticpersonality-based
policymakingin
to
a
certain
extent
the
moodof
the
to
North,
reflecting
prevailing
regards
be
a
feature
of
South
Korean
it
thecountry,
however,
politics;
may
regular
In
North
as
to
the
South's
intentions.
that
of
the
confuse
the
well
part
might
thiswouldbe wholly
whereso muchuncertainty
world,
unnecessary
prevails,
and unwelcome.
85 Macdonaldet al., TheKoreans.,
p. 138.
- DespiteImprovedN-Sties,theSouthneeds the
86 Han Sung-joo,"ThevalueofU.S. Military
Americantroops,"KOREANow,August12,2000,p. 10.
8V B. C. Koh,"Foreign
intheTwoKoreas,"
ofDomesticPoliticalDevelopments
PolicyImplications
International
ed.
Lee
and
Chonwook
inKoreans
in
a
Order,
HongYung
Chung
(Berkeley,
Options Changing
ofCalifornia,
ofEastAsianStudies,University
CA: Institute
1993),p. 104.
Berkeley,
88 Levinand Han, Sunshine
in Korea,
pp. 71-74.
89 Chung-inMoon, ArmsControl
on theKoreanPeninsula:International
Penetration,
RegionalDynamics,

andDomestic
Structure
Press,1996),chapter5.
(Seoul: YonseiUniversity

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Volume76,No. 1 - Spring2003
PacificAffairs:

SouthKoreanswhowouldliketo see thepolicyofreaching


Meanwhile,
out to theNorthcontinued,
wereheartenedbytheelectionofRoh Moo
Roh has a popularimage,especially
Hyunas theirpresident.
amongthe
forbeinga humanrightslawyer
youngand theprogressive,
representing
thoseopposingformer
President
Chun'smilitary
dictatorship.90
Ridingto
electoral
on a tideofanti-Americanism,
Rohwasalsoseenas labourvictory
and disposedtoa fairer
distribution
ofwealth.91
Almosthalfofthe
friendly
35 millionvoters
inthe2002presidential
electionwereintheirtwenties
and
and
over
60
of
them
voted
for
Roh.92
The
of
voters
thirties,
percent
majority
concurred
withRoh'sjudgmentthatcutting
offallaidtotheNorth
obviously
untilitabandonsitsnuclearprogramme,
as advocatedbyLee Hoi Chang
and the US Bush administration,
could provokea crisiswithdisastrous
consequences.
Duringtheelection,Rohwasportrayed
byLee's supporters
as a "dangerousradical,"93
becausehe wasseen bythemas theNorth's
candidateforhispastadvocacyofAmericanmilitary
withdrawal
preferred
fromSouthKorea.Indeed,althoughtheNorthhas repeatedly
castigated
Lee forhis"ColdWarmentality"
in "instigating
confrontation
betweenthe
twoKoreas,"itdidnotmakea singleremark
aboutRoh.94
South
Korea's
"Sunshine
continues
tocombinemilitary
Meanwhile,
Policy"
with
official
of
inter-Korean
contacts
vigilance
encouragement
bybusinesses
and civilians.
North
Korea's
nuclear
Southern
NGOs
Despite
brandishing,
are stillsendingtheNorthcornseeds,winterclothingand medicineas a
showofgoodwill.95
Roh hasindicateda willingness
to meetNorthKorean
leaderKimJong-il
to discusstheNorth'snucleardevelopment,96
although
he has also authorized
a jointexercisebetweentheUS and SouthKorean
militaries
scheduledforMarch2003.Roh opposedtheimposition
ofany
economicembargoon NorthKorea,stressing
that"themoretensethe
thegreater
theneedfora Sunshine
situation,
Pyongyang's
policy."97
Although
nuclearsabre-rattling
andWashington's
reluctance
toengageNorthKorea
on thisissuehavenotmadeSeoul'sefforts
at rapprochement
anyeasier,it
also revealedthestrength
ofthe"SunshinePolicy"and thedetermination
ofSouthKorea'sleadership
toproceedwithit.Evenafter
theannouncement
that
it
IAEA
was
cameras
the
from
byPyongyang
removing
%ngbyonnuclear
90 WuJingjing,
"FromCommonerto President,"
Review,
9, 2003,p. 10.
Beijing
January
91 The Economist,"Sorry,
no timefora honeymoon,"
December21, 2002.p. 23.
92 Asialnt-Political
Off
Review,
2003,p. 7.
Strategic
"January
"Kimjong-il's
DangerousBrinkmanship,
9^ TheEconomist,
no timefora honeymoon,December21,2002.p. 23.
Sorry,
94 StaffReporter, "Nationalism
thebiggestfactorin election:ChosunShinbo,"JoongAng
Ilbo,
Lastverified
2003.
5, 2003.<http://english.joins.com/.>
February
February
95 AidanFoster-Carter,
"Dr.Corncontinuesto helpKoreaheal,"in International
HeraldTribune,
February18,2003.p. 7.
96 StaffReporter,"Roh:foreignpolicytowardN.K., U.S. to remainthe same,"JoongAng
Ilbo,
December20,2002.
97 KimChong-hyuk,
Choi hoon, "President-elect
Roh opposes containment
JoongAng
policy,"
Ilbo,December31,2002.

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in SouthKoreaand Inter-Korean
Democratization
Relations

wasusedtoproduceweapons-grade
whichtheUS believed
facility,
plutonium,
Roh pledgedto finda peacefulsolutionto thesituation.98
Choe Song-ik,
thelatestNorthKoreanrepresentative
totheinter-Korean
ministerial
talks,
said thattwoKoreaswould continuewitheconomicprojectsalready
suchas thecross-border
andtheoverland
routetoMount
underway,
railways
toa recentpoll,nearly90 percentofSouthKorean
Kumgang."According
believetheycouldbe friends
withNorth
collegeand highschoolstudents
whilefour-fifths
ofthemsupport
reunification.100
Almost
55 percent
Koreans,
toa Chosun
Pollindicated
thattheydidnotbelieve
ofrespondents
Ilbo/Gallup
nuclearweaponsweretargeted
theSouth,as opposed
thattheNorth's
against
tolessthan28% whodid.101
inSouthKoreaalsoholdsvaluablelessons
ofpolitics
Thedemocratization
in
North
Korea
terms
of
for
dealingwiththevoters'emotionsregarding
Korean
North
incursions
acrosstheDMZwerewidely
theirformer
"enemy."
for
in the
to
have
consolidated
candidates
support anti-Pyongyang
thought
elections.
NorthKorea'sproposalto
1996SouthKoreanNationalAssembly
restart
talkswiththeSouthinSeptember
2002,on theeveofa no-confidence
and aftera hiatusof
voteagainstLimDongWonin theNationalAssembly
as a blatantattempt
sixmonths,
wasseenbymanylegislators
bytheNorthto
in theSouthKoreanpoliticalprocess,
withtheresultthatLimlost
interfere
thevoteandwasforcedtoresign.Ultimately,
perhapswhatdecideswhether
willbe iforwhentheprocess
theKoreanpeninsulaachievesreunification
takesplace in NorthKorea,thusmakingit politically
of democratization
forSouthKoreatounitewiththeNorth.Meanwhile,
NorthKorea
attractive
whatever
it
whether
it
be friendly
willhavetoacceptthereality
that,
offers,
and
of
its
or
threats
of
motives
fordoing
aggression, irrespective
dialogue
the
South
the
will
remain
with
Korean
authorities
to
initiative
maintain,
so,
inter-Korean
reduceorstrengthen
dialogue.And,toa largeextent,
theywill
be doingso in responsetopublicopinionandvoterpreferences.
2003
University,
Singapore,
February
NanyangTechnological

98 Asialnt,Political
"KimJong-il's
& Strategic
Review,
Dangerous"Brinkmanship,"
p.10.
99 StaffReporter"NorthKorea'sInter-Korean
Ilbo,'January
2, 2003
policyfor2003, JoongAng
Lastverified
2003.
February
<http://english.joins.com/.>
100Staff
"Poll:90 percentofstudents
withNorthKoreans,
saywecanbe friends
Reporter,
"JoongAng
ofNational
10,2003.The pollwasconductedbytheKoreanInstitute
Ilbo,(NorthKoreaNet),January
on 1125collegeand highschoolstudents,
Lastverified
Reunification
<http://english.joins.com/.>
2003.
February
101Hong YeongLim,"PollsShowsDivergent
GenerationGap,"Chosun
Ilbo,December31,2002.
The pollwasconductedon December24,2002on 1063adultsnationwide,
withan errormarginof3
percent at 95 percent confidence level, <http://srch.chosun.com/cgi-bin/english/
= english/
search?did = 55241&OP = 5&word = HONG%20YEONG%20LIM%20&name
2/
National&dtc=20021231&url=http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/20021
Last verified
200212310018.html&title=Poll%20Shows%20Divergent%20Generation%20Gap>
2003.
February

35

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