The modern history of Korea can be said to have begun in 1945 with the deeply emotional liberation from the Japanese colonial rule. A retrospective analysis reveals that the pattern of that history has assumed a distinctly dual character. On the one hand, the narrative has been scarred by the tragedy of national division, the brutality of civil war, and the widespread terror and suffocation of democracy inflicted by autocratic dictators and the institutions of a fascist state. This dark facets of Korea’ s recent past may be summarized as history of barbarism ‘a driven by insanity which witnessed countless sacrifices’On the . other hand, however, that history is also a proud testimony to the epic struggle by ordinary people in their determination to regain human dignity and replace oppression, exploitation, discrimination, and marginalization with true and universal

democracy. As the narrative unfolded, major political crises were encountered at approximately ten-year intervals. Following the political breakthrough in 1987 the country entered a period of transition from dictatorship to democracy which, itself, also contained elements of tension and conflict at various societal levels. The democratization in Korea was characterized by dynamic interactions between the state, political society, and social movements, but the fundamental force moving it forward was the pressure exerted from below. Both the initial inception and the continuing progress of democratization were possible only because of the presence of this powerful motive force. In

the sense that the attainment and maintenance of democracy requires rearrangement of the relationships between the state, political circles, and civil society, these imperatives were achieved in Korea by virtue of the momentum afforded by an irresistible dynamic. A more systematic understanding of democracy requires one to consider the democratic transition of a country from a viewpoint beyond individual events, such as the change from an authoritarian or military regime to a civilian or elected government, and to look at democratization movements in terms broader than popular resistance against dictatorship or the

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The masses who gathered together to commemorate the liberation.(1945, ⓒ Lee Kyung-mo)

struggle for the institutional democratization of the state. By the same token, the history of democratization in Korea should be seen as a macro-historical process that unfolded subsequent to national liberation, was characterized by reciprocal dynamics, and in which a wider range of movements coexisted and interacted with each other for the attainment of ‘socioeconomic democracy’ , ‘producer-oriented democracy’or , ‘democracy in the life-world’ . The Korean experience constitutes a veritable treasure house for theorization and inspiration for alternative perspectives on democracy; indeed, the democratization movement in Korea has attracted much attention from around the world for its resilience and militancy, and it has influenced similar movements in other countries. At a time of on-going transition, a need is also felt to reflect the significance of democratization in Korea in the context of the global history of democratization and, from that position, examine the alternatives for future progress. This study will first consider the ‘state-building’ period of 1945~1953; i.e. from the moment of liberation from colonial rule to the signing of the armistice at the end of the Korean War, in

the context of the consolidation of a cold war, division-defined, anti-communist system. It will then explain the course of democratization in the period immediately following; paying particular regard to the main actors and their objectives. The trajectory of democratization in Korea is, therefore, divided into three periods: the first of which extends from the commencement of the series of authoritarian dictatorships in the post-Korean War period to the ‘Gwangju Democratic Uprising in 1980. The second period is from May 1980 to June 1987, the time of the ‘June Struggle for Democracy’ and the third is from June , 1987 to the inauguration of President Roh Moo-hyun’ s administration in 2002.


From Liberation to Division of the Korean Peninsula

The liberation of Korea from the Japanese colonial rule on August 15, 1945 was the dawn of an epoch in which the old established colonial order would collapse and be replaced by a new structure. It was to be a time of all-out contests between various political and social forces regarding the precise extent of the abandonment of colonial mores and feudal legacies, and the detailed characteristics of the nation-state in the new order. Immediately after the cessation of colonial rule, the process of postcolonial state formation gave way to a progressive state led by left wing forces which, generally speaking, based their agendas on the interests and the aspirations of the Korean people. However, the American Military Government (AMG) was the external power imposed on Korea after liberation, and it became an instrument for pressing on Korea policies which served the interests of the United States. The AMG violently repressed and then totally destroyed the nascent state being formed by Koreans and replaced it with the ‘cold war, division-defined, anti-communist’ model alluded to above. Following this failure to establish a unified nationstate, Koreans watched the domestic contests taking place between diverse internal factions combining with interventions by foreign forces, and culminating in civil war. This process was not straightforward. It involved violent political and social confrontations nation-wide, and the forced
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had its roots in this short ‘liberation period’ between 1945 and 1950. right wing forces.dissolution of the ‘people’ s committees’ the . Also eradicated were the left wing opposition alliance that had been formed after liberation and the ‘anti-division’ nationalist opposition alliance that opposed the establishment of two governments on the Korean peninsula. The Korean War. The process was violent because it represented a ‘great ideological reversal’ the period immediately in following national liberation. This. rendered it possible for the institutions of the Republic of Korea to reiterate constantly the powerfully emotive concepts of anti- . ‘Cheju Island April 3 Struggle’ 1948. It was during this period that the organizations and the political and economic capacities of the working class. which had been growing since liberation. finally. which resulted in more than five million 52 human casualties and the devastation of almost the entire territory. and other popular elements. were destroyed. In Korea. that is. It was. and the explosion of most of the socio-political conflicts and contradictions that characterized the circumstance of two separate systems attempting to exist in what had so recently been one country. in turn. the culmination. ‘September General Strike’ and the ‘October People’ s Struggle’ in 1946. a mechanism for inculcating the politics of fear. a radical shift away from the political hegemony of the dominant left wing forces to that led by anti-communist. the fusion. in effect. the direct experience of such a war made it possible to utilize the ideology of anti-communism as a hegemonic tool for mobilizing passive popular consensus. the Korean War. the of ‘YeosooSuncheon Incident’ October of the in same year and. the .

Since the Korean War came to an end by armistice1. This was tantamount to the construction of an anti-communist regimented society. internalized. furthermore. pseudoconsensus dominated by the notion of ‘anti-communism for security’ which became the defining characteristic of social Korea Democracy Foundation relations and conduct for both individuals and groups. its influence long constituted a serious obstacle to democratization and democracy movement politics in Korea. surrender. Thus. The historical and structural conditions created by the imposition of this right wing dogma functioned as a most effective mechanism for rationalizing state violence and dictatorial rule. In other words. . the particular experience of the civil war was converted into an individualistic. the raft of implications stemming from the physical division of the peninsula. or the signing of a formal peace treaty. a state of war still technically exists between North and South Korea. would develop in Korea. biased towards the extreme right wing. It became an institutionalized construct whose salient features were based upon the consolidation of the cold war ethos. in terms of international law. 53 The First Period of Democratization 1 As opposed to capitulation. it was almost inevitable that a politically and ideologically asymmetric structure.communism and national security as ostensibly indisputable grounds for political legitimacy. and an anti-communist imperative so extreme that every member of society was required to exercise a mechanism of anti-communist selfcensorship.

Korea had become a national security state. the ability of civil society to restrain the state weakened markedly and the use of violence by agencies of the state became extensive. the capacity and capability of the nascent working class. The Rhee Syng-man Regime As has been noted. It should be noted that the huge ruling apparatus that had grown during the period of colonial rule was further reinforced during the Korean War. Following the division of the peninsula and the cultivation of an overtly anti-communist regimented society. Justified by its ‘anti-communism for security’ mantra. ⓒ Lee Kyung-mo) destroyed in the course of violent political confrontations conditioned by the exogenous influence of the AMG and by the social trauma of the Korean War. and was then able to blend seamlessly into the institutional structure of the security state. This is the location where the present Panmunjeom is located.3 A. and other extragovernmental popular sectors that had evolved via anti-imperialist national liberation movements was A helicopter aboard a United Nations Forces delegation to the armistice talks is taking off the ground to start for Gaeseong. while . the 54 character of a ‘right wing society without resistance . through a series of political levelling measures after the war. At the core of the coercive power of the security state were an enlarged police force and army. (1951. and terrorism was exercised widely by the First Republic administration led by Rhee Syng-man. The Republic of Korea has rapidly assumed. In the ’ process.

the Constitutional Jo Bong-am sitting in traditional Korean clothes at a court. The period of time from the liberation on August 15. political s institutions. the leader of the Progressive Party. resulting in a strange and unstable construct of democracy as the institutional framework and authoritarianism in all practical applications. the judicial murder of Jo Bong-am. A series of incidents during the period encapsulates how the Rhee regime systematically destroyed democratic constitutional order. it included the Busan political scandal of 1952. the National Security Act scandal in 1958. ⓒ Kim Chun-kil) 55 amendment scandal of 1954. in 1959 (see below). Liberal democracy.normal political processes such as party politics and parliamentary politics inevitably atrophied under the securityoriented dictatorship. In the Rhee Syng-man regime all power was concentrated in the hands of one person. As he assumed the authority of all administrative power and was located above all parliamentary restraint. including the Constitution. remained democratic in shape. the expressed prime objective of the state. 1945 to the April Revolution in 1960 is . The irony is that this was all done in the name of democracy. and the closure of the Gyung-hyang Daily newspaper in the same year. his influence became privatized and personified. the president. (1958. became the disguise of a philosophy that destroyed democracy and individual freedom Korea Democracy Foundation rather than promoted them. but the actual practices were conducted in an authoritarian fashion. Under Rhee’ rule.

and a deepening of the national division. this success alarmed the established . During the period that followed the Korean War. (1960. while on the other there was the popular opposition and resistance to that authority and division. led by Jo Bong-am. ⓒ Kim Chun-kil) languished because of the severity of social conditions created by the war and the impositions of a security-oriented dictatorship. The Progressive Party appealed to the public by pursuing a third line. detached from both the capitalist system of the South and the socialist system of the North. Two exceptions to the suppression of movement activities were the 56 Progressive Party. The Progressive Party emerged after the war and began to threaten the conservative political framework put in place by the Liberal Party and the Democratic Party. the Progressive Party proved its eponymous potential in the legitimate political space by securing an astounding 2. However. In the presidential election of 1956.marked by two opposing histories.16 million votes. by advocating policies under the banner of peaceful reunification and the realiszation of rights and interests of victimized people. and the April 19 Revolution (see below). on one side there was the dictatorial rule dependent upon foreign support. movement politics Citizens watching the removal of the Rhee Syngman Statue.

It is a salutary reflection of the entire political landscape of the time. bribery. the Korean people succeeded in deposing a despotic power for the first time in history. At his trial. demanding the abolition of the dictatorship and the achievement of democracy. finally. An Korea Democracy Foundation unprecedented plethora of corruption scandals and election frauds provided the trigger for what became known as ‘the April Revolution’ following month. 57 . the indictment of its leader.conservative political forces. After suffering 186 deaths and 6. Witnessing at first hand the blatant contradiction between their ‘ideal’ American liberal of democracy and the Korean reality of Rhee’ dictatorship. gain their acquiescence. in so doing. Repercussions from the political backwardness prevalent during the Rhee Syng-man regime’ First Republic burst to the s surface in the general election on March 15. on a charge of espionage on behalf of North Korea. which eventually initiated a police round-up of all Progressive Party cadres. Jo Bong-am. and was thus effectively removed from the political scene. In the April Revolution sustained protests by students and citizens finally brought down the Rhee Syng-man administration. This incident clearly demonstrated and reaffirmed. Jo was sentenced to death. so s plainly manifested in the widespread electoral corruption. the cancellation of the party registration and. 1960. Rhee and his ruling party the staged massive operations in a concerted effort to fabricate convincingly an election victory. university students took to the streets in force. by dint of the tacit approval of the opposition party and the silent majority. including administrative intimidation. mobilizing all possible means. and direct violence against the opposition.026 injured protesters across the country. the potency of the anti-communist ethic and the extent to which it could instil fear in the minds of political opponents and the wider population and.

on October 26. it was a regime which revised the old. as diverse conflicts and confrontations were created by the rapid . Kim Jae-gyu. this approach opened up a ‘developmental era’ which a new national mobilization was in possible. after a year of drifting in confusion. His protracted stewardship would be brought to a premature end by his assassination at the hands of one of his closest colleagues. 1961. For the next 18 years Park would rule the country with an iron hand. established in the socio-political space created by the April Revolution. and combined them with a more positive imperative for ‘modernization’ through state-led economic development plans. Park Chung-hee : Developmental Dictatorship and a Dark Age for Democracy (i) From military coup to October Yushin The Jang Myeon government. and which led to the defining of the regime as a ‘developmental dictatorship. negative. The coup was led by General Park Chunghee and marked the end of Korea s very ’ first experiment with parliamentary democracy. 1979. on the one hand. anti-communist objectives of the state. In effect. The military regime that was put in place by the May 58 coup was characterised. by features of a security-oriented dictatorial rule inherited from the Rhee Syngman era and translated into a ‘military dictatorship’On the . and establish himself as a seminal figure in the shaping of modern Korea.B. other hand. was overthrown by military coup on May 16.’ was in this period that the It tension between dictatorship and democracy burgeoned.

consolidate his regime’ highly tenuous political legitimacy and s thereby sustain its authority to govern. ⓒ Kim Chun-kil) Korea Democracy Foundation growth of a state-led capitalist economy. Political changes prior to this period were the outcomes of political conflict between the actual authoritarian rule and the ideal of liberal democracy. whereas political changes from this point began to assume a much more complex and violent nature because of new tensions created by capitalist industrialization.Park Chung-hee and coup d'etat leading figures watching a street parade by the Military Academy cadets ′ supporting the military coup. Park Chung-hee tried to transform latent national energy into a positive and determined drive for economic development by means of a new state hegemony project under the general banner of ‘modernization’ and the more specific rallying cry ‘escape from absolute poverty’In this way he hoped to . Park exerted maximum control over the labor sector and managed the wider Korean society in a regimental way in order to ensure minimal obstruction in the regime’ path toward the achievement of its s main goal of rapid economic growth. He also strove for a total mobilization of the nation towards this objective by suppressing 59 . (1960.

. This dynamic was conducted under The opening ceremony of a National Athletic Meeting displaying Park Chung-hee's name in a card section. The fact that the 18 years of Park’ rule represented a s ‘golden age of imprisonment’ during which Korean criminal institutions were . ‘miracle of the Han River’ was done by a combination of modernization from above and a significant level of popular support.any divisions within the ruling power bloc. and was a manifestation of their greed for power. and the Constitutional ‘coup in office’ 1969 of which enabled him to serve for a previously prohibited third term. economic compensation being gained in exchange for the deferral of political freedom. one outcome of which was a sort of exchange relation between economic interest and political interest. that is. In fact. The climax of Park Chung-hee’ dictatorial rule was the s declaration of the Yushin (revitalizing reform) Constitution and the imposition of the Yushin regime in October 1972. it was the third coup engineered by Park in his efforts to suffocate democracy. has its roots in the same background of public acceptance and silence. (1960. following the May military coup of 1961. ⓒ Kim Chun-kil) banners such as ‘modernization of the fatherland’ ‘total and unity’The so-called . and scorning the demands for democracy emanating from the populace. The Yushin regime can only be described as a historical crime committed by Park and his acolytes. filled with unfortunate individuals against whom the state fabricated charges involving contraventions of national security 60 laws.

torture. The process was presented to the populace as ‘democracy the Korean way’Under the provisions of the Yushin . resulted in a marked diminution of social integrity. and association. which in normal circumstances would serve the principles of division. and the politics of dialogue and compromise. Despite the blatant illegality of the majority of these repressive activities conducted by agents of the state. . and the severe limitation of numerous basic freedoms including those of expression. the main feature of the Yushin regime was the overt concentration of all power in the President’ hands and the concomitant dismantling of all s institutional arrangements that were designed to prevent such a circumstance. with virtually no conventional checks and balances in place. the mutual constraint of power. together with police and military security forces. Intelligence agencies routinely monitored the day-to-day lives of ordinary citizens and. assembly. Although the Yushin Constitution ostensibly prescribed democratic parliamentary procedures.In terms of power structure. any attempts by the populace to express political freedoms and the rights of Korea Democracy Foundation citizenship were instantly repressed and labelled an ‘excess of politics’The extreme concentration of power during this period . the media. they were overtly used as 61 2 The practice of courts routinely to award the sentence demanded by the state prosecutors in the initial indictment rather than use judicial discretion. In reality. regime. was comparable to that of an absolute monarch. the subjugation of the judicial system (epitomized by ‘show’ trials and a rigidity of sentencing2). a phenomenon which was clearly reflected in a dysfunctional parliament. South Korea was a republic in name only. carried out widespread and arbitrary arrests. as well as a serious reduction of basic labor rights. the extent of the power wielded by the President alone. and kidnapping of anyone regarded as a political or social threat.

During the Park era. was the severest. In addition. a state of martial law was declared on three occasions. for a total of 69 months. ‘seditious’or . pretending not to hear anything of a sensitive’ ‘ nature. the 10 billion dollar export plan. often accompanied by state indoctrination. 1975. In the cities it was more akin to a government-led mobilization. the Great Leap of the 1970s. or say anything that could possibly be construed as seditious or inflammatory.terror. and the Great Ambition of the 1980s4 were symbols of hegemonic domination. In rural areas it was aimed mainly at the modernization of rural life and economy. 9. In order to avoid violation of any of the provisions in this decree. In the Park Chung-hee system of governance. covering 31 months in all. s . development goals such as the Saemaul (new village) Movement3. In the ‘age of repression. It can only be assumed that it did not appear abnormal to Park and his followers that for almost half of the 18 years in which he was in power the Korean people were subjected to the imposition of harsh and repressive ‘emergency’ legislation. citizens 62 had to conduct themselves almost like imbeciles. virtually anything could be interpreted as ‘sensitive’ . and effectively placed the entire nation in a wartime state of alert. and Emergency Decrees nine times. 4 Themes of Park Chung-hee’ speeches. with programmes ranging from cultural reform to income enhancement guidance. 3 The rural community development campaign initiated and led by Park Chung-hee in the 1970s. while Presidential Emergency Decrees. and death’ that Park Chung-hee had created. ‘inflammatory’ . Among the legislative instruments. Garrison Decrees were imposed three times.mechanisms to justify the role of the regime in maintaining national security. Garrison Decrees. and the imposition of Martial Law were symbols of the state oppression that ran in parallel. issued on May 13. lasting for five months altogether. Emergency Decree No.

and political milieu like this that extraordinary incidents could occur. the purge of the Democratic Youth and Students Alliance (1974). sustainable only for as long as it could maintain a level of economic growth sufficient to meet the demands of the imagined new society of the ‘affluent 1980s’ and continue to suppress even the smallest . At the same time. therefore. it assumed the characteristics of an inflexible polity. it was a highly vulnerable system. into a realm where the state authority infiltrated every corner of civil society to both control it. By the same token. the state’ routine s invocation of the threat of communism effectively blocked Figures involved in the People Revolutionary Party Incident.(1975) any popular demand for democratic participation in the political process. the mysterious death of dissident leader Jang Jun-ha (1975). deficient of a self-rectifying mechanism to resolve social conflict. and the fabricated case of attempted 63 . The Yushin regime functioned in a manner that extended beyond the routine infliction of violence by the state on its citizens. such as the kidnap and attempted murder of Kim Dae-jung (1973).(ii) Movement politics and the end of Park’ rule s Throughout the Park Chung-hee era. Lacking the pluralistic political representation of diverse social interests and. and especially during the Yushin period (post1972). internal disagreement or external instability. and stifle its potential. It was in a social. the appeals for equal opportunity of ‘growth’ and ‘national security’ exercised a similar restriction on the citizens’ legitimate ambitions for the Korea Democracy Foundation restoration of their rights. economic.

Park’ distortion of nationalism and democracy was not s without resistance. justify the execution of the 1961 military coup and the rule of the military junta. As these and other events gradually deepened the crisis of political legitimacy. that included a ‘funeral march of national democracy’ . or face a catastrophic end. girl workers who have transferred their sit-in protest location to the New Democratic Party building. . however. But the regime also faced the need to employ a ‘democratic discourse’ that would differentiate it from the Rhee 64 Syng-man administration. however.YH Trading Co. it was a discourse centred upon the ‘sacrifice of democracy’ the or ‘inevitability of dictatorship’and used . ‘national democracy’ ‘Korean democracy’ or . whereas in fact it was a statist mobilization of the people in the name of democracy. both extreme: to continue the all-out drive for economic growth. and Park’ s eventual dictatorship. the Park regime was left with only two options. ‘democracy’ merely as a name and a cover. (1979) re-establishment of the People’ Revolutionary Party (1974) and s the execution of its members. It was referred to as ‘administrative democracy’ . for it gained critical civil responses such as the surge of demonstrations against the Korea-Japan 5 Meeting. In essence.

resources essential for continued economic growth in Korea. and popular demonstrations against the Constitutional amendment in 1969. of 1964. thereby sowing the seed of its eventual collapse. the more resolute the resistance became. and against the Constitutional amendment of 1969 because of the regime’ s Korea Democracy Foundation disregard of democratic procedures. The regime brought the public protest to an end on 3 June 1964 by declaring a state of martial law and arresting 348 protest leaders. . 6 A series of demonstrations from March to June 1964 protesting against the first ROKJapan treaty meeting. By signing an agreement of war reparation with Japan. the Yushin regime dealt with internal contradictions in such a way as to promote a counterforce. Nation-wide opposition was The martial law soldiers who have occupied downtown Busan streets by mobilzing tanks and armored cars on the proclamation of martial law. the Park regime sought a diplomatic breakthrough accompanied by a substantial aid package. and combined efforts to protect the right to livelihood.and the June 3 Struggle6. are cases in point. As an explicit dictatorship. Examples such as the students’ opposition to military training as part of the curriculum. Such internal 65 5 The most symbolic demonstration led by university students during the June 3 Struggle. the movement to uphold university campus autonomy. After the Yushin reforms were declared. One oppositional action inspired others. (1979) expressed against the Korea-Japan Meeting because of the humiliating diplomacy of the Park government. The more the state attempted to repress these developments. various pro-democracy protests. various social groups and sectors began to express their antagonism and resistance to the regime.

when young woman workers at the YH company Trade Union went on strike in 1979 demanding basic rights7. and had striven towards the common goals of toppling the military dictatorship and restoring political democracy. With respect to the democratization movement of this period. who usually organised themselves within universities and religious institutions. 8 Wide-spread protests in the cities of Pusan and Masan in October 1979 against the Park regime. for example. This characteristic is related to the leading actors in the movement. the ‘One Million Appeal for Constitutional Revision’ (1973) and the ‘March 1st Declaration for Democracy and National Salvation’ (1976). the collapse of the Yushin regime. who could not be regarded as ‘social forces’ rooted in the working class. This triggered the assassination of Park Chung-hee on 26 October 1979 and. First. but who were. and certainly unprecedented in other parts of the world.tensions multiplied and. Second. It is 66 uncommon. a wig manufacturer. all of whom were striving for freedom from want and other 7 A sit-in strike in August 1979 staged by trade union members of the YH Trading Company. and the urban poor. in turn. The strike was held inside the headquarters of the main opposition party. it was frequently presented in terms designed for a broad and diverse appeal. and anti-government riots broke out in the cities of Busan and Masan8. two features stand out. farmers. liberal-minded ‘dissident’ intellectuals and students. concurrently there was an active pro-democracy movement consisting of workers. As a consequence. in the main. for a strong collective resistance to be formed from scattered and sporadic actions occurring mostly in universities and religious institutions. the ruling bloc split over how to handle the crisis. Workers demanded guarantees of basic rights after the company decided to close down the business. . until the time of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising in May 1980 (see below) the movement had unfolded with a fundamental adherence to liberalism.

It began with the demand to introduce direct elections for cooperative leadership. s triggered by the government’ failure to purchase the promised amount of sweet s potatoes from the growers. and sparked wider criticism of the government-sponsored Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU). such as the Ham-pyong Protest for Compensation for Sweet Potatoes10 in 1976. and presaged the birth of independent. 10 Wide-spread protest by farmers against the government’ agricultural policies in 1976. the Dong-il Textiles Union struggle to uphold its independence. The stage for democratic trade unionism was set by such actions as the formation of the Chonggye Garment Union (1970). democratic trade unionism in Korea.objectives encapsulated in social and economic democracy. 67 9 Riot staged by the urban poor who had been forcibly evicted from various squatter areas in Seoul by the city authority and relocated in sub-human living conditions in the Gwangju area. Chun Tae-il. (1970) liberation. and the farmers’ cooperatives democratization movement11. Chun Tae-il’ sacrifice also s galvanised workers in Seoul’ sweat-shop clothing factories to s action. This element found expression in the Gwangju Housing Complex Riot9 in 1971. which was the largest collective action by the urban poor since Yi So-sun sobbing in sorrow with her son's portrait at the funeral ceremony of worker Chun Tae-il. The self-immolation of Korea Democracy Foundation the young garment industry worker. 11 Most farmers’cooperatives were ineffective until voluntary farmers’groups staged this campaign in the 1980s. and demonstrations by farmers. in 1970 graphically and tragically drew attention to the dire situation of thousands of young female workers in the industry. .

s and the activities of the YH Union (see above). 1979. between workers and students. and other grassroots disadvantaged. Multiple Coup d’ and the May 18 etat ′ Gwangju People’ Struggle s The assassination of Park Chunghee on October 26. and incorporate more concrete issues such as the right to livelihood of workers. His death forced liberal movement forces to reflect upon their existing minimalist democratic agendas. a ‘new military’ faction. a manifestation of the crisis of developmental dictatorship. Chun’ s action also became the seed for a new social alliance. consisting of members of a group within the Korean army which went under the title of the ‘Society of One’ that took power by a series of coup d’ (the . etat ′ . created a power vacuum and a position of stalemate between contending forces which is often called the ‘Spring in Seoul’It was .the worker’ rights struggle at the Han-gook Textiles Company. 4 68 The Second Period of Democratization A. the urban poor. as well as a pivotal moment after which intellectuals became engaged in the industrial sectors. Chun Tae-il’ s action not only signalled the start of the democratic labor movement. and religious groups expanded into industrial mission work. but also resulted in a far deeper awareness of social reality on the parts of leading figures in the pro-democracy and other progressive social movements.

as well as a pivotal moment after which intellectuals became engaged in the industrial sectors. a ‘new military’ faction. consisting of members of a group within the Korean army which went under the title of the ‘Society of One’ that took power by a series of coup d’ (the . 1979.the worker’ rights struggle at the Han-gook Textiles Company. between workers and students. Chun’ s action also became the seed for a new social alliance. His death forced liberal movement forces to reflect upon their existing minimalist democratic agendas. 4 68 The Second Period of Democratization A. etat ′ . but also resulted in a far deeper awareness of social reality on the parts of leading figures in the pro-democracy and other progressive social movements. Multiple Coup d’ and the May 18 etat ′ Gwangju People’ Struggle s The assassination of Park Chunghee on October 26. created a power vacuum and a position of stalemate between contending forces which is often called the ‘Spring in Seoul’It was . Chun Tae-il’ s action not only signalled the start of the democratic labor movement. s and the activities of the YH Union (see above). and other grassroots disadvantaged. and incorporate more concrete issues such as the right to livelihood of workers. a manifestation of the crisis of developmental dictatorship. and religious groups expanded into industrial mission work. the urban poor.

(1980) longest recorded coup in the world) and filled the void left by the late Park Chung-hee. The group was led by Generals Chun Korea Democracy Foundation Doo-hwan and Roh Tae-woo. 69 . obstacle in its path to power consisted of the popular forces opposing it. the dynamics of these two changes would become decisive in defining political change in Korea. and the developmental. ‘Spring in Seoul. 1980 was part of the process of the subjugation of those popular forces by the ‘new military’The regime. with Chun Doo-hwan at its head. did not merely end in tragedy. it destroyed the ’ new military’ ambition to seize power without resistance. From that time onwards. Gwangju triggered both the state and the pro-democracy movements to intensify their antagonism against each other: state repression heightened to an unprecedented level. now . The bloody confrontation in Gwangju which began on May 18. and popular resistance intensified to a similar degree. ‘Gwangju of May 1980’being the final chapter of the . and s forced the military to pay a huge cost for its successes. For the ‘new military’the last .The martial law soldiers pointing rifles at young high school student. emerged victorious. dictatorial state constructed by Park Chung-hee was restored and temporarily fortified.

the central motive force came from the collective memory of the Gwangju massacre in May 1980 and the deep rage it generated. it was the particularly repressive system of domination in Chun Doo-hwan’ Fifth s 70 Republic that actually produced it and. In other words. from the perspective of the movement agency. First and foremost it generated an awareness that the movement thus far had not developed into a force sufficient to transform either the state or the power system within it. it . (1987.The June Struggle in 1980 was a flood in a vast expanse which had shown that the people's aspirations lied in democratization. the realization dawned that while the movement had expressed conscientious and moral criticism of oppressive political power and economic inequality. Movement Politics and the Pro-democracy Struggle While it was national division and capitalist industrialization that together conditioned the democratization movement in the 1980s on a macro level. ⓒ Kim Chun-kil) B. The Gwangju carnage was a critical moment for selfreflection on the parts of all those involved in the democratization movement.

These movements emerged as a direct result of the radicalism produced by the Gwangju massacre in 1980. and had demonstrated the potential of the Korean populace to fundamentally transform the state. Korea Democracy Foundation There was. progressive. a continuation of the prodemocracy movement from the first period focusing on changing the fascist. What was lacking was the quality of leadership to provide a central focus for mass struggle as well as bring unity and direction to the spontaneous. Similar to the previous period. the movement was led by 71 . this period also witnessed various other radical democratization movements being set in motion and pursuing a more fundamental and comprehensive transformation of the state and society. naturally.had lacked both the intent and a fully coherent formula for changing the social structure and creating an alternative system. The movement in the 1980s differed from that of the first period in that it expanded its popular base. democratic. new national liberation movements emerged that stressed national reunification and independence from foreign influence. At the same time. military dictatorship into a democratic polity. On the one hand. Such change in perception was accompanied by a spread of distrust and withdrawal of confidence in regard to the actual leaders of the democratization movement in the 1970s. dispersed. and became more radical in its ideological orientation. showed more militancy in its methods. Those involved then came to reflect upon the movement’ lack s of leadership of the calibre necessary to convert the energy and dynamics manifested in spontaneous activities at the grassroots into a system-transforming movement. The people’ struggle in s Gwangju was the epitome of revolutionary upheaval. and sporadic protests of diverse groups. while on the other. transformative movements came into being and pursued socio-economic democracy and producer-based democracy from a class perspective. however.

As a social group effectively free from existential conditions. The most efficiently organized force was made up of student groups who. gathered together at the Square in front of Seoul City Hall. defined the Chun Doo-hwan regime as 72 anti-reunification and anti-democracy. as far as they were concerned the Chun regime was devoid of legitimacy. the core of the leadership was no longer composed of the liberal elements of the previous period but was now dominated by new. students formed their resistance to the status quo from their sense of debt to ‘Gwangju’ and their discontent at the gulf between the reality of life and their ethical ideals and standards. When a campus . as a backdrop to the emergence of a distinct atmosphere of overt anti-Americanism. (1987) students and supported by intellectuals and religious groups. from the outset. However.Citizens crying for democracy. radical. and its collapse was a primary objective. There was no room for moderation in the minds of students integral to these movements. democratic figures who led the struggle against dictatorship in an uncompromising way. Almost all student-led demonstrations prior to 1987 echoed with the battle-cry ‘Remember Gwangju’ and the memory of Gwangju also served .

Together with the growth of the student movement.autonomy measure was introduced. and systematically supporting all spontaneous popular protests. various dissident groups such as religious associations. proKorea Democracy Foundation democracy and reunification movements which had emerged 12 since the ‘appeasement period’ of 1984. student movements gained a wider mass base on the campuses and challenged the stability of the Fifth Republic by carrying out large-scale mobilization. cultural. academics. Identifying democracy and reunification as its two main objectives. . and in large numbers shifted their spheres of activities to factories and farms. Such a large number of university students abandoning their upward trajectory on the social and professional ladder in order 73 12 This refers to the period when the regime relaxed somewhat its persecution of alleged dissidents. The ‘Youth Alliance for Democratization Movement’ was established in 1983. and ex-journalists began to set up prodemocracy organizations. the latter organization provided a central leadership for many of the grassroots. this grouping set constitutional reform for a direct presidential election as the main item on the agenda for democratization. and played a pivotal role in leading the June Democratic Struggle in 1987. in the name of ‘existential relocation’ . and print media movements focused upon democratic values. taking a determined lead in political struggles. and the ‘Alliance of People’ Movements for Democracy and s Reunification’ was set up in 1985 as an umbrella organization for a number of separate movements. One notable phenomenon concerning popular movements in the 1980s was that students and intellectuals began deliberately to ally with workers and other grassroots elements. From 1986. etc. writers. This period also saw a wide expansion of educational.

the labor movement was led by 74 workers at their places of work. when farmers launched nation-wide protests against US pressure to open up . The labor movement in the 1980s began with the establishment of the Korea Workers Welfare Council in 1984. and in that year staged the first solidarity strike since 1960. an organization that became a model of ‘mass political organization’ . following the degrading revisions of labor legislation and the forced dissolution of democratic trade unions by the Chun regime. In the first period. Serious confrontations between Korean farmers and governmental authorities began in April 1985. (1987) to become factory workers or agricultural laborers was a manifestation with few equivalents outside Korea. The strike resulted in the formation of the Seoul Labor Movement Alliance. From 1985 the mass-based trade union movement gained considerable momentum.A large-scale struggle by workers who have mobilized heavy machinery. and focused more on the provision of worker’ citizenship and improvements to working s conditions rather than on realizing workers’ class interests. in the Guro industrial area of Seoul.

As soon as the June 29 Declaration13 was broadcast. democracy. and despite leaving many issues unresolved. Meanwhile. For a period of three months. averaging 30 per day. Clashes between protesters and municipal authorities sometimes resulted in the deaths of local residents. and included the s re-establishment of direct presidential elections as its main concession. Waves of protests and resistance involving various sectors culminated in June 1987 with a nation-wide uprising against the Chun Doo-hwan regime. and encompassing 75 13 This was Chun Doo-hwan’ response to the nation-wide protests. It was.the Korean agricultural market. . cause. The mass mobilization. the capital city. in a sense. in a broadly based movement that transcended regional. under the leadership of the ‘National Movement Headquarters for Attaining a Democratic Constitution’ . it undoubtedly heralded the advent of a new age in Korea. The June Democratic Struggle gave voice to millions of people and constituted the first definitive step towards democratization. factional. Although it did not result in the actual establishment of a democratic government. The incoming tide of democratization was now unstoppable.311 labor disputes. created the biggest oppositional alliance that the regime had Korea Democracy Foundation faced. a ‘nationaliszation of Gwangju’as Korean people rose up for one . and class boundaries. and focused initially on protests against the city administration’ s unilateral and violent drive to redevelop poor districts. the history of the Korean labor movement. industrial workers submitted their demands in the newly opened political space in what came to be known as the ‘JulySeptember Great Workers’ Struggle’ the largest mass action in . more than a million workers participated in a total of 3. and exerted huge pressure for radical change on the military rule. the urban poor movement evolved predominantly in Seoul.

and for which solidarity among democratic trade unions would remain a primary goal. (1988) 76 every industrial sector. An even more important outcome of this experience was that those in the labor movement realized the importance of a central body to organize democratic trade unions. increasing markedly both the unionisation rate and the number of trade unionists. . This resulted in revisions to labor laws and the formation of some 1.A national workers convention for inheriting martyr Chun Tae-il's spirit and amending evil labor acts.200 new trade unions.

it was a time when socialist states were collapsing and the tide of neo-liberal globalization was rising. As the space within which institutional politics and civil society functioned became more open and accessible. as the logic of neo-liberal globalization was 77 . Furthermore. the environment. Korea was transformed from an ‘exceptional’ developmental.5 The Third Period of Democratization A. the key concern of society shifted away from ‘restoration of democracy’ ‘democratic reform’ to . a fact evidenced by the inter-Korean summit in 2000 and the commencement of Geumgang Mountain tourism. The events in 1987 were the precursors for changes in the modes of Korean politics and the regulation of social conflicts. Features of Democratic Transition The political change in 1987 occurred in an environment where contradictions and tensions. As the military retreated from power. Also. First. had accumulated. from a wider perspective. dictatorial state into a ‘normal’ capitalist state. mediated by social and class struggles. Korean society became less inclined to give credence to cold war anti-communism. the gender gap. if not in actual retreat. as well as in Korea Democracy Foundation the strategies of popular resistance. the transition to democracy was placed in jeopardy. began to emerge. There were several key features manifest in this period. stemming from both a repressive political system and the ramifications of capitalist development. and discrimination against minorities. various forms of previously suppressed social antagonism concerning issues such as regionalism.

and were limited by macro conditions of a transitional era. undertaken up by these liberal-oriented governments lacked thoroughness. ‘participatory government’ However. involving a broad social spectrum. ‘government of the nation’ and . On the other hand. the transition to democracy in Korea can also be characterized as a ‘reproduction of the ruling power through transformative reconfiguration of the ruling bloc’ a in process of ‘conservative democratization from the top’The . the 78 intensity of state repression decreased and the basic rights of citizens. causing some observers to describe the resultant clash as ‘economic liberalization promoted. The central problem was that the requisite scope of the rearrangement of existing power was not matched by the degrees of support and motivational impetus emanating from the predominantly conservative political representation. social democratization delayed’ . In other words. largely because they were promoted from top down. This socio-political process was one facet of the transformative rearrangement of the ruling system. the conservative ruling system had to undergo a transformative rearrangement in order to gain new political legitimacy and stability. it sparked an institutional rationalization process in which the state attempted to restrain the radical or revolutionary components of the movement politics and selectively incorporate popular protests and radical movements into institutional politics.uncritically introduced. It is true that since the democratic transition began. situation precluded existing institutional politics controlled by an authoritarian state from continuing. on the . in a liberal democratic sense. while on the other. reforms . were expanded by ideologically liberal governments. Therefore. on the one hand the democratic transition that had commenced in 1987 facilitated a dynamic burgeoning of movement politics. each of which identified itself in terms such as ‘civilian government’ .

too generous in the compromises they struck with ‘status quo-oriented’ elements. including intensified social conflict. at the same time. and the establishment of a vicious cycle of crises of participation and crises of representation became inevitable.contrary. the governments who proclaimed democratic credentials were. The normalization of politics and the accommodation of pluralistic competition was repeatedly delayed. therefore. in practice. In effect. B. in the general developmental path of Korean society. was causing ‘political lag’ and constituted a bottle-neck . previously suppressed. and one that was patently incapable of effectively representing civil society. As long as the conservative-dominated party system remained intact. In other words. The political representation neither Korea Democracy Foundation reflected adequately the new economic realities nor the new social and class divisions in society and. movements for political 79 . fuelling region-based factionalism and socio-cultural regionalism in the process. and rapid growth of civil society. it manifested its discrepancies in proportion to the acceleration of class differentiation. The political system was increasingly seen as a cartel which excluded elements deserving of inclusion. failed to mediate in the clash of competing interests or demands. the growth of democracy in Korea was suspended. restoration of progressive political forces. period of democratization various aspects of social activism increased as the ‘legal space’ expanded as a result of changes brought about by the June Struggle. it became obvious that political conservatism. sustained and fostered by the transformative rearrangement of state power. Differentiation and Development of the Democratization Movement In the third. and the extant conservative political representation thrived in the resultant vacuum.

In effect. As long as the conservative-dominated party system remained intact. in practice. The normalization of politics and the accommodation of pluralistic competition was repeatedly delayed. In other words. and the establishment of a vicious cycle of crises of participation and crises of representation became inevitable. B. Differentiation and Development of the Democratization Movement In the third. it became obvious that political conservatism. previously suppressed. fuelling region-based factionalism and socio-cultural regionalism in the process. and the extant conservative political representation thrived in the resultant vacuum. it manifested its discrepancies in proportion to the acceleration of class differentiation. and rapid growth of civil society.contrary. was causing ‘political lag’ and constituted a bottle-neck . therefore. the governments who proclaimed democratic credentials were. at the same time. in the general developmental path of Korean society. movements for political 79 . failed to mediate in the clash of competing interests or demands. period of democratization various aspects of social activism increased as the ‘legal space’ expanded as a result of changes brought about by the June Struggle. sustained and fostered by the transformative rearrangement of state power. including intensified social conflict. The political system was increasingly seen as a cartel which excluded elements deserving of inclusion. The political representation neither Korea Democracy Foundation reflected adequately the new economic realities nor the new social and class divisions in society and. restoration of progressive political forces. and one that was patently incapable of effectively representing civil society. too generous in the compromises they struck with ‘status quo-oriented’ elements. the growth of democracy in Korea was suspended.

students. Two salient features characterized the first part of the third period of democratization. joint inter-Korean gatherings. and radical intellectuals and a newly reactivated reunification movement promoting information sharing on North Korea. the social movements consisting of grassroots people such as workers and farmers became central to the radical movement politics. while on the other there were radical elements promoting socio-economic democratization. divided into two. producer democracy. Composed mainly of workers. until which time the radical proA press conference by the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. and democratization of international relations. civic exchanges. from the early 1990s to the present time. etc. democracy movement continued to play a central role in movement politics. the pro-democracy movements. The third period is divided into two sub-periods in the early 1990s. A new social movement emerged in this period in the form of a ‘civil’ movement’but it did not have a great impact in the early . which had thus far converged into one in the fight against dictatorship. On the one side there 80 were liberal forces whose main interest was to democratize political institutions.democratization continued. As political democratization progressed over time. In the second sub-period. reinforcing the more traditional student and intellectual groups. pro-democracy activism focussing on . several changes have taken place within the democratization movement. stages. farmers. Firstly. Secondly.

progressive political parties. In another regard. the collapse of European socialist states and the global rise of neo-liberal capitalism so had a wider effect on Korean society that it became more conservative. Through continuing struggle and political awareness.anti-dictatorship became weaker. Other efforts to democratize the economic base also underwent significant changes. a labor organization that was to become a leading actor in the democratization movement. most notably with the formation of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU). The civil’ movement played a leading role in the areas of political and post-democratization issues. the class-based mass movement progressed rapidly. with the most notable changes being the decline of the student movement and its replacement by the civil’ movement and class-based mass movement. and. Wider socio-political discourses waned due to the effects of the progress of democratization in state power as well as that of the collapse of the socialist bloc. In one regard. while the class-based movement or people’ movement was most s influential in issues surrounding socio-economic and produceroriented democracy and the democratization of foreign policy. previously ignored and marginalized. the People’ Victory s 81 . A key feature of this period is that the post-democracy agenda. gender discrimination. triggering various post-democracy social Korea Democracy Foundation movements. the labor movement in particular became the base for the establishment of independent. put the radical intellectual movement in crisis and disarray. homosexuality. assumed greater prominence. There was also an important shift in the cast of main actors in the democratization movement. as did the so-called ‘all-out people’ resistance’ s line. in the process. Diverse citizens’ movements emerged in the space created and took up issues such as environmental degradation. and minority interests. etc.

and a series of political corruption scandals. The demonstrations involved more than a million people and included 2. In s addition. and the purpose of which was to sustain Roh’ grip on power. Dismiss Roh Tae-woo’The lives of 13 young protesters were lost. the threat to the livelihoods of ordinary people brought about by comprehensive import-liberalization. and it drove the Roh government into great crisis. whom burned themselves to death. set of highly repressive measures involving the mobilization of terror against those who were deemed a threat to public order. 11 of .361 protest rallies around the country. housing shortages. the party in power at the time. The May Struggle was an inevitable consequence of Roh Tae-woo’ so-called s ‘security rule’which was enforced as a . nation-wide. public reaction to various irregular activities of the government converged in the May Struggle. all beneath the slogan ‘Dissolve Minja Dang14. This constituted a success for 14 Roh Tae-woo’ Democratic Liberal Party.21 Party and the Democratic Labor Party. s 15 The minority ruling party recreated itself as a majority party by merging with two of the three opposition parties in a secret deal which isolated Kim Dae-jung’ party. the anticipated ‘June Struggle’ not occur. It ended on June 29 when the protest headquarters personnel retreated from their operations base. s . Gang Gyeong-dae was beaten to death by riot police. in downtown Seoul. Myong-dong Catholic Cathedral. in did spite of several deaths and the fact that the democratization movement had made plans for it. In all. The ‘May Struggle of 1991’ was a 60-day. an increase in staple commodity prices. an attempted constitutional revision towards a parliamentary cabinet system. it was the most serious popular protest to occur during the period of the Sixth Republic. activities such as 82 the merging of three political parties15. However. popular protest against the Roh Tae-woo government which began on April 26 when a demonstrating university student.

These other elements could not replace the main discourse ingredients of death and violence. The discourse was both a source both of upheaval and the cause of a reduction in the effectiveness of the protest. the popular. and the huge public sympathy they generated. Their efforts eventually exhausted the public as well as the activists themselves. In sum. struggle against the government. concentration upon them precluded positive progress being achieved by those who continued to fight against the authority. and was the first setback to Environmental organizations denouncing the Government for its anti-environmental policies. however. all-out.the ruling elite’ efforts s to minimize or reverse the ‘revolutionary’ trend towards democratization. 83 . could never be denied. During the short period of 60 days other voices were raised. stressing the basic rights to livelihood of the grassroots populace and attempting to generate discussion of an alternative system. while the importance of the deaths of protestors. It left a painful legacy and a sense of defeat in the collective memory of all those who had taken to the streets in May 1991. It was also a disaster from the democratization movement Korea Democracy Foundation perspective because the dominant discourse of the movement was one of death and violence. especially in relation to those who had perished in the struggles against military rule.

usually identified as ‘citizens’ movement’ ‘the people’ movement’emerged from what and s . coexisted in a single frame of solidarity. branch organizations are included. They differed particularly sharply on the agenda of economic liberalization.023 nongovernmental organizations (NGO’ or more than 20. According to the Civic Organizations Almanac 2000. the impact of globalization. . Korea had 4. and the 84 independent political formation of popular forces. A civil’ movement. where ‘centrifugal differentiation’ coexisted with the former ‘centripetal deepening’It also presented a new phenomenon of . two distinct camps. and being replaced by new conflicts and divisions that were more diverse. multi-layered. The rise of these two competing camps within the democratic cause constituted a new trend. opting for either liberalist normalization or a progressive transformation. but expanded its scope enormously in the early years of the 1990s. In the process of accelerating growth. that developed into diverse forms of civil’ movement in the space created by the events of 1987. until then. had hardly existed before 1987.000 if s). Both camps shared much in their prospectuses for the actual reform of state power. had been a unified entity. and multi-polar in nature. This led inevitably to a diversification of the democratization movement. the initial groups showed conservative characteristics. Korean society saw the previously singular dichotomy of democracy versus non-democracy gradually becoming blurred.(i) Growth of the citizens’ and class-based mass movements Since the beginning of the transition to democracy in 1987. or the movement politics of citizenship. The reason for this is to be located in the nature of the liberal social movement within the old pro-democracy movement. ‘hegemonic competition’ between social movements which had. Most notably. but differed in the direction of the final reform.

Later in the 1990s. The peoples’ movement representing the progressive section of the pro-democracy movement also advanced in terms of organizational strength and political influence. however. and from legislative appeal campaigns to ‘blacklist’ campaigns in general elections. The successful blacklist campaign in 2000. became a model of civic-initiated political reform and was later referred to favourably in Japan and other countries. taking advantage of the more democratic social conditions created since 1987. The civil’ movement often assumed the role of ‘watchdog’ over the institutional reform of politics.epitomized by the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice established in 1989. Many organizations moved their activities from what had been an illegal or semi-legal arena into the newly expanded legal space. when various NGOs formed a national coalition and produced a list of ‘unfit’ candidates to put pressure on political parties and convince the electorate of the validity of the election. This created a new phenomenon of ‘proxy representation’Civic power. as the phenomenon Korea Democracy Foundation of the political lag mentioned earlier persisted. civil society grew with the expansion of Organizing the National Trade Unions Conference. (1990) human rights NGOs and the formation of progressive civic groups such as the People’ s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (1994) and the Korea Federation of Environmental Movements (1993). The most conspicuous progress appeared in the 85 . monitoring ranged from election-monitoring to parliamentary scrutiny activities.

which predominated before 1987. As anticipated by the July-September Workers’ Struggle. which lasted more than a month and in which several million unionists participated. the National Association for Democracy and National Reunification (December 1991). have decreased. but also an expression of their resolve to fight the dehumanizing impact of neo-liberal globalization. and the National Alliance of People (March 2001) were formed to set and promote national agendas and raise issues concerning democratic reforms. These developments also led a change in the internal composition of the people’ movement itself. movements were also making significant organizational and political progress. 17 Korean Confederation of Trade Unions. Diminished also is 16 Korean Council of Trade Unions (KCTU). s organizational and mass-movement aspects have increased since 1987 whereas intelligentsia and individual aspects. were possible because of the magnitude of the popular base of democratic trade unionism and the strength of support of civic groups. Front organizations. In addition. as was noted by democratic and progressive forces around the world.labor movement. This historic industrial action. The general strikes of 1996~1997. the labor movement saw a huge growth in mass-based trade unionism and succeeded in establishing national trade union centres such as Jeon-no-hyeop16(January 1990) and Minjoo-Nochong17(November 1995). For example. was not only the workers defending their basic rights against the surprise passage through the National Assembly of a revision of labor laws in 1996. farmers’teachers’the urban poor and other . . It also happened in the context of a labor movement which was becoming more central in a wider popular movement in Korea. . such as the National Association for National and Democratic Movements (January 86 1989). restructured and expanded from the former KCTU by the addition of newly formed industrial unions.

In other words. as well as an increase of small. progressive political formation. local. In addition. such efforts were doomed to failure from 87 . It was in this context that worker and other popular movements advanced legal. progressive political formations Korea Democracy Foundation The main outcomes of the conservatives’ rearrangement of the system of ruling during the transitional period were lagging reforms and crippled management of state affairs in institutional politics. At the same time. The political exclusion of workers and the general population continued in a party system dominated by elite cartels and conservative monopolies. grassroots groups in new issue areas. (ii) Advance of independent. effectively sidelining or even excluding other forms of political representation. and medical professions and academics. independence movement and an anti-war movement. this period saw an increase in prodemocracy activism among members of the law. a nation-wide popular protest was recently launched as both an anti-US. media.the significance of the student movement and other intellectual movements in front or alliance organizations. However. a reduction of politics’ ‘ took place as the value that had previously been accorded to ‘street politics’ was reoriented toward electoral institutions. In particular. progressive political parties in an attempt to establish an independent. and later reinforced by the contentious issue of the dispatch of Korean troops to Iraq. It was initially triggered by an incident in which a US military vehicle crushed two young Korean girls to death. the experience of the 1987 presidential election and 1988 general election gave substantial legitimacy to the practice of public elections as a general principle of political competition. their places having been yielded to labor and other class-based mass movements.

the Democratic Labor Party succeeded in getting ten candidates elected to the National Assembly. opened a new era of ‘one million votes for progressive politics’ the 2002 in presidential election. in turn. mainly due to marginal participation and support from mass movements. Unified People’ Party s (1992). especially in the cases of the People’ s Party (1988) and the The Democratic Labor Party members commemorating the results of the 17th general election. in the general election in 2004. This constituted the first recognition of political citizenship of progressive forces. . Later. when participating groups came to a firm consensus on the urgent need for a political organization representing the working class and its activism. 88 Workers requesting the elimination of discrimination against. This common awareness led to the formation of the People’ Victory Party 21 (1997) and the s Democratic Labor Party (2000) which.the outset. A new impetus was created by the workers general strikes of 1996~97.

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