Correlates of the 2002 Presidential Election in South Korea: Regionalism, the Generation Gap, Anti-Americanism, and the

North Korea Factor


Eui Hang Shin Department of Sociology University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208 e-mail:

This paper was prepared while the author was a visiting professor at the Department of Sociology, College of Social Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea during the academic year of 2001-2002.

Special attention will be given to examining whether or not the effects of regionalism on the election results have changed over the past three presidential elections. Key words: civil society. compares the campaign platforms of major candidates. More specifically. generation gap. the Generation Gap. democratic consolidation. The effects of anti-American sentiments and the North Korea factor on the election outcomes will be analyzed. Anti-Americanism. anti-Americanism Word Count: 6. Finally.Correlates of the 2002 Presidential Election in South Korea: Regionalism.048 2 . I will discuss the implications of the results of the 2002 presidential election. social class cleavages. and the North Korea Factor Abstract The primary purpose of this study is to analyze the results of the 2002 presidential election. and investigates the factors that determined the election outcomes. regionalism. I will focus on comparisons of the patterns of voting behavior in the 2002 election with those of the two previous presidential elections of 1992 and 1997. In addition. I will investigate the role of “cyber/internet” politics and citizens’ organizations in the nomination and campaign processes. this study documents the candidate nomination processes of major political parties through primaries. I will also analyze differences in voting behavior by age and social class.

social. supported by the civil society. one of the “Three Kims”-. has several important dimensions in the evolution of South Korean politics. The presidential election that was held on December 19. it is a majority party in the National Assembly. the confrontation with the North has been one of the most important factors shaping domestic political processes in South Korea. The persistent struggle for democracy. intellectuals and political activists had joined student groups and post-Korean War generations of white collar workers in recognizing that the exploitation of national division by the authoritarian regimes was one of the primary causes of the nation’s political. the working class. who have dominated domestic politics.Kim Young Sam. This fact in itself signified a transition in the political arena. Civil society began to advocate that national security goals and the democratization of political.1 Furthermore. These dimensions are important conditions of political development in South Korea. although Lee Hoi Chang’s GNP is an opposition party. Finally. and intellectuals toward the American influence on various affairs of the Korean peninsula. and have led to the consolidation of democracy. Second. both Lee Hoi Chang of the Grand National Party (GNP) and Roh Moo Hyun of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) went through their respective party’s presidential primaries. The nationalistic political and ideological orientations of the citizens’ movement also included increasingly negative sentiments of students. This is unlike the past three presidential elections that involved two major candidates and a third party candidate that influenced election outcomes.Correlates of the 2002 Presidential Election in South Korea Introduction Since the division of the Korean peninsula. Third. and cultural problems. 2002. Kim Dae Jung. 3 . the 2002 presidential election could be regarded as an opportunity for Korean voters to assess the political development under the past two administrations. and to select a new leadership that would consolidate democracy. the authoritarian regimes’ long-standing approach of “economic development first and democratization later” was no longer acceptable. Although the people shared the belief that national security is of the utmost importance on the national agenda. By the 1970s. the first time ever in the history of South Korean presidential elections. economic. civil society insisted that democratic ideals should not be compromised. and Kim Jong Pil. by the 1980s. and social structures could be pursued simultaneously. The successive authoritarian regimes of Syngman Rhee. to become their party’s nominees. In this context. were not presidential candidates. the middle class in South Korea began to manifest more liberal attitudes toward the policies of inter-Korean relations than before. has been on the opposing end of the political axis. and Chun Doo Hwan had constantly promoted anti-Communist ideology and “national security” concerns to control any political movement questioning the legitimacy of the regimes. only two bona fide major candidates were in the race. Park Chung Hee. For the first time since 1971. Thus.

6 During MDP primaries. and political systems in general. such civic organizations as the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice.” which literally means “People Who Love Roh Moo Hyun. and public health in the 1990s have complemented the economic and political reforms initiated by the political society. political parties. published in 1999 by the Citizens’ Movement Communication Center. environmental. 2000 the Citizens’ Alliance for the 2000 General Elections (CAGE) was formally organized with more than 450 civic organizations as participating members. the role of one group truly stands out: “Nosamo.600 organizations. economic. and social structures over the last ten years under the two civilian presidents.2 The Directory of Korean NGOs. including the government. People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy. well-organized administrative structures. and solid reputations in terms of their programs and records of accomplishment. legislative and judiciary organizations. favorable environments for activities of non-governmental organizations. Other major plans were to develop a set of guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the National Assembly. The economic and political reforms that the Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung administrations have instituted are remarkable. Green Korea United. Nosamo played 4 . 2000. listed 7. Many of the leaders of civic organizations participated in the democratization movement of the 1980s. The growing interest of citizens in political and economic reforms and other societal issues has coincided with the Kim Dae Jung administration’s need for support of civil society in advocating the administration’s political and public policy agendas. In the past decade. gender. Thus they were already committed to the reform movement and had substantial experience in running non-governmental organizations. civil society has been transformed into an effective political force that impacts the political system through various channels of participation. increased distrust of the political system. educational. Its immediate plans included organizing a campaign against Article 87 of the Election Law that prohibited election-related campaign activities of civic organizations. bribery and other abuses of political power and positions. the 1997 financial crisis revealed the incompetence and inefficiency of the government bureaucracy as well as the lack of transparency of the political system.4 Former presidents and their family members have been at the center of a series of major scandals involving corruption.Civil Society South Korean society has undergone democratization processes in economic. and the Korean Foundation for Environmental Movement had established national networks. and the availability of experienced civic organizational leadership have provided ideal conditions for the participation of civic organizations in the political process. In fact. and to publish a list of politicians who they deemed unfit to be candidates for the 16th National Assembly election on April 13.” It is a political “fan club” that supported Roh Moo Hyun as a politician and as a candidate in the MDP primaries.5 On the whole. Furthermore. The rapid multiplication of citizens’ organizations addressing such diverse and important issues as civil rights. On January 12. political.3 Another factor that has provided a favorable environment for the development of citizens’ organizations has been a growing distrust of politicians.

000 in 2001. 22. and born in 1960s. entered college in 1980s. In addition. Nosamo became a benchmark for a full scale “e-politics” of information society in South Korea.8 In this context. while Roh Moo Hyun was in dire need of grass-roots voter organizations that would share and support his political agenda.000 in 1995 to 9. both Nosamo and CAGE played similar roles in bridging the gap between political and civil society in the election process. those political support groups were not as effective as Nosamo. The Internet user population has increased at a remarkable pace over the past several years in South Korea. These include Lee Hoi Chang’s “Changsarang” and Lee In Jeh’s “Insarang.go. The idea about forming a citizens’ support group for Roh Moo Hyun started immediately following his loss in the National Assembly election of April 13. home pages. and presidential elections at its website (www. largely because the political and personal images of both Lee Hoi Chang and Lee In Jeh were not consistent with those that inspired the “386 generation” voters.” those who are in their 30s. MDP. and the use of the Internet for their networking. It should be noted that other major candidates have had their own support groups.230. and 40s. and thus follow up actions can be organized timely and effectively. On the other hand. Nosamo was more truly a grass roots citizens’ organization than CAGE. The “386 The data used in this study are drawn from the website. with regard to the composition of participants.a critical role in Roh Moo Hyun’s success in the MDP primaries. Furthermore. and experts in different fields. 270. In particular. Data and Methods of Analysis The National Election Commission (NEC) provides historical information on the results of local. The organization of Nosamo as a grass roots/citizens’ organization may have been influenced by the rapid growth of citizens’ organizations in Korea. I use data complied by 5 . CAGE might have had some impact on the initial planning of Nosamo. and they were well-known veteran civic organization leaders. CAGE attempted to influence the nomination of candidates by major political parties from outside of the political arena." Nevertheless. The representatives of nearly nine hundred civic organizations participated in CAGE. In a way. The number of Internet users increased from 366. Their activities would be categorized as participatory politics or politics of engagement. It follows that information can be disseminated among the members quickly and economically. and 26. 430. Nosamo has been a political fan club whose members communicate with each other almost exclusively via the Internet.000 in 1999. Nosamo was a joint product of the emerging political philosophy among younger generations and their digital electronic culture. Roh Moo Hyun and Nosamo represented an ideal match. Hence. Nosamo and CAGE are significantly different in many accounts.000 in December 2002. 2000. Nosamo was more directly involved in the politics of a particular party. as well as in his winning the presidential election. parliamentary. However. who use the Internet regularly. In contrast. From its inception. was in search of a new political leader who would represent their political perspectives. Nosamo membership included substantially more diverse groups in terms of educational and occupational characteristics. professionals.7 It has attracted members in their 20s.

Lee Hoi Chang enjoyed a nearly 10 percentage point lead in popularity as compared with Roh Moo Hyun. 2002.hani. Roh Moo Hyun’s popularity declined since then. In this paper. I will compute the indices of dissimilarity in the regional distribution of votes received by major candidates for the past three presidential elections: 1992.four major daily newspapers: Chosun (www. One that is most frequently used has been “North wind. The regional patterns of vote shares from the 2002 election will be compared with those of the 1997 and 1992 presidential elections. I will attempt to determine whether the extent of regionalism in voting behavior has changed since From comparisons of these indices. I use the website of the Gallup Korea (www. The information on voting behavior by socioeconomic status of voters is not Roh Moo Hyun’s win is a truly remarkable turnaround in that poll after poll reported that Lee Hoi Chang would be a shoo-in as late as November 22.5 percent of the support of voters. less than one month before the election.chosun. Vote Shares by Candidates Roh Moo Hyun received 48. With regard to age differences in voting behavior. or individual over the years. To determine the age variations in voting behavior.” (The Korean media have used the word “wind” to refer to an emerging influence of a certain factor. On the other hand. 1997. fared better than predicted with 3. in the polls conducted 6 . and I especially focus on the data on each political party’s presidential primaries from the newspapers. phenomenon. the Democratic Labor Party candidate. With regard to the results of tracking polls on candidates. I will compare each candidate’s vote share for a specific age group of voters. The results of the polls show interesting patterns of the rise and fall of the popularity of Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Hoi Chang. Thus. Roh Moo Hyun’s popularity reached over 60 percent in the height of MDP primaries in April along with websites of the four major newspapers. Joongang (www.6 percent and Kwon Young Ghil. Donga (www.joins.donga. it would be possible to identify voting behavior differentials by social I will also compare the age differences in the past three presidential elections. and the media dubbed the phenomenon as “Roh wind. while Lee Hoi Chang had only 32.” which means the possible impact of the actions of the North Korean regime). I will investigate the extent of regionalism in voting behavior.9 percent. I will also analyze the data on candidates’ vote shares by region. and Hankyoreh (www. Trial-Heats of the 15th Presidential Election by Gallup Korea and A Collection of the 14th Presidential Election by Chosun Ilbo also provided essential information for a comparative historical analysis of the presidential election results. The MDP primaries had brought Roh Moo Hyun’s popularity increase to an extremely high level. I will examine the vote share of each candidate for a specific age group. I will investigate the candidate’s vote shares in each district of the Seoul metropolitan area and relate these patterns to variations in housing values among the residential districts. In this due largely to widely publicized reports of political scandals involving President Kim Dae Jung’s sons and his political percent of the total votes while Lee Hoi Chang’s vote share was 46.

in polls over Roh Moo Hyun and Chung Mong Joon. 2002 showed that if they were unified. and he was unable to recover from it. It is not clear to what extent the last minute announcement of Chung Mong Joon’s withdrawal of his support of Roh Moo Hyun and the breaking of the alliance had impacted the final vote shares of the candidates. In the 7th presidential election of 1971. produced significantly skewed election results. Regionalism Regionalism in the political context had emerged in the 1970s. polls taken around November 22-23. animosity between Honam and Youngnam had intensified over the past three decades. there was some evidence in terms of regional differences of support bases between the two candidates. 2002 presidential election. However. As predicted. when the discussion between the Roh Moo Hyun and Chung Mong Joon camps for a possible alliance and fielding a unified candidate in the presidential race reached a final stage of negotiation. regionalism has been the most persistent and powerful determinant of the political process. in turn. with the manipulation and exploitation of regional sentiments by the political parties. Even before Roh Moo Hyun was named as the coalition candidate on the basis of the results from polls conducted on November 25. and of his living in a luxury condominium with a reported value of nearly one million dollars. The effects of regionalism in voting behavior had been clearly observed in all levels of direct elections since the 1970s. Since then. although the MDP camp had brought charges of draft dodging by both of his sons on the ground of being underweight. The alliance between Roh Moo Hyun’s MDP and Chung Mong Joon’s National Unity 21 was the last blow to Lee Hoi Chang. The division began with each of the two regions supporting their own favorite son in the 1971 presidential election. 2002. The key element of regionalism in South Korean politics has been the split between Honam and Youngnam regions. including the election outcomes in South Korea over the past three decades. In a way. Lee Hoi Chang’s hitherto steady lead. the results 7 . Honam region for Kim Dae Jung and Youngnam for Park Chung Hee. nearly four-month long from mid-June to early November 2002. the Honam (southwest region) for Kim Dae Jung and Youngnam (southeast region) for Park Chung Hee. Park Chung Hee manipulated the regional sentiments and exploited the regional conflicts for his own political benefits.9 In particular. An important consequence of the manipulated regional animosity was an emergence of regional support based parties.between June and early November 2002. in which Kim Dae Jung ran against Park Chung Hee. These regional divisions in the support bases of parties. Lee Hoi Chang did not suffer any serious setbacks. any one of the two candidates would edge Lee Hoi Chang in the December 19. One party may receive an overwhelming support from some regions while the same party would do extremely poorly in other regions. He was accused of living in an expensive residence that was perhaps illegally donated by one of his political allies. In fact. head of the Korean Soccer Association who was instrumental for the success of the 2002 Wolrd Cup and a son of Chung Ju Young--the late founder of the Hyundai Group. polls showed that Roh Moo Hyun’s popularity surpassed Lee Hoi Chang's. started to disappear by the third week of November 2002.

although Roh Moo Hyun was outpolled by Lee Hoi Chang by 607.8 percent in Taegu.6 percent in Kwangju to 77.464 votes. the analysis becomes fuzzy when a candidate satisfies one criterion but not the other. since Lee Hoi Chang was a candidate in both the 1997 and 2002 presidential elections.970. In terms of absolute number of votes.6 to 25. an attempt could still be made to see whether the regional distribution of votes he received in 2002 was significantly different from that in 1997. The fact that Roh Moo Hyun’s vote share in Honam region in 2002 was not substantially different from that of Kim Dae Jung in 1997 may support an assertion that MDP’s stronghold is Honam. as in the case of the 2002 race. For example. It is interesting to note the differences between Roh Moo Hyun in 2002 and Kim Dae Jung in 1997 in the same region. while Lee Hoi Chang’s vote share in Honam region was less than 5. the presidential palace. An important question on regionalism in voting behavior would be whether the extent of concentration of the support base of major parties has changed over time. and occupation. Roh Moo Hyun’s superior performance in Youngnam in comparison to Kim Dae Jung’s vote share in 1997 may be related to the fact that Roh Moo Hyun is identified as a Youngnam origin individual. and Roh Moo Hyun was perceived by Honam voters as Kim Dae Jung’s heir to continue to occupy the Blue House. More specifically. Since regionalism is essentially linked to supporting a candidate on the basis of two criteria. Thus.446 votes in their respective strongholds. Roh Moo Hyun’s winning combination was winning the Honam region by a landslide nearly to the same extent as Kim Dae Jung did in 1997.of the last three presidential elections as well as the National Assembly elections have shown that regionalism is one of the most important determinants of election outcomes. Rampant regional bias has been regarded as an undeniable indicator of how much the consolidation of democracy has to be elevated.5 percent. The vote shares of both major candidates varied widely from one region to another. as mentioned earlier. a stronghold of Lee Hoi Chang. he overcame these deficits by the vote margins he won in the other regions. while Roh Moo Hyun defeated Lee Hoi Chang in Honam region by 2. one’s region of birth was a more powerful predictor of voting behavior than one’s age. it is possible that the race between Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Hoi Chang was perceived by some Youngnam voters as a race between a GNP nominee who was not of Youngnam origin and an MDP nominee who was of Youngnam origin.7 percent of votes in Taegu. and he also penetrated into Youngnam region. educational attainment. Lee Hoi Chang’s vote shares varied from 3. Thus.2 percent of vote share. Roh Moo Hyun received more than 92 percent of votes in Honam. Roh Moo Hyun received only 18. Lee Hoi Chang won the Youngnam region by a margin of 2. However. 8 . On the other hand. gender. On the other hand. Lee Hoi Chang defeated Roh Moo Hyun in Youngnam region by 68. at the individual voter level. On the other hand. and fared substantially better than Kim Dae Jung did in the region in 1997.363. while he had a landslide win in Kwangju with 95. candidate’s party and candidate’s region of origin.910 votes.0 percent.

while older voters align themselves with conservative candidates and parties. the index gives the proportion of Lee Hoi Chang supporters who would have to change region of residence to achieve an even regional distribution of those who voted for Roh Moo Hyun. The Generation Gap and Voting Behavior In past presidential and parliamentary elections. In particular. In the 2002 presidential election. even after accounting for the effects of having a third candidate in the race. younger voters tend to support progressive candidates and parties.6 for Lee Hoi Chang and 43. it appears that the disparity between candidates in the regional distribution of votes received declined over the past three presidential elections.81 percent. Therefore. Unlike the older generations whose voting 9 . and 2002 presidential elections. The index measures the extent of inequality between two candidates in terms of the distribution of votes they received by city/province. The extent of support Roh Moo Hyun received from voters in the 20-39 age group was substantially greater than that any other candidate had ever received. and the index between Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Hoi Chang in 2002 was 25. the index of dissimilarity between Kim Young Sam and Kim Dae Jung in 1992 was 41. a stronghold of GNP. while the index between Kim Dae Jung and Lee Hoi Chang in 1997 was 34.The indices of dissimilarity were computed between a pair of candidates in the geographic distribution of votes received in the 1992. while Lee Hoi Chang received about 63. 46.0 percent of votes of the 50 years old and older group.7 percentage point margin. On the whole. there is evidence that the extent of regionalism in voting behavior has declined over the past three presidential elections. the extent of inequality between two main rivals in terms of regional support bases also decreased. 1997. The extent of support Roh Moo Hyun received from voters in the 20-39 age group is consistently greater than that of Kim Dae Jung in his presidential races of 1987. the proportion of the voters in the 20-39 age group who supported Roh Moo Hyun was significantly greater than that of the older voters in the same region. 1992.9 for Roh Moo Hyun. and 1997. Furthermore. This means that the regional distribution of total voting population and that of voters who supported a specific candidate became more congruent than before. Lee Hoi Chang edged Roh Moo Hyun in the votes of the 4049 age group by a 2.4 percent. Roh Moo Hyun received overwhelming support (nearly 61 percent) from voters in their 20s and 30s.10 For instance. For example. the indices of dissimilarity between the distribution of total votes and votes each candidate received declined consistently.6 percent. even after accounting for the third candidate factor in the race. significant and persistent differences in voting behavior by age have been observed. An indication that regionalism was less apparent in the voting behavior of younger voters is that even in Pusan/Youngnam region. As frequently observed in other countries. No other candidate has ever received such an overwhelming support from younger voters in the recent history of the presidential elections in South Korea. The data shows that the winning margins in the votes of the 20-39 age group were large enough for Roh Moo Hyun to overcome the losing margins in the votes of the 40 and older age group.

“the liquidation of old politics” and “the generational replacement in politics. and younger political leader as president. Social Class Previous studies of South Korean elections have reported that the upper and uppermiddle classes tend to vote for conservative parties and candidates. effective and large-scale reaction would not have been possible without the information networks of the Internet and the electronic culture and competence of the young age group.” Younger voters wanted a fresh. Lee Hoi Chang also had to deal with the nagging allegations of draft dodging by his two sons. These exchanges have enhanced the level of awareness of the young voters about the issues. the younger generation appears to be less impacted by traditional regional sentiments. In light of the mandatory military service regulation. The bulletin boards of major newspapers and the electronic newspapers’ web sites have provided young voters with opportunities to exchange their views on the various campaign issues. Chung Mong Joon’s last minute withdrawal of his endorsement of Roh Moo Hyun on December 18. Young voters regarded him as a person who had enjoyed a successful career and who represented the affluent and established class. personal and ethical integrity are regarded as two of the most critical qualifications of any individual candidate for an elected office.” might have been more appealing to younger voters than Lee Hoi Chang’s “the indictment and trial of the corrupt regime. First. Third. On the whole. In particular. Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Hoi Chang have diametrically opposite personal and family backgrounds. Second. Roh Moo Hyun was perceived as a down-to-earth person who would understand the struggles that lower-middle and working class families endure. Roh Moo Hyun’s baseline campaign messages. young voters respected Roh Moo Hyun for his participation in the struggle for democratization as a civil rights lawyer who defended the young students against the military regimes.behavior is largely determined by region of birth. On the other hand. while the lowermiddle and working classes are more likely to vote for progressive parties and candidates.11 What are the factors that have contributed to the overwhelming support of Roh Moo Hyun among relatively young voters? What are the social forces that have motivated young voters to become more involved in election campaigns? These are important questions to be dealt with in order to identify the nature of the emerging generation gap in the ideological and political orientations of South Korean voters. these conditions seemed to be conducive to the overwhelming support of Roh Moo Hyun by young voters in the 2002 presidential election. especially young voters who would be more likely to relate to this issue. the communication networks through the Internet were effective in mobilizing young voters in the presidential election. the draftdodging allegation gave a very negative image to voters. in South Korean politics. 2002 caused a sense of urgency among young voters and motivated them to encourage and remind their peers to vote for Roh Moo Hyun the next day. More importantly. new. This quick. 10 . Lee Hoi Chang did not have a record of participation in the democratization movement primarily due to his career path. and have solidified the young age group into a voting bloc.

796): the higher the district’s median housing value was. while the lowermiddle and working classes would have supported Roh Moo Hyun. Although the evidence presented here is indirect and quite limited. the two districts. where Lee Hoi Chang received substantially more votes than Roh Moo Hyun. This concentration has also intensified the inequality between Seoul/capital city region and the rest of the country. he would relocate the administrative capital from Seoul to Chungchong province. The data on the vote shares by candidate and by district of Seoul in the 2002 presidential election show that Roh Moo Hyun carried all but two districts. the upper and upper-middle classes may have voted for Lee Hoi Chang. the welfare of Seoul residents would be compromised. turned out to be the districts with the highest median value of housing in Seoul. and reduce inequality between Seoul and the other regions. it would be reasonable to hypothesize that in the 2002 presidential election. and it became one of the hottest campaign issues. One of the concerns of Seoul residents was that housing values would sharply decline if the administrative capital were relocated. It would be reasonable to argue that the stake was higher for those who owned highly priced residences than for those who lived in modest quarters. Roh Moo Hyun argued that the relocation of the administrative capital would make government administrative operations more efficient. Thus. Seocho and Kangnam. Anti-Americanism is not a new 11 . The rationale behind this proposal was that one of the primary reasons for the increasing concentration of the population. A major campaign promise Roh Moo Hyun made was that if he were elected president. as well as economic. the zero-order correlation coefficient between Roh Moo Hyun’s vote share and the median housing value was strong and negative (r = -.Thus. He pointed out that the relocation would be too costly and would unfairly burden taxpayers. Lee Hoi Chang opposed the relocation proposal. and income status are not available. He also argued that the move of the government organizations would negatively impact the economic and financial conditions of the capital city region. accelerate regional development through proper allocation of resources to various regions. it is still possible to draw some inferences on the interrelations between social class and voting behavior in the 2002 presidential election. Interestingly. while voters in the Seoul metropolitan area seemed to oppose it. cultural. it is possible that the differences in the candidate’s stance on the relocation issue may be connected to the observed differences in voting behavior among the districts of Seoul. In fact. The data suggest that support for Roh Moo Hyun was stronger in relatively poor districts than in districts with concentration of relatively well-off residents. The data on voting behavior by educational attainment. educational. the lower was Roh Moo Hyun’s vote share. Chungchong voters welcomed Roh Moo Hyun’s proposal. and for those who did not own their own homes. Anti-American Sentiment and the North Korea Factor The rise of anti-American sentiments in South Korea has been closely associated with the changing nature of South-North relations in recent years. Thus. and social activities and organizations in Seoul was the location of the central government ministries and agencies in Seoul. occupation.

relations. it would be reasonable to hypothesize that voters were influenced by each presidential candidate’s stance on the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA). relations. and Korean-U. and the concomitant changes in South Korean perspectives on Korean-U. and the subsequent acquittal of the drivers by the U.S.S. When these incidents were combined with long-term simmering structural changes. relations. the continued street demonstrations forced both Roh Moo Hyun and Lee Hoi Chang to state their positions on the issue. USFK.S.S. Most of these incidents are linked to the presence of the United States Forces Korea (USFK). he would dilute support from his primary constituents if he was too aggressive in siding with anti-American demonstrators. the anti-American demonstrations must have helped Roh Moo Hyun in mobilizing young voters and solidifying their support for his election as president. military vehicle in June 2002. On the other hand. South Korea has become one of the major players in the world trade market. the anti-American 12 . and the political system has undergone democratization processes at an impressive pace. In view of South Korean sentiments toward USFK and Korean-U. and South Korean sovereignty and national interests being fully honored were consistent with what Roh Moo Hyun had advocated all along. they mobilized the support of young voters for Roh Moo Hyun. anti-American demonstrations were very difficult to handle. relations. relations as equals. including SOFA. there seemed to be no significant difference regarding their stance on the SOFA issue. including a fatal traffic accident in which two middle school girls were killed by a U. as well as the immediate factors that have been simmering in recent years. with the relentless argument that Korean-U. President Kim Dae Jung’s “sunshine policy. they triggered anti-American sentiments to surface in various forms. Since his primary support base was the conservative. military court in November 2002.S. Bush to make a formal apology to the Korean people. it may be useful to examine both the long-term historical and structural changes. Regarding sources of anti-Americanism.S. They also indicated that there is an urgent need to amend unfair and unjust portions of SOFA.” On one hand. especially those of the post-Korean War generation. Their slogans demanding new Korean-U. policies regarding North Korea.S. Thus. Interestingly. It is also important to note that recent incidents might have directly influenced the sentiments of South Koreans toward the United States. totally ignoring the anti-American sentiments was not an option. have to be re-established and amended so that new relations reflect both parties as equals.12 At the structural level.S. the vigils have “killed two birds with one stone. On the other hand. In this context.phenomenon in the formal 50-year history of Korean-U.” and persistent liberal engagement and economic assistance programs had already changed the perceptions of many South Koreans regarding North Korea. pro-American segment of the population.S relations. from Lee Hoi Chang’s standpoint. The candlelight vigils attracted the attention of young voters. However. including the street demonstrations and negative public opinions on USFK and U. They both urged President George W. Thus. in view of public opinions and media orientations.

widening generation gap in political orientation. Accommodating the diverse ideological and political orientations of voters may be closely linked to how his administration approaches the current issues of interKorean as well as Korean-U. would have to be developed and effectively presented to the people. Convincing evidence for this argument includes the institution of party primaries. he won the election with progressive campaign promises. and its leadership. Roh Moo Hyun would have to articulate his policies on Korean-U. Furthermore. Also. MDP would have to be reorganized into a viable ruling party. Thus. On the other hand. thus they reduced the possible impact of the North Korean nuclear weapons development. providing voters with choices between conservative and progressive candidates. he is relatively free from any coalition with other parties. and an emergence of participatory democracy through grass-roots organizations’ campaign activities for a specific candidate. including USFK and SOFA. The persistence of regionalism. Also. relations. and he is not under any serious political obligation to his own party. opportunistic party switching of politicians shortly before the election. he would have to embrace the voters who did not support him. In contrast to his two predecessors. one of Roh Moo Hyun’s major campaign promises. and he would be able to generate public support for his reform-oriented leadership. On the other hand. abuses of Internet for instigating public outcries and spreading inaccurate information. President Roh Moo Hyun has some factors that may work in favor of his administration. the election also revealed the factors that have been obstacles to the transformation of the South Korean political system into a mature democracy. In terms of domestic political issues. relations. televised debates between major candidates on policy issues. a working relationship with GNP will have to be established. and reluctance in accepting the will of electorates by party politicians seemed to hinder the South Korean political system in reaching the next level of consolidated democracy. MDP.demonstrations diverted the attention of voters away from North Korean issues to antiAmericanism. he would be able to pursue his own political agenda without any interference from the party structures for some time. 13 .S. In addition.S. transforming a potentially hurricane level “North Wind” into a mild spring breeze. Given the split of voters as reflected in the election outcomes. Discussion The 2002 presidential election was an important point in the South Korean political history for its progress toward the consolidation of democracy. fairly clean campaign processes with no significant negative campaigns. his administration faces a multitude of challenging current issues. including relocation of the administrative capital and chaebol reforms that are popular with the general population. plans for the relocation of the administrative capital from Seoul to Chungchong Province.

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