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EASC 150 notes

EASC 150 notes - Politics Korea is a country with a good...

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Politics Korea is a country with a good political infrastructure o Institutions of democracy are there – a Constitution, Supreme Court, National Assembly, Cabinet, President, a system of local government Koreans ignore laws, because they are still governed by an ethos that is predominately Confucian. o In the classic Confucian tradition, the ruler was supposed to lead by moral example. o In the first half of the 20 th century the Japanese used modern law to invalidate Korean practice, destroy Korean culture, and cheat locals out of their land o Under Park Chung-hee the government directed modernization under laws that were written in a vague way that allows government bureaucrats great leeway in interpretation. o Therefore, Koreans have always seen law as something given from above Elected lawmakers in the National Assembly have done little to dispel this attitude o They occupied themselves with political struggle rather than debate over laws and issues. o Politics is not about issues or laws. It is about social relations and who has power. Therefore, it has always been logical for the opposition to simply to oppose and hinder government in whatever way it can. o For example, opposition leaders protested diplomatic relations with Japan and the construction of the Seoul-Pusan expressway in the 1960s because they were government projects. The failure to take rational positions on issues undermines popular sentiment towards politicians and has retarded the growth of rational, democratic thinking. But it is due to traditional attitudes. The Chosun period lasted for so long due to rulers’ emphasis on family as the prime object of loyalty prevented the masses from forming into bodies that could oppose them. Due to weak role of law o People rely on their families, alumni, and hometown friends to get on in life o Therefore, when a powerful political figure or the collapse of a network can close off access to opportunities for a wide number of people. o The four presidents who ruled from 1961 until 1998 came from the south-east Kyongsang provinces. Kim Dae-jung, who is from the south-west Cholla region, would win over 90% of the vote from his home province, but be lucky to get 10% from Kyongsang. Authority seemed to exist in order to steal people’s money and make them suffer o Mainly in part be to Japanese rule o Fathers told sons, “Don’t follow authority unless it’s a matter of personal safety. Obey, but internally defy.
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With the lack of exemplary leadership Koreans are fractious. o The names of parties change quickly so it is difficult to keep track of them. o Political parties represent neither a social class nor a particular philosophy o Parties are built around powerful factional leaders o It takes a strong and ruthless figure, like Kim Il-Sung and Park Chung-hee, to hold them together.
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