April 8, 2017


In South Korea, Democracy's Thumping Triumph : The arrest of South Korean President Park Geun-hye reflects a new unity among a majority of Koreans. (Diana Won, 4/07/17, Pacific Standard)

In important ways, Park's presidency, which began in 2012 when she secured a victory with a slim majority of just north of 50 percent of the vote, was a continuation of Koreans' long-held trust in a human rights-economic development trade-off. Initially, citizens wanted a leader who could guide them through the lingering global financial crisis of 2008, and they thought that Park, like her authoritarian father before her, could do exactly that. But over the course of her presidency, there grew a change of political heart among the citizenry, who, for the past several years now, have sought an out from Korea's decades-long rule by military dictatorship.

As a result, the recent candlelight protests mark a historic moment for Koreans, who not only succeeded in influencing National Assembly members to vote for impeachment on December 16th, but who also saw the Constitutional Court, in turn, unanimously uphold their decision on March 10th. For one of the first times in Korea's relatively young and wobbly democracy, protests had been wielded as a peaceful tool to shift public policy. As conservative and far-right populist movements gain traction throughout the U.S. and parts of Western Europe, many have questioned whether liberal democracy is dead. In South Korea, however, after 10 years of corrupt conservative rule, Moon Jae-in, the leader of the liberal Democratic party, won party nomination this week and is favored to win the upcoming election.

Posted by at April 8, 2017 8:45 AM