Elites and Political Power in South Korea

Elites and Political Power in South Korea

Byong-Man Ahn

In Elites and Political Power in South Korea, Byong-Man Ahn examines problems related to Korea’s political and ruling systems. He examines the Korean government in a global context and explores Korea’s cultural and political matrix. The author goes on to analyze political power, political parties and the elites in terms of their contribution to the ongoing cycle of dominance. An understanding of Korean government is developed, with particular attention paid to the unique pattern of its administrative system vis-à-vis those of other systems.

Chapter 10: Crucial Elections and the Cycle of Party Politics

Byong-Man Ahn

Subjects: asian studies, asian politics and policy, politics and public policy, asian politics


INTRODUCTION Since the liberation in 1945, numerous political parties have formed and disappeared from the political scene. They popped up like bamboo sprouts after rain before and during presidential and congressional elections and just as quickly disappeared afterwards. The first political party to emerge in a liberated Korea was the Communist Party and its desperate effort to take power amid the stormy post-liberation period caused various factions of rightist orientation to rally around an extreme rightist party, the Korea Democratic Party. These two parties represented the ideological polarization of the post-liberated period. The Korea Democratic Party played an important role in the inauguration of the First Republic by endorsing Rhi Syng Man, a legendary patriot of anticommunism. As Rhi’s political ambition rasped with peaceful transfer of power, the Korea Democratic Party turned into a vociferous critic of him. It was in the context of his struggle with the vociferous elements that Jayu (Democratic Liberal) Party was created. The Korea Democratic Party was the genesis of the forthcoming opposition parties, namely; Minju Kukmin (National Democratic) Party, Minju (Democratic) Party, and Sinmin (New Democratic) Party. Until the termination of the Yushin Regime in 1979, 160 political parties have paraded across the stage and of those, five have survived two congressional elections:1 they are Minju Kukmin (National Democratic) Party (seven years), Minju (Democratic) Party (six years), Jayu (Democratic Liberal) Party (nine years), Sinmin (New Democratic) Party (13 years), and Minju Konghwa (Democratic Republican) Party (18 years). Since the Yushin Reform, 25 political...

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