Elites and Political Power in South Korea
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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.
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Chapter 2: The Political Culture of Korea

Byong-Man Ahn


CONCEPTUALIZATION OF POLITICAL CULTURE The concept of culture varies widely. The pattern of bureaucracy defies understanding in a clearly defined frame, because it depends on the point of view one uses in looking at the issue. It is necessary, therefore, to establish a conceptual framework, starting with the definition of culture. Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn attempted to define culture by observing l64 different cultures.1 Elaborating on their works is out of place in this section. For the convenience of understanding, this chapter defines culture as a patterned value system. In specific terms, culture is a collective entity composed of common ideas, norms and symbols.2 In other words, culture is a patterned value system, which breaks down into ideas, norms and symbols that have a binding effect on all constituents of society. Putting it in another way, political culture is seen as the political aspect of culture. In other words, ‘political’ is added as a prefix to ‘culture’, meaning an attempt to view it in the context of general culture. This view makes it clear that political culture is a patterned value system, composed of political ideology, ruling norms and political symbols, which influence the formation of political systems and individual behaviors.3 In conceptualizing the political culture of Korea, the focus is on political ideology and ruling norms. Knowing that political ideology has a profound impact on the political system and the political behavior of individuals, it is appropriate to elucidate its characteristics embedded in the consciousness of Koreans. Ruling...

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