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 5: The Post-Liberation Bureaucracy

Byong-Man Ahn


TRADITIONAL POLITICAL CULTURE AND MODERNIZATION The imposition of Japanese bureaucracy on Korea did much to deform the latter’s face, but it failed to alter the frame of its value underpinned by vertical relatedness and collective trend. As Korea was caught in the emotions of liberation, the ensuing political melees and the Korean War, it encountered new threats to its residual value. Rarely has a nation gone through such a revolutionary change as Korea has undergone during the post-liberation period. A close look at the pattern of modernization characteristic of Korea and external dramas that continued to affect Korean politics, show a range of anomalies. Without borrowing scholarly definition, modernization is viewed as a process through which a traditional society develops into a modern society: the process of modernization necessarily involves changes in all aspects of life, starting with industrial development and urban growth. Their impact on the life pattern of the people is embodied in value change, political development toward pluralism and broader participation in political decision.1 Concomitant to this process is social mobilization, accompanied by the crumbling of traditional values. Encounters with new values attune the people to new patterns of socialization and behaviors.2 What Koreans experienced after the liberation was not exceptional. The new value system acquired the tone of US norms that made their way deep into every aspect of life.3 Social change was initiated by rapid population growth. Population growth over the 500 years of the Chosun dynasty showed a slow upward curve. The total population,...

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