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 12: Dynamic Relationship between the Executive Administration and Politics: Intervention and Neutrality

Byong-Man Ahn


INTRODUCTION The dynamic relationship between the executive administration and politics centers around mutual intervention. Politicians more often apply pressure on the appointment of officials to the top posts of public bureaucracy. Political intervention is reciprocated by the executive officials involved in political processes, for example, elections. Mutual intervention causes pathological phenomena, which bring the importance of the executive’s neutrality into focus as a panacea for all ensuing problems. The political neutrality of public officials emerged as a moral sententiousness in the nineteenth century, which saw a dramatic transformation of Western Europe into an industrialized society. Afterwards, political neutrality was buttressed by an elaborate code of professional ethics that enshrined nonpartisan behavior and political subordination. The concept of depoliticized bureaucracy was further aided by a strong administrative-law system, this making an enormous contribution to the independence of public service and the professionalization of technical services. Korea shares in the legal manifestation of depoliticized public officials with the United States, the United Kingdom and other advanced countries. The reason for the assertive argument of political neutrality is found in a variety of forms depending on the particularities of the time. Under the absolute monarchical system of Western Europe, political neutrality emerged as a control mechanism against the expanding authority of kings or despotic rulers or as a mediator role in defending a variety of interest groups emerging in the process of industrialization. Going further, political neutrality was promoted as a guardian against bureaucracy reduced into an instrument of a particular political party...

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