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 14: Dynamic Relationship between Politics and Economy

Byong-Man Ahn


INTRODUCTION Competition is a structural characteristic of a pluralistic and diverse democratic society whose rule is based on the majority principle. Any political game that entails competition requires money and those rich in money bid fair to become the winner of the political game. The ideal of democratic politics rejects the combination of power with money because it leads to a political leverage that knows no road blocks to political goals, but the reality accepts it to the extent that money is a necessary evil in politics. It holds true that the excessive accumulation of wealth, as often noticed in open-market systems, brings the well-to-do into politics where their loud voices din out others in the formulation of policy measures. Collusion between big business and politicians tends to bias or distort the distribution of the national resources in favor of a few individuals or groups or a certain segment of the population. This trend is typified by Japan where the long-sustained political hegemony of the Liberal Democratic Party was maintained by its entrenched collusions with ‘big businesses’, with the resultant opening of the path for their heads to manipulate politics and enjoy an untrameled rise to prominence. In dealing with state affairs, political leadership is extremely wary of where the wind blows lest it goes against the grain or incurs the resentment of business interests. Premiers who didn’t heed this dictum often went to the pit of disgrace under overwhelming pressure to step down.1 Korea witnessed the advent of business...

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