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Top-Down Democracy in South Korea

While popular movements in South Korea rightly grab the headlines for forcing political change and holding leaders to account, those movements are only part of the story of the construction and practice of democracy. In Top-Down Democracy in South Korea, Erik Mobrand documents another part – the elite-led design and management of electoral and party institutions. Even as the country left authoritarian rule behind, elites have responded to freer and fairer elections by entrenching rather than abandoning exclusionary practices and forms of party organization.

Exploring South Korea's political development from 1945 through the end of dictatorship in the 1980s and into the twenty-first century, Mobrand challenges the view that the origins of the postauthoritarian political system lie in a series of popular movements that eventually undid repression. He argues that we should think about democratization not as the establishment of an entirely new system, but as the subtle blending of new formal rules with earlier authority structures, political institutions, and legitimizing norms.

About the Authors

Erik Mobrand is associate professor in the Graduate School of International Studies at Seoul National University.

Reviews

"Mobrand's study not only provides an explanation of why Korea's to-down democracy is the way it is, but also generates questions for future research on authoritarian legacies, democratic consolidation, and varieties of democracy."—Pacific Affairs

Endorsements

"Top-Down Democracy in South Korea debunks the notion of a bottom-up civil-society activation of transition and an overthrow of old systems of governance."—Katharine H. S. Moon, professor of political science, Wellesley College

"Mobrand argues that South Korea's political parties effectively engage in 'electoral management' rather than incorporating popular demands and opening the parties as mass vehicles of representation. He provides a compelling analysis of political parties and democracy in the Republic of Korea and goes further in showing why the South Korean case is so important to our understanding of democracy."—Robert Pekkanen, coauthor of The Rise and Fall of Japan's LDP: Political Party Organizations as Historical Institutions

9780295745473 : top-down-democracy-in-south-korea-mobrand-sorensen
Paperback / softback
216 Pages
$35.00 USD
9780295745497 : top-down-democracy-in-south-korea-mobrand-sorensen
Hardback
216 Pages
$99.00 USD

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