Consolidating Democracy in South Korea

"Well worth reading…. A high-quality comparative political science analysis of democratic consolidation in South Korea."—Mette Skak, Political Studies

Since its inception in 1987, Korean democracy has been an arena of continual drama and baffling contradictions: periodic waves of societal mobilization and disenchantment; initial continuity in political leadership, followed by the successive election to the presidency of two former opposition leaders and the arrest of two former heads of state; a constant stream of party renamings and realignments; an extended period of economic success and then a breathtaking economic collapse; and a persistent quest for political reform in a political culture focused not on institutions, but on power and personal relationships.

This book sheds light on the dilemmas, tensions, and contradictions arising from democratic consolidation in Korea. The authors explore the turbulent features of Korean democracy in its first decade, assess the progress that has been made, and identify the key social, cultural, and political obstacles to effective and stable democratic governance.


  • Introduction: Consolidating Democracy in South Korea—the Editors.
  • South Korean Democratic Consolidation in Comparative Perspective—H.B. Im.
  • Party Politics in South Korea’s Democracy: The Crisis of Success—B.K. Kim.
  • Civil Society and Democratic Consolidation in South Korea: Great Achievements and Remaining Problems—K.R. Seong.
  • Labor Against Itself: Structural Dilemmas of State Monism—B.K. Kim and H.C. Lim.
  • Democracy and Economic Performance in South Korea—C.I. Moon and S.M. Kim.
  • Electoral Politics and Economic Crisis, 1997-1998—B.K. Kim.
  • Continuing Democratic Reform: The Unfinished Symphony—D.I. Steinberg.


Larry Diamond is senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution and codirector of the National Endowment for Democracy’s International Forum for Democratic Studies. His most recent book is Developing Democracy: Toward Consolidation.

Byung-Kook Kim is associate professor of political science at Korea University and a former member of the Presidential Commission on Policy Planning. His major publications include Dynamics of National Division and Revolution: The Political Economy of Korea and Mexico, State, Region, and the International System, and Korean Politics.