Finally, even major internal and external shocks have contributed to the consolidation of the democratic system each time they were successfully overcome. Originally published in: Journal of Democracy, Vol. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity.
Possibly the most significant factor in the success or failure of a state’s democratic transition and subsequent consolidation is establishing a firm and democratic control over the armed forces.
Without depoliticizing the once-politically dominant military and making top military officials politically neutral and subordinated under democratically elected leaders, the post-democratization political process of a nation is destined to be highly unstable and most likely will derail from the route to democratic consolidation.
Since its inception in 1987, Korean democracy has been an arean 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 renaming and realignments; an extended period of economic success and then a breathtaking economic collapse; and a persistent quest for political reform within 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.
RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.