Since the democratic transition in 1987, South Korea has been one of the most vibrant
democracies in East Asia. If the first phase of democratic consolidation was driven by vocal
civil movement organizations, the second stage has been driven by fluid citizen networks
that defy any organizational label. South Korea’s two major popular protests in 2002 and
2008 were mobilized through internet communication. In recent years, online political
participation has translated into offline election vote alliances.
With an advanced digital infrastructure, Koreans are rapidly moving from Web 1.0 to Social Network communication.
Multi-hub networks such as Facebook or Twitter have emerged as a politically-influential
social space. In using these channels, public demands have placed pressure on both the
government and the national assembly to be more responsive and accountable. The
emerging political culture in South Korea is now focused on emphasizing better
communication and empathy between citizens and elected representatives. This talk
examines the emerging network democracy in South Korea and assesses both its positive
and negative impact upon South Korean democracy.
Sook Jong Lee is researcher at the Sungkyunkwan University/ East Asia Institute in Seoul and currently visiting
scholar at the GIGA Institute of Asian Studies.