How Democratic Was The Two Koreas In The 1980s?

Submitted By yumi93
Words: 1393
Pages: 6

How democratic was the two Koreas in the 1980s?



South Korea:
The Kwangju Incident
Fifth Republic
The rule of Roh Tae-woo

North Korea:
The Economic Hardships
“Terrorist Country”
Lack of resources
Next decade

In my essay I’ll be talking about the democratisation movement in South Korea, the efforts of modernisation in North Korea, economic growth in both Koreas in 1980s, and then compare which country was ruled better. But firstly an explanation of the definition of democratisation; democratisation is an introductory of democratic system or democratic principles, in other words, make politics accessible to everyone and let all citizens vote for the new leader. Most countries nowadays are democratic apart from some countries in Central Asia and Africa.

South Korea

The Kwangju Incident
Chun Doo-hwan wanted to conduct a revolution and seize the whole power in South Korea, starting with the military power. With help of Roh Tae-woo, he “forced out of power the army’s chief of staff.” In April 1980, the student protest started against Chun’s rule, the Yushin system, and martial law. All this was a result of Chun’s seizure of Korean Central Intelligence Agency. He declared the martial law across the state, shut down all universities and colleges and prohibited all political activities. In May between 19th and 22nd, about 200,000 civilians launched a protest against Chun’s rule, by occupying police stations and the government offices. Then later, on May 27th, he brutally suppressed the revolt. The unofficial count of deaths is said to be around 2300. After the Kwangju the Fifth Republic and a new constitution were formed.

Fifth Republic
After Chun’s indirect election for a president on a seven-year term, the martial law was withdrawn, and the presidential power replaced the military power in order to stabilise the country. The government promised economic growth and the raise of justice in the new era.
South Korea opened up to overseas funds, and as the Korean exports increased, the GDP improved. However, the fast-growing rate of economics widened the difference between the rich and the poor. These disagreements strengthened the student movement, and hence the rule of the country became more intense as well. During that time, the relations with Japan were braced, as well as the ties with China and Soviet Union had improved. Even the reunification with North Korea was attempted, and as a result families from both states “made cross visits to Seoul and Pyongyang.”
Soon after, the constitution was changed, allowing the civilians to vote directly for the new president. Chun had handpicked Roh as the next leader. However, people opposed and Roh voted for democratic elections, which made him the first candidate for the president. In 1987, President Chun was withdrawn from the office, due to the disturbance of a student’s death. Roh Tae-woo succeeded Chun in the president elections, on a five-year term, contributing a higher level of political liberalisation.

The rule of Roh Tae-woo
As the new leader of South Korea, Roh presented an “eight-point plan” for improvement, which included protection of human rights, the political parties’ promotion, lifting media restrictions, freedom of word and advancement in reconsolidation with North Korea. He was more aware of the complexity in ruling than Chun. The Olympic Games, held in South Korea in Seoul in 1988, were under the supervision of President Roh’s government, and happened to be a huge success for the country. They were a symbol of transforming from dictatorship to democracy to the citizens. Additionally, the state made new proposals toward China and Soviet Union; with that, opening their relations to these countries, promoted the Republic of Korea as an international economic power. This was the policy of “Nordpolitik”, which held the goal to normalise the relations with People’s Republic of China and the Soviet