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While many countries around the world have slipped toward authoritarianism, South Korea has won praise for exhibiting democratic resilience through “candlelight protests” and a presidential impeachment. But Korea's democracy has likewise begun to show signs of decay, as democratic norms and spirits have been violated under the guise of rule of law. Troublingly, this trend has been growing under the government led by former pro-democracy activists. In this panel, scholars of Korean democracy, including a former activist, will discuss whether concerns about Korea's democratic decline are warranted and whether Korean liberals are truly liberal.
Byongjin Ahn is a professor of American Studies at Kyung Hee University, where he was the rector of the Global Academy for Future Civilization. His main research area includes American presidency and its implications on Korean politics. He is currently writing a book on the rise and decline of Korean liberalism. He holds a Ph.D. from the New School for Social Research where he received Hannah Arendt Award for his doctoral dissertation, “Learning to Speak American: The Use of Values Appeals in the 1984 and 1996 Presidential Elections.” He has published several books in Korean, including The Roots of Crisis in Democracy and Conservatism after Democratization (pulbit press, 2008).
Aram Hur is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Missouri, where she also serves as Co-Director for the MU Institute for Korean Studies. Her research focuses on national politics and democracy, with particular focus on issues of national identity change, integration, and democratic support in East Asia. Her work is published in academic journals such as the British Journal of Political Science, Comparative Politics, and Journal of East Asian Studies, and has been cited in media outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. She holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University, M.P.P. from the Harvard Kennedy School, and B.A. from Stanford University.
The discussion will be led by Gi-Wook Shin, William J. Perry Professor of Contemporary Korea and director of Shorestein Asia-Pacific Research Center at Stanford University.