Shorenstein APARC receives grant from Academy of Korean Studies

Shorenstein APARC has received a grant from the Academy of Korean Studies in Seoul which enables the center to publish a series of books on Korea's democratization and social change, under the series title: Korean Democracy: From Birth to Maturity.

Under this three-year grant, the center will publish a series of studies which focus on: 1) the role of social movements in Korean democratization, 2) comparative relevance of the Korean experiences, and 3) impact of democratization on social and political changes.

For the first study the center will build upon its on-going research projects, particularly the Stanford Korean Democracy Project. This project seeks to understand the emergence and evolution of social movements and their role in Korean democratization. During the authoritarian years, when former military generals ruled Korea, various social groups participated in the movement to restore democracy and ensure human rights. Their activism was instrumental to democratic reforms that took place in the summer of 1987 and they continued to play an important role even after democratic transition.

The Stanford University Korea Democracy Project traces the dynamic of this social movement from 1970 to 1993. Based on sourcebooks obtained from the Korea Democracy Foundation, project researchers led by Dr. Gi-Wook Shin have created novel quantitative data sets. Specifically, they have coded the main features of nearly five thousand protest and repression events from 1970 to 1993, using a comprehensive coding scheme developed expressly for this purpose. In addition, researchers have coded an organizational directory that includes characteristics associated with 387 social movement organizations active during this same period. While there are many informative studies of particular movements - such as the Kwangju uprising - in Korea's democracy movement, the Stanford Korea Democracy Project aims to provide a systematic overview of the movement as it developed through the most authoritarian period (1972-84), democratic transition (1987), and the democratic period (post-1987). Two books are expected from this project.

The second study will address the comparative relevance of Korean experiences. The comparison between Korea and other non-Western societies raises many questions about the conditions necessary for democratic transformation, including the role of culture, national identity, social organization, labor politics, and economic modernization. There is also a need to understand how Korea's particular example provides lessons regarding effective democracy promotion. The center plans to host a conference on labor politics in Korean democracy that is designed to develop a theoretical challenge to the Euro-centric theoretical paradigm in labor studies and draw implications for other non-Western societies. In advancing comparative perspectives, the researchers will work closely with Stanford's Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law (CDDRL). The coordinator of their Democracy Program, Larry Diamond, has already published two books that looked at Korea's experience in this comparative framework.

Finally, the third study will assess the impact of democratization on broader social and political changes in South Korea. This will include not only domestic issues but also Korea's relations with other nations. The latter is particularly relevant since Korean democratization took place in the post-cold war era. As such, democratization has provoked Koreans to rethink their views of the North, US-ROK relations and Korea's role in the world. Clearly democratic change has significantly altered the environment in which Korean government policy is made, broadening the public policy dialogue to include non-governmental actors, new media, and politicians who are sensitive to the shifts of public opinion. Researchers at the center will explore this dynamic in supporting the research and publication of a new book on South Korea's democratization and the anti-American wave of 1999-2002, authored by a former senior American official, David Straub, currently a 2007-2008 Pantech Research Fellow at the Center.