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The Soldier and the State in South Korea: Crafting Democratic Civilian Control of the Military

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Authors
Kim, Ki-Joo
Issue Date
2014-12
Publisher
Institute of International Affairs, Graduate School of International Studies, Seoul National University
Citation
Journal of International and Area Studies, Vol.21 No.2, pp. 119-131
Keywords
South KoreaCivil-Military RelationsDemocratic Civilian ControlMinistry of National DefenseNational Defense Committee
Abstract
This study assess the extent of democratic civilian control of the military in South Korea by examining civilianization of the Ministry of National Defense (MND) and parliamentary oversight over the military focusing on the role of the National Defense Committee (NDC). The MND and the NDC are key actors in civil-military relations; nevertheless, little attention is paid to the role of these institutions in improving democratic consolidation. This research found that although civilian governments in South Korea had successfully implemented parliamentary control of the military in terms of preventing the military from politics in the process of democratic transitions and consolidation, they had less success in establishing democratic civilian control of the MND. This is due largely to the ongoing high security threat in the Korean peninsula. Facing North Korean threat, the military is not ready to accept true civilians as its top leaders on the premise that civilians may not be able to perform the significant roles of minister and vice minister effectively because they do not have full experience and professional knowledge about the military. As a result, the MND retains a significant institutional autonomy in the top leadership. The research argues that civilianizing the top leadership of the MND will be one of the most important steps for South Korea to go toward deepening democratic civil-military relations in the new era of integration.
ISSN
1226-8550
Language
English
URI
http://hdl.handle.net/10371/96573
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Graduate School of International Studies (국제대학원)Dept. of International Studies (국제학과)Journal of International and Area StudiesJournal of International and Area Studies vol.21 (2014)
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