Libmonster ID: U.S.-1236
Author(s) of the publication: E. KIM

E. KIM, PhD in Philosophy

In February 2008, the new President of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Lee Myung-bak, took office. The ten-year period in power of the center-left forces has ended. The country's highest post was taken by the leader of the Conservatives.

Before making predictions about possible changes in the country's domestic and foreign policy, it is necessary to assess the state in which Lee Myung-bak took over the country from his predecessor.


Over the past five years, under the 16th President Roh Moo-hyun, South Korea has experienced many remarkable events. Having completely overcome the consequences of the 1997 crisis, the country had a budget surplus for all these years, reached the level of $ 20 thousand per capita, and restored its credit rating. In 2006, GDP reached more than $ 930 billion at currency purchasing power parity1, and foreign trade more than doubled in five years, reaching more than $ 700 billion in 2007. The capitalization of companies has increased significantly. For example, the market capitalization of the company "Hyundai Heavy Industries" has grown from 1.5 billion rubles. up to $ 27.8 billion 2

Capitalization growth in certain sectors of the economy was: construction firms - by 618.4%, pharmaceutical companies-by 401.3%, medical institutions - by 385%, ferrous metallurgy-by 374.4%, construction machinery-by 353.8%.

Foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Korean economy has increased significantly. Thus, if a total of $ 138 billion was attracted to the country in the period from 1962 to 2007, then almost 40% of it - $ 51.5 billion-was invested in the country's economy during the years of President Putin's rule, i.e., during the period from 2003 to 2007.3

During the same period, Seoul has signed free trade agreements with Chile, Singapore, and the United States, almost agreed on the same agreement with the European Union, Canada, and is negotiating with China, a group of Latin American countries that are members of MERCOSUR*.

South Korea has become a space power over the years. In July 2007, the Ariran-2 satellite was launched from the Plesetsk cosmodrome with the help of a Russian rocket. Its own spaceport has been built in the south of the country, from where a new satellite will be launched in 2008 with the help of a Russian launch vehicle. After undergoing pre-flight training in Star City, the first South Korean female cosmonaut Lee So Yeon flew into space.

The Republic of Korea has made major diplomatic achievements over the years. Ban Ki-moon, who held the post of Foreign Minister at the time of his election, was elected UN Secretary-General. There has been a positive shift in the situation on the Korean peninsula for the country: a multilateral mechanism for ensuring peace and security in the region has begun to be implemented in the form of six-party talks on nuclear disarmament of the Korean peninsula. The second inter-Korean summit was held, the first talks between the heads of government of the Republic of Korea and the DPRK in the last 15 years took place, and a program of large-scale economic and humanitarian cooperation was drawn up.4 In October 2007, the "Declaration on the Development of North-South Relations, Peace and Prosperity" was signed, which contains specific areas of cooperation and commitments of the parties. North and South agreed to continue working on the unification of the country on the basis of the principles formed by the European Commission.-

* MERCOSUR is a South American common market with members including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Associate members are Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru.

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In the Joint Declaration of June 15, 2000, they confirmed their readiness to adhere to the principle of "uri minjok kiri", i.e. achieving unification by the Koreans themselves. They pledged to "make changes in inter-Korean relations and turn them into relations of mutual respect and trust, putting themselves above differences in ideology and systems," to refrain from interfering in each other's internal affairs, and to resolve issues in bilateral relations in the spirit of "reconciliation, cooperation and unification."

The DPRK and ROK also expressed their intention to establish an appropriate institutional and legal framework and their desire to actively seek dialogue and contacts in all areas, including parliamentary activities, to expand and develop inter-Korean relations, subordinating them to the tasks of unifying the country.

A certain nervousness in the capitals of other participants in the six-party talks was caused by Kim Jong Il's proposal to convene a conference of three or four interested countries at the highest level to conclude a treaty that would end the Korean War, legally transferring the armistice regime to a state of permanent peace, legally marking the end of the war.

It is especially important that the proposed three-or four-party format of negotiations on signing a peace treaty provides for the participation of Kazakhstan. As you know, the DPRK for many years ignored South Korea and insisted on signing such a treaty between the DPRK and the United States. This position of Pyongyang was motivated by the fact that at one time Seoul refused to sign the Armistice Agreement in Korea, and South Korea is not an independent state, since its armed forces are under the command of an American general. The current position of the DPRK radically changes the status of the ROK in the future forum on this issue, the convening of which is provided for, among other things, in the joint statement of the participants of the six-party talks of September 19, 2005, and in fact means recognition by the DPRK of the sovereignty of the ROK, at least in this matter.

The greatest attention is paid to the issues of economic cooperation. The essence of the decisions of the inter-Korean summit on the need for "balanced development of the national economy and joint prosperity" is actually reduced to the intention to create a single economic space on the Korean peninsula.

The launch pad for this project is likely to be the "Special Zone of Peace and Cooperation in the Yellow Sea" in the Kaesong Industrial Zone - Haeju (port in the DPRK) - Incheon (port in the ROK) triangle. In addition to the already existing joint fishing zone, a special economic zone will be created there, and the transport infrastructure will be modernized in order to use it jointly. Total expenditures (budget and private investments) for the implementation of the projects provided for in the declaration will range from 11 to 16 billion rubles. United States dollars.

Returning to the results of President Roh Moo-hyun's rule, it should be noted that the role of women in society has grown significantly under the 16th President. At the beginning of 2006, women accounted for 42% of the total employed population. At the same time, they make up more than 3/4 of employees in the public catering and service sector, more than 2/3 - in medicine and social security. Data from 167 financial institutions, including banks and insurance companies, show that of the 20,000 jobs created in these organizations in 2006, almost 60% were occupied by women. And even more recently, exclusively male positions, such as prosecutors and judges, are increasingly occupied by women. Thus, in 2006, 54% of newly appointed prosecutors and judges were women. An even more remarkable trend is observed in the sphere of highly paid professions (legislators, high-ranking civil servants, lawyers, doctors and university professors). In 2006, out of 220,000 people employed in this field, 154,000, or 69.4%, were women.5

Given the growing role of women in culture, science, education, and business, and as part of the further democratization of society, Han Myung-suk, a long-time activist in the human rights and environmental movement, was appointed Prime Minister in 2006. At one time, she even served several years in prison on charges of communist propaganda, although her activities had nothing to do with communist ideology.

And yet, in the 2007 presidential election, both the majority of women and the majority of young people, especially in their 20s and 30s, voted for a representative of the opposition, rather than supporters of the ruling president.


What are the reasons for this electoral behavior? Let's focus on the main ones.

Despite the progress made in recent years, many sectors of the South Korean economy were practically stagnant. Revenues grew mainly for large export-oriented enterprises, mainly for trade with China, as well as for shipbuilding companies. At the same time, the country's economic development rate began to fall, and investment in the country declined.-

page 25

investment in industrial production, it became increasingly difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to survive, and the credit debt of citizens grew, which in 2006 alone increased by 14.1% and amounted to 290.7 trillion won (about 290 billion US dollars).6, which is 37.2% of GDP.

South Korean capital has moved abroad in search of better conditions for its use. Thus, in 2007, South Korean firms and individuals invested $ 27.64 billion in foreign countries, which exceeded the figures of 2006 by 49%. (It should be emphasized that this is not a flight of speculative foreign capital, but of South Korean capital, which is a clear indication of the country's problems.) Almost a quarter of this amount was invested in China, $ 4.35 billion. $ 2.5 billion for the United States and $ 2.5 billion for Vietnam 7.

Contrary to earlier promises made by the presidential administration But about reducing the polarization of income, it grew. For example, the income of the 10% of the rich grew 20% faster than the 10% of the poor, 8 the number of the poorest did not decrease, and the standard of living, according to the majority of the population, decreased.

The cost of housing increased significantly, which, on the one hand, made it difficult to buy an apartment even for representatives of the middle classes, on the other hand, led to an increase in the number of apartments that did not find a buyer. At the end of 2007, the number of such apartments increased almost 5-fold compared to March 2003, and in Seoul, the number of unsold apartments increased 10-fold.9

On the other hand, the real estate tax has increased significantly. This has led to the fact that older people who have retired often do not have the opportunity to pay it, and for working people these taxes have become very burdensome.

The number of citizens who work on a temporary basis, rather than on a permanent basis, under a contract has significantly increased in the country. So, if in 2002 there were 1.1 million such people, then during the rule of the" government of broad popular participation " of the President, but their number increased to 5.7 million people by the fall of 2007.10

The previous government spent very little on social needs, i.e. on material support for citizens in old age and disability, protection of motherhood and childhood, medical care and education, etc. South Korea spent less than 6% of GDP in 2006, compared with 16.2% in the United States (in 2003), 17.7% in Japan, 27.6% in Germany, and 31.3% in Sweden .11

The consumption of alcoholic beverages is growing in the country. Thus, in 2006, citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan drank 3.16 million tons of alcoholic beverages, which is 80 thousand tons more than in 2005. On average, every adult in the country drank 80 bottles of beer, 72 bottles of soju (Korean vodka with a strength of 19 to 27 degrees) and 1.7 bottles of whiskey in a year. (The capacity of Korean beer and sozhou bottles is 0.380 liters.) 12

The Republic of Korea, according to data for 2005, had the highest number of suicides among developed countries - 24.7 people per 100 thousand. population (for comparison, in 1982 this figure was 6.8 and was one of the lowest in the world). Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the population. As for Korean youth, suicide ranked first as the leading cause of death for 20-year-olds, according to 2005 data from Seoul State University Hospital in Bundan.

President Putin came to power under the slogans of a resolute fight against corruption, for the moral purification of society, but corruption and moral flaws among his assistants and close associates exceeded all possible limits.

What is worth, for example, the scandalous resignation in 2006 of Vice-Premier and Education Minister Kim Byung-joon just 12 days after the appointment due to the proven charges of plagiarism. It turned out that in his doctoral dissertation, he simply copied many dozens of pages from the works of his students and postgraduates. 14 Or the story in 2007 of presidential aide for political affairs, former head of the Budget Agency Byung Yang-gun, who arranged a multibillion-dollar (in won) budget and entrepreneurial infusion for his mistress at the art museum where she worked, then got her appointed curator of Korea's largest Gwangju Biennale.15 Ben himself was given a suspended sentence, but his mistress, who embezzled part of the money intended for the museum, received four years in prison.

And corruption scandals related to the largest corporations in Korea, for example, Hyundai Motors or Samsung, which created multimillion-dollar funds specifically to bribe politicians and officials. The investigations launched in 2006 are still ongoing.

President Roh Moo-hyun has been very inconsistent in his relations with the United States. His victory in the 2002 election was due to anti-American bravado, but two months after his inauguration, he supported the American invasion of Iraq and even sent a 3,000-strong military engineering brigade there.

However, as for the situation on the Korean Peninsula, the Noh administration's assessments differed from the views of the United States.

The DPRK's 2006 missile and nuclear tests and the international response to them led to unprecedented pressure on the ROK government from both the right-wing forces inside the country and the US administration, which insisted on the toughest possible response to Pyongyang's actions, and on the rejection of the Roh Moo-hyun administration's policy of "peace and co-prosperity" towards the DPRK. It came to the point that presidential adviser Song Min-sun openly declared the existence of disagreements between the ROK and the United States regarding North Korea's policy, proclaiming the right of South Korea to pursue its own policy on this issue, without regard to the United States. He even raised the question of whether US actions always coincide with the opinion of the international community, 16 as well as whether the foreign policy positions of the ROK and the US should always coincide, even though they are military and political allies. At the same time, Song Min-sun claimed that if the missiles are North-

page 26

If anyone is threatened by North Korea, it is primarily the United States 17. It is clear that the presidential adviser, who was later appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs, made such statements not without the tacit consent, and perhaps even the clear will of the president.

In short, the situation in the country has developed in such a way that in the last two years the ruling party, of which President No was a member and which was created to support him, has lost all additional parliamentary and local government elections, as well as elections for governors and mayors of cities with provincial rights. Its rating throughout 2007 was only 10%, compared to 40% of the opposition party's support.

The society has formed a strong opinion that the regime should be changed and that in no case should a person be elected to the highest state post who would be somehow connected with the current president. Thus, the ruling party has become a hostage to Noh Moo Hyun's growing unpopularity. The forced withdrawal of the president from its ranks in the spring of 2007 did not help the party either.


Since it was obvious that almost any candidate from the opposition Hannar Party (PVS) had a chance to be elected president, the fight for the nomination of the PVS candidate was of the greatest interest. At the beginning of 2007, there were three of them, and all, of course, influential and bright personalities. They are Park Geun-hye, the former party leader and daughter of former President Park Jung-hee, Lee Myung-bak, the former mayor of Seoul, and Song Hak - gu, the former governor of the Gyeonggi Metropolitan Province. However, Son, due to the low prospect of winning over his influential rivals, decided to leave the party in March and try to run for another party.

The main fight unfolded between Park and Lee. Moreover, if the fight between them was held in the American or French manner, there is no doubt that Park would have been nominated as a candidate. But the complicated procedure for determining a candidate, certain points of the party's charter and the mood of society did not allow it to win.

The party's charter stipulates that any person applying for the nomination of a presidential candidate from the party should not hold any party posts for one and a half years before the election. Park Geun-hye, who in 2004 practically saved the PVS from disarray after the failure to impeach the president, but also led it to victory in all additional and municipal elections, was forced to leave the post of party leader in June 2006 in accordance with the charter.

Immediately after that, Li's supporters took the leading positions in the party. It was supported by former President Kim Yong-sam and his entire cohort of political associates and followers, as well as 1,016 university rectors and deans, and 19 cultural figures.

Lee managed to win only due to the results of public opinion polls, and they consistently throughout 2007 showed that he was supported by about 40 - 45%, while Park - 20 - 25%. South Korea's Confucian society was not yet ready to elect a woman president.


There was another reason, perhaps the most important one. Voters wanted to see a "strong business executive" at the head of the country who could revive the economy. They were clearly impressed by the long-term economic development program presented by Lee Myung-bak, which he formulated in the form of a memorable set of numbers-747: by analogy with the Boeing-747 aircraft, symbolizing a high technical level, reliability, and comfort in Korea. The first figure, 7, meant ensuring annual GDP growth of 7%. Under the number 4 is the achievement of GDP per capita in the next 10 years of 40 thousand dollars, and finally, the last figure is 7 - in 10 years, South Korea should take the 7th place among the strongest economies in the world.

Of course, all this was purely pre-election rhetoric. Even if South Korea's GDP per capita is $ 40,000 by 2020, then, with a possible population of 55 million, this would give a total GDP of $ 2.2 trillion, which would be lower than the GDP of France, Brazil or the United Kingdom, which by then would occupy 7 - 9 places in the world. And ahead of these countries, according to experts, will be the United States, China, Japan, Germany, Russia and India.

To solve economic and environmental problems, as well as improve inter-Korean transport links, Lee Myung-bak promised, if elected, to build a canal that will run along the main rivers of the country from Busan through the entire Korean Peninsula, including the territory of North Korea.

His election program also included a promise to cut taxes, spend on mobile communications (by the way, in South Korea, tariffs are cheaper than in Russia), reduce state interference in the economy, reduce the state apparatus, restore order in the education system, and change the system of selecting applicants in universities.

As for inter-Korean relations, Lee Myung-bak said that large-scale cooperation with the DPRK is possible only if North Korea renounces its military nuclear program.


The ruling party, which after numerous splits and mergers became known as the United Democratic New Party (UNN), has prepared several fail-safe, in its opinion, methods of fighting the opposition presidential candidate. So, in the case of Park's nomination, it was intended to oppose former Prime Minister Han Myung-suk. If Lee Myung-bak is brought forward, other options could be used, including his arrest on charges of financial fraud.

Shortly before the government elections

page 27

The case of an American citizen, Kim Kyung-joon, a former owner of a South Korean venture capital firm, who embezzled almost $ 40 million contributed by Korean shareholders, was launched. and he fled to the United States. There, he was arrested and, although the South Korean prosecutor's office demanded his extradition, chose to use American laws, according to which the United States does not extradite its citizens to other countries for trial. However, three months before the election, he unexpectedly renounces this right and expresses his willingness to go to Korea to appear in a local court.

At the same time, he claimed that Lee Myung-bak, as a co-owner of the company, was aware of all his machinations. In October 2007, Kim Kyung Joon actually arrives in Seoul and begins to give evidence.

The Korean public was very interested in watching the twists and turns of the case on charges of Lee Myung-bak's involvement in financial fraud. But at the same time, his rating did not decrease in any way. And the prosecutor appointed at the insistence of the ruling party at the time, after a forty-day investigation, completely acquitted Lee Myung-bak. In April 2008, Kim Kyung Joon was sentenced to 10 years for fraud and defamation.

In early November 2007, an event occurred that completely destroyed all the plans and projects of supporters of the acting president to discredit or even remove Lee Myung-bak from the race. Unexpectedly, the founder of the PVS party, Lee Hwe Chan, who previously served as Prime Minister and chairman of the Supreme Court, announced his intention to participate in the presidential race. Lee Hwe Chan, who had already been nominated for president twice, was considered even more conservative than Lee Myung-bak. And if he became president, he would definitely want to punish those who organized a false campaign against him in the 2002 elections and took away an almost guaranteed victory. So the option of Lee Hwe Chan's victory was even worse for the Noh supporters than Lee's victory.

Two weeks before the election, Lee Myung-bak announced that he would donate his entire fortune (about $ 39 million) to charity, regardless of the election results. 20 However, the voter did not react to this gesture in any way, at least, his rating did not decrease or increase after that.

To implement the planned reforms, it was important for Lee not only to win the presidential election, but also to gain a majority in parliament in order to pass the laws he needed, including the law on government reform. For example, he suggested reducing the number of ministries from 18 to 13.21 It was extremely important for the President's supporters to win a majority in the April 2008 parliamentary elections. In principle, few doubted that the PVS would win the election. This is also evidenced by the fact that the number of people who expressed their desire to participate as candidates from the PVS has significantly increased, increasing by 52% compared to the 2004 elections, to 1,049 people. 22

The parliamentary elections held on 9 April 2008 brought victory to the PVS, which won 153 seats out of 299. The main opponent, who changed its name to the United Democratic Party (UDP) after the presidential elections, won only 80 seats in parliament. One could speak of a convincing victory for Lee Myung-bak's supporters. But in reality, this victory was a definite setback for the new president and his supporters.

His party, which had the support of almost 60% of voters three and a half months before the parliamentary elections, was content with 40% of the votes cast for its national list. In addition, a record low turnout was recorded (62.9% of registered voters took part in the presidential election, and only 46% in the parliamentary elections).

Separate steps taken by the newly elected president's administration and the actions of the party's leadership led to a decrease in support for the PVS from voters. Moreover, key figures from among the president's closest associates in the party, such as General Secretary of the party Lee Ban Oh, former member of the Supreme Council of the People's Liberation Army Lee Jae Oh, who had previously won convincingly in their districts, lost to their rivals.


In the field of foreign policy, Lee Myung-bak intends to pursue a policy that he calls pragmatic. Relations with the United States, China, Japan, and Russia are considered the most important. Immediately after the election, the new president met with the ambassadors of these countries, and in January sent his special representatives there. On February 13, 2008, Lee Myung-bak issued a statement that full mutual trust should be established in relations between Seoul and Washington, calling for increased joint efforts to resolve the North Korean nuclear issue.

For the first time in its history, the US Congress adopted a special resolution welcoming Lee's election as President of the Republic of Korea. The United States sent an impressive delegation to the inauguration, headed by Secretary of State K. Rice. For the first time, Russia and Japan were represented at the inauguration by high-ranking officials-Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov and Prime Minister Ya. Fukuda.

Unlike in previous years, the visit of the new president of South Korea to Russia is likely to take place in the year of taking office (the last three presidents came to Russia the next year after taking office). As follows from the statements of the new leadership, Seoul intends to cooperate with Russia both in a bilateral format and in a trilateral one, including North Korea.

They express their wishes to develop cooperation in the field of economy in the Far East and Eastern Siberia, in the development of mineral resources, including energy carriers, as part of South Korea's policy of diversifying energy supplies, as well as in trade.,

page 28

technology, science (especially in its fundamental branches), space research, culture, and education. It is planned to mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries in 2010. Year of Russia in the Republic of Korea and Year of the Republic of Korea in Russia.

Time will tell what the real success of the new president's administration will be, because one thing is pre - election promises, and another is real life. The domestic political situation, the global economic and political situation, and many other factors can seriously affect the practical affairs of the new president.

1 Problems of the Far East. 2007, N 4, pp. 13-14.


3 Korea: a view from Russia. Reports presented at the XI Scientific Conference of Korean studies in Russia and CIS countries. Moscow, March 29 - 30, 2007. Moscow, Institute of the Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2007, p. 125.

4 См.: Korea and World Affairs. Vol. 31, No. 4. Winter 2007, p. 509 - 514 518 - 525.

5 The Korea Herald, 24.04.2007.

6 200704090020.asp


8-20% of the rich have incomes 7.64 times higher than the poor. At the same time, the incomes of the rich are growing 20% faster -

9 The Korea Herald, 16.02.2008.

10 Korea Focus. Vol. 15, No. 4, Winter 2007, p. 11.


12 17/200704170063.asp

13 23/200704230006.asp





18 The complexity of the procedure for determining a candidate consisted in the fact that 20% of votes were given by members of Parliament, another 20% by meetings of party members, another 20% by meetings of sympathizers of the party, and 20% by non - party voters who were not related to the party, but participated in meetings to nominate a presidential candidate from the PVS. And finally, the last 20% were determined on the basis of surveys conducted by the largest Korean public opinion research agencies among 30 thousand voters - . html


20 Yonhap news. 09.05.2005.

21 2007/12/08/200712080031.asp



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