: K, this is an honest question: is South Korea a democracy today? If so, then how can a democracy outlaw advocacy of a particular economic system- doesn't that violate free speech? Or do you think national security, etc. can justify it? If not, then doesn't it insult you that American leaders continue to call it a friendly democracy, as if Asian people are not entitled to the same freedom of opinion that Americans are?
Good question, NJ.
Korea, much like its other Asian brethren, met its industrialization in the last(20th) century not through its own power, but through colonial capitalism. The rise of the native bourgeoisie and capital did not "suffer" from the counter-offensive of the proletariat and labor such as the Western world did. To make matters worse, Korea has gone through a war which was one of the bloodiest wars in the 20th century. And the South has met the onslaught from its "brothers" in the North.
The result: we have a 19th century capitalistic system with 21st century capitalistic production. Korea met its version of "enlightment" only 13 years ago. This is like going from feudalism to modern capitalism directly without experiencing any political resistance from the people. Still in Korea "resistance" is something to be loathed for many people. Any socialistic demands or resistances are treated as "treason", since technically we still are at war with the North.
Korea became a major capitalist state of the Asias during a cease-fire that actually resembled peace. This meant the labor movements and social counterstrikes of the working class were LEGALLY extinguished in a hunt that resembles the witch hunt of New Salem. No Cold war was colder than here in Korea. The economic and political monopoly of the bourgeoisie raged on unchecked. Imagine a 19th century capitalism that would have evolved today if there were no Marx, no Keynes, and only a huge bundle of McCarthists. That's what Korea was like.
Now Korea claims to be a democracy, and many reformations have eased the situation a bit. But the "traditional archetype" of the 19th century-style bourgeoisie still remain untouched, only repressed a bit through major democratic reforms.
Still, political actions of labor unions are outlawed, and the unionization of the public sector are virtually non-existant. The people are not allowed to take part in supporting or objecting political parties as an organized power. Civil demonstrations are harshly suppressed by the riot police and believe me, we have riot police that make the SWAT look like a joke.
The major problem is the National Security Act. Particularly code 7 which allows arresting and jailing people on accusations of "praising and inciting the ways of the enemy". As you can see, it is incredibly vague. Virtually any type of action can be interpreted under the category of "praising and inicting". And the law still states North Korea as the "enemy".
As long as North Korea claims itself a socialist republic, the National Security Act gives unlimited power to the authorities against civil resistances and actions.
And in Korea, the NSA LEGALLY comes before the constitutional rights of free speech, freedom of thought, and the right to organize onselves.. beause we still are at war.
Who ever heard of a cease fire that lasts almost 50 years? The governments of Korea NEVER EVER made any efforts toward technically ENDING the war and restoring the technical status of "peace".
There are some more interesting stuff concerning this, America and the division of social movements, but I'll talk about that later.
So you tell me NJ, are we doing democracy?