Good troublemakers are the key to fixing democracy in South Korea
President Yoon may not appreciate that strengthening democratic institutions and norms starts by empowering the people
In his first speech as South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol claimed the country faces a democratic “crisis” rooted in anti-intellectualism. According to him, science and truth are the basis of rational discussion, and without rational discussion, people cannot reach a compromise.
But while democracy may be under siege on Korean Peninsula and elsewhere, Yoon misdiagnoses the origins of these struggles. Old, richer democracies like the U.S., United Kingdom and France have all faced fundamental challenges to their democratic rules, procedures and norms in recent years. Politicians with extreme political agendas have become competitive in nationwide elections, and even the peaceful transition of power — the most fundamental and long-standing rule of democracy — was challenged in Jan. 2021 by a mob of Trump supporters who attacked the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
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