chapter  8
22 Pages

The new rich and the new middle class in South Korea: the rise and fall of the 'golf republic'

This chapter discusses, in the changed conditions brought about by democratisation and continued social and economic change, the response of the state to the rise of these relatively affluent social strata and social aspirations. It will be argued that this response has been twofold and to an extent ambiguous. Initially in politics, means were sought to enhance the appeal of the ruling party to individuals of this background and outlook. Over time, and especially after the inauguration of the Kim Young-sam Administration, the burgeoning of money-based politics brought a sharp correction from the state. In policy - for reasons of the balance of trade but also in the interests of public morality - the state has sought to constrain manifestations of an affluent lifestyle, but has found that a general commitment to liberalisation and deregulation has lessened the availability of effective policy levers.