Chapter 7 examines the case of nuclear safety policies and politics in South Korea. The study of nuclear energy in South Korea is important from the point of view of this book since it represents a previously developing country that has been committed to nuclear power as part of its growth strategy. Until recently, indeed, South Korea seemed to be bucking a trend towards a slowdown in building nuclear power plant. This growth was led by a strong, centrally directed, capitalist state.

However, in the aftermath of the Fukushima accident in 2011 a substantial anti-nuclear movement gained strength. Nuclear safety institutions were made more independent and more precise safety rules were issued, with safety retrofits being ordered in existing plants. Egalitarian influences seem powerful in the aftermath of Fukushima. These involve strong ‘bottom-up’ mobilisations, heightened support for environmentalist objectives, and the use of ‘bottom-up’ methods to decide energy policy at a local and even at a national level. The emergence of a stronger form of ecological modernisation in the area of nuclear policy may be associated with opposition to the centralised political and economic industrial hierarchy that at least used to dominate South Korea.