South Korea just showed the world how to do democracy

At a time whilst there is a lot of hand-wringing over the disaster of liberal democracy and the upward thrust of corrosive nationalism in the West, South Korea simply supplied a welcome reminder that people power continues to be alive.


In a snap election Tuesday, South Korean democracy voters elected Moon Jae-in as the united states’ next president. Moon, a liberal baby-kisser, took office Wednesday, marking the primary time in a decade that Seoul’s Blue House has been occupied with the aid of a progressive president. His views on engagement with North Korea may also place his authorities unexpectedly at odds with the Trump management.

But it truly is now not what is so placing about Moon’s victory. His upward thrust to power got here amid seven months of political turbulence. First, South Korean media commenced reporting and investigating allegations of corruption and bribery surrounding then-President Park Geun-Hye. Mass protests and criminal court cases accompanied, in the end, main to Park’s impeachment and elimination from strength in March. The election cycle swung into gear, and Moon, a former human rights attorney campaigning on an anti-corruption platform, become boosted by users hungry for the alternate.

South Korea elects Moon Jae-in as president Embed Share Play Video1:03
South Korean’s elected candidate of the Democratic Party, Moon Jae-in, as their new president on May 10, finishing months of political turmoil inside the country. (Reuters)
The protests against Park tapped into full-size frustration inside us of a over the pervasive attain of fundamental South Korean conglomerates and their alleged collusion with political elites. Park’s misdeeds reminded some South Koreans “how we haven’t cared enough approximately politics and have not been retaining close sufficient watch on how the authorities are administered,” stated Kim Wan-kyu, a 34-yr-old office employee who spoke to my colleague Anna Fifield whilst demonstrations first commenced in November.

“South Korea nevertheless has many troubles. But its people, buoyed up by a fantastic wave of civic activism, are showing that they aren’t organized to accept the hooked up manner of doing things,” wrote my colleague Christian Caryl in March, whilst Park become pressured out of office. “They have mounted a superb campaign for trade, and nowadays that marketing campaign has borne the fruit of the most dramatic sort. Their cousins to the north can simplest dream of comparable acts of defiance — which is why their united states remain frozen in time, beholden to a frontrunner whose best plan for the future is tied to the machinery of violence.”
The focus now shifts to what Moon’s presidency may look like. Domestically, he has “promised to improve transparency in authorities appointments and make stronger guidelines on the conglomerates that dominate company South Korea,” wrote Fifield on Tuesday. “Voters had been also involved approximately the anemic economy and the widening disparity among wealthy and negative. Moon promised to put together a huge stimulus bundle, to create 810,000 public-zone positions and to lessen lengthy running hours.” His birthday celebration does now not keep a majority.

But the more urgent question for observers in Washington is how South Korea’s mindset towards North Korea and the Trump management’s moves towards Pyongyang may additionally shift. Moon belongs to a South Korean political tradition that is keen for rapprochement, or as a minimum advantageous engagement, with North Korea. That is at odds with the White House’s aggressive ratcheting up of tensions in the wake of North Korea’s state-of-the-art spherical of missile tests.

“Moon has said he isn’t always against sanctions,” explained educational Andrew Yeo in The Post’s Monkey Cage blog. “But by seeking inter-Korea talks, selling an ‘economic network’ and persuading nearby partners to pursue engagement with as opposed to coercion towards North Korea, the brand new South Korean authorities may additionally discover it hard to coordinate its North Korea coverage with Washington.”

Moon has additionally bristled on the deployment of the U.S.’s sophisticated THAAD missile defense system in South Korea, which Moon claims changed into legal through the preceding government without a proper review and then rapid-tracked earlier than the election. Liberal discontent with THAAD in South Korea turned into deepened via Trump’s own competition that South Korea ought to foot the bill for its deployment. “The perception is that Washington has bullied Seoul into accepting THAAD after which shoved the invoice at its close ally,” wrote Duyeon Kim in Foreign Affairs.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in greets supporters in Seoul after his election victory changed into showed May 9. (Jean Chung/Getty Images)
But there are motives for optimism on U.S.-South Korea ties, too.

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Yeo suggests that “like Korea’s preceding innovative presidents, Moon will searching for to take extra initiative on issues touching on the Korean Peninsula — as opposed to depending on simply the USA or China.” This may also, in reality, be welcome to the Trump administration and its insistence on an America First doctrine that prioritizes extracting the United States from geopolitical quagmires some place else.

“I agree with President Trump is greater affordable than he is commonly perceived,” said Moon to Fifield earlier than the election. “President Trump makes use of strong rhetoric closer to North Korea, however, for the duration of the election campaign, he additionally stated he should speak over a burger with Kim Jong Un. I am for that sort of pragmatic technique to solve the North Korean nuclear problem.”

The Jagons of African Democracy

“There can only be one type of democracy and that is the democracy that recognizes certain pristine notions… “(Muyiwa Falaiye).* Democracy, no doubt, remains the best form of government in Africa. As a result of the dictatorial leadership of our colonial masters, it is only logical to give power back to the people, after independence. Universally and roughly speaking, democracy refers to a government of the people, by the people, and for people. It is a form of government that gives power to the people, and this is what Africa needs. Unfortunately, democracy has been altered and excessively polluted here in Africa.

Africa pretends to practice western democracy, whereas the political modus operandi, is “African Democracy”. In other words, while other Continents practice western democracy, Africa settled for “African Democracy”. This gives us a dichotomy between “democracy in Africa” and “African democracy”. The former is western democracy without any alteration, while the latter is democracy entangled with African cultural values.

Historically speaking, the status quo in most African nations was the practice of African democracy. Apart from our communal societal setup, African democracy was in existence, even before the advent of our colonial masters. In precolonial African societies, African democracy allowed the ruling ‘party’ to conceive the opposition ‘party’ as an enemy. An enemy that will sought any means to destroy the ruling ‘party’. But when the British came, they introduced their own western democracy which allowed the opposition party to act as a checkmate to the ruling party. Also, in this kind of governmental system, the opposition party is expected to give constructive criticisms to the ruling party, not destructive criticisms. This kind of system was indeed alien to most African Societies. But unfortunately, particular during the early post colonial era, this pure democracy being introduced by the British, was abandoned and most African Countries either practiced half of this democracy (which led to the practice of today’s African democracy), or nothing of it. It was at this point that western Democracy was excessively polluted with cultural values.

Due to the wide spread of this African democracy, ordinary people no longer have a voice in politics. African democracy is simply filled with inequality, corruption, nepotism, and so on. Perhaps this is why most African Countries are underdeveloped today. As a Continent who recently got liberated from the claws of colonial dictatorship, African democracy is not what we need right now.

At this juncture, it is paramount to add that I am not advocating for the total eradication of our cultural values.


Rather, I am advocating for the total exclusion of our cultural values from our politics. There is nothing wrong with our African cultural values. But amalgamating cultural values with western democracy, involves rendering a grotesque view of the very concept of democracy. For instance, our cultural values demands that we respect our elders, and the young boys have no business in the discussion or dealings of our elders. In fact, a young boy has no right to question the views of our elders. In a Democratic setting, this is outright inequality. Democracy, demands that everybody involved in the political institution of their society, should have equal rights, no matter their age. So you see, there is a conflictual lacuna between our cultural values, and western democracy. Other examples of these cultural values includes, Godfatherism (a political figure who determines who rules, and is also frequently worshipped by young “godsons”), the power to rule being in the hands of a specific class of wealthy individuals, and so on.

My point is, democracy should be a government of equality, free from all forms of Godfatherism, and where people have equal participatory rights, whether directly or representatively, no matter their age. Hence, democracy should not be situated or practiced within the confines of cultural values. Doing this, amounts to distorting the very concept of democracy. Unfortunately, this is what is being done in Africa here.

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