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Comparative Perspectives On Human Rights In Korea

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Chapter Summary

In Korea, the supremacy of the military, not the Constitution, has been the dominant pattern, at least since 1961. Yet the legitimacy of this supremacy is widely questioned. But more than the above, the pivotal issue for human rights and for Korean constitutionalism in general may be the succession problem. Transitions are needed on three levels: (1) orderly passage under law and constitution from one president and leadership group to another; (2) peaceful transition from military supremacy to civilian sovereignty and the supremacy of the constitution; and (3) a generational change from current leaders who came to maturity in the 1940s and 1950s out of conditions of colonial oppression, war, indigenous authoritarianism, and economic want, to the next generation of social and political leaders whose seminal experiences were in the 1960s and 1970s, and who would like liberty along with affluence, and somehow a less taut relationship with North Korea.

Keywords: civilian sovereignty; constitutionalism; human rights; Korea; military supremacy; succession problem



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