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The Role of The Military in the Political and Economic Development of the Republic of Korea

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The Republic of Korea has enjoyed considerable economic development in the last twenty years. Until recently, however, political development has lagged. The Korean military has played a series of important, if often unpopular, roles in these two areas: as the holder of a veto in the political background, as a guardian against internal and external threats, as a promoter of social mobility and economic development and as a political institution builder. However, as Korea has become an increasingly complex and economically developed society, the military and the political systems have faced the difficult task of defining a new role- a role that permits continued movement from authoritarianism and yet enables the military to safeguard the society from lingering threats. Indeed, a new conception of civil-military relations is being developed in Korea, but the common challenge first noted by Samuel P. Huntington (namely that the military institutions of any society are shaped by two forces: a functional imperative stemming from the threats to the society's security and a societal imperative arising from the social forces, ideologies, and institutions dominant within the society) remains.


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Affiliations: 1: James Madison College, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, U.S.A.


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