It is difficult to believe, but South Korea came to democracy only in 1988 with the election of Roh Tae-woo as president — its democratic institutions are really newer there than in places like post-Franco Spain or post-Pinochet Chile, and akin to the gradual opening of democracies in which were effectively one-party states, such as post-war Italy under the Christian Democrats and post-war Japan under the Liberal Democratic Party.
With that in mind, South Korea goes to the polls a week from today to elect its legislature — a competitive election that will serve as a precursor to next year’s presidential race.
The two main parties are the Saenuri Party (새누리당 or the ‘Saenuri-dang’), the conservative party, renamed from the Grand National Party only in February, and the Democratic United Party (민주통합당, or the ‘Minju Tonghap-dang’), the chief liberal party. Two smaller parties include the Liberty Forward Party, a second conservative party, and the Unified Progressive Party, a leftish party. Continue reading One week until South Korean elections