Serving, not steering: the Korean experience of government distrust and public protest in the foreign policy making process of the U.S.-Korea beef agreement
In 2008, South Korea suffered a great loss of public trust in government. Since May 2, 2008, street protests against U.S. beef imports and the April 2008 beef agreement continued for more than 100 days. These public protests started with peaceful candlelight vigils but some of them turned violent in the end of May. According to a white paper on the protests published by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, for 106 days from May 2 until Aug. 15, there were 2,398 separate rallies drawing 932,000 people. Among them, 1,476 protesters were indicted for participating in illegal and violent protests. 100 police officers suffered serious injuries and 401 light ones. 88 civilians were seriously injured. The South Korean National Assembly had to remain idle for more than 80 days due to numerous political debates and the approval rating of President Myung-Bak Lee plummeted from 40 percent range to near 20 percent during the protest period. This Dissertation started from a question of why people were so angry against their government. The whole process of the U.S.-South Korea Beef negotiation was reviewed, focusing on whether or not Korean government and its negotiators tried to make a domestic agreement with people. For the purpose, this dissertation developed an integrated framework by the combination of the two level-game theory with the advocacy coalition framework. The framework was also used to investigate the effect of external factors outside the Korean policy-making system of the beef negotiation. The framework reviewed win-set changes of both countries, especially focusing on the change of Korean win-set size. Then, the whole process of the beef negotiation in the dissertation framework was interpreted in the aspect of the New Public Service. This interpretation gave the dissertation the theoretical importance, showing the way in which the interpretation contributed to the decision-making theory. Findings in the dissertation revealed that there was a deep disagreement between what Korean government wanted and what Korean people actually desired. Finally, this dissertation considered how public administrators could increase communication with their people in the Korean policy-making system. Janet and Robert Denhardt's shared values approach to the public interest and the decision-making process would be one answer.