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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

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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

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.

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  • 2012

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The reliable promise of middle power fighters: the ROK military's COIN success in Vietnam and Iraq

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Counterinsurgency (COIN) is a long process that even great powers struggle with. Nevertheless, South Korea as a middle power was successful with COINs in Vietnam and Iraq. What were the

Counterinsurgency (COIN) is a long process that even great powers struggle with. Nevertheless, South Korea as a middle power was successful with COINs in Vietnam and Iraq. What were the drivers for the Republic of Korea (ROK) military's success? This dissertation maintains that the unusual nature of missions coupled with political/socio-cultural advantages are sufficient conditions for success of the middle power COIN. COIN missions are seen as unusual to middle powers. A rare mission stimulates military forces to fight harder because they recognize this mission as an opportunity to increase their national prestige. COIN mission success is also more probable for middle powers because their forces make the best of their country's political/socio-cultural advantages. The ROK military's COINs are optimal cases to test these hypotheses. The ROK military's COIN in Vietnam was an extremely rare mission, which increased its enthusiasm. This enthusiasm was converted into appropriate capabilities. By identifying battleground dynamics, the ROK forces initially chose an enemy-oriented approach based upon the method of company-led tactical base, and then later introduced a population-led method. South Korea's political/socio-cultural advantages also contributed to its military success in Vietnam. The Confucius culture that South Koreans and Vietnamese shared allowed the ROK forces to win the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese population. The mission in Iraq was also a rare and important one for national prestige. Accordingly, South Korean forces were equipped with pride and were enthusiastic about missions in Arbil. They changed their organization from a rigid one to a more flexible one by strengthening civil-military units. The ROK military possessed the ability to choose a population-centric approach. South Korea's political and cultural climate also served as an advantage to accomplish COIN in Iraq. The culture of Jung allowed ROK soldiers to sincerely help the local Iraqis. This project contributes to developing a theory of the middle power COIN. The findings also generate security policy implications of how to deal with contingent situations led by the collapse of the North Korean regime and how to redefine the ROK military strategy for the future.

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  • 2011