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Politics of North and South Korea

Throughout the history of politics, our societies have encountered a large variety of different political and governing systems. From systems in which idealists introduced to our world, believing that they are capable of letting the world function and operate in a more efficient manner came two of the most popular political ideologies that most would recognize. They are known as democracy and communism. Even now during the twenty-first century, issues relating to the struggle between these two beliefs are still rising in different regions of the world where people are demanding more freedom.

Knowing that both democracy and communism are pretty much the total opposite extremes of the other, often we hear events in which democratic countries such as the United States attempting to spread their political principles into other non-democratic areas. An interesting place to look at would be North Korea and South Korea, a place under the same name but ruled in totally opposite fashion as the North seems to valued control, while the South seems to valued freedom.

Although people nowadays always encourage and promote individual rights and freedom, does democracy really allow a more efficient governing process? Or are the ways of communist still holding certain advantages over the idea of individualism? Perhaps a more in-depth look into the difference in North and South Koreas political system would bring answers to this question. In a certain Point of view, Korea has 2 distinctive Political cultures and values. Starting off with South Korea, or the Republic of Korea, the political culture of South Korea is a mix of native, Chinese and Western elements.

These elements includes things such as the belief that human society was an integral part of the whole universe interrelated with it in maintaining order and harmony, acceptance of harmony, order, and consensus as major political values and purposes. , preference for decision-making by consensus, rather than by majority vote or force of arms; yet at the same time, unwillingness to compromise on matters perceived to involve principle, emphasis on form and procedure, as well as substantive performance, as key elements in maintaining order, and a lot more1.

In a certain points of view, South Koreas values are opposite to many of those of the West, as the West often value progress, individual freedom, change, adversary relations, equality of all persons, government by consent of the people, the importance of civic duty, and separation of political from economic and social affairs2. Due to the fact that it is similar to the ways of China and Japan, South Korea wants to modernize itself in order to meet the increasing expectations of its people, and for self-protection as a country.

During this process, a mixed political culture is still developing from a freer course of action3. Although the country itself is significantly freer than those with an authoritarian system, South Koreas voting and citizen participation in other political events are still vaguely understood by the general public back in the late 1950s, as their political parties are often not clearly established, since the parties are still carrying much of the old fashion behavior in which the leader is leading for personal ambition and dictatorial tradition.

It was not until February 26th of 1998 that South Koreas President Chun, peacefully retired and handed his power to the next successor after an 8 year president term, an act that created history for South Korea, the first event that represented a new way of government for law and public opinion4. During the mid 1980s, there was a debate between 2 major issues. The first one is regarding should the president be elected by the public citizens, or indirectly by voted by within the government as the way the government wants.

The second issue is to pick between presidential system, the parliament system, and the duel-executive system of the French. At the end of October 1987, the final decision was made in which the direct presidential election5. For North Korea, most of North Koreas political culture is also based on the old traditions but difference from South Korea, would be the fact that their government adopted Marxism as its political philosophy6.

A country in which Feudalism is replace by capitalism, where workers eventually start a revolution and rejects capitalists by means of violence, where a dictator would soon be elected at the very end. The means of production are taken from private owners and controlled by a socialist system until the point where the country reaches the very last stage of communism7. As most communist countries often claims that they operation the country for common-wealth, same applies to North Korea in which everyone contributes to the common-good of the country according to the citizens skills and abilities8.

The communist Party in North Korea is called the Korean Workers Party, under the communist polices, other parties are permitted but none of then would have real political significance. Basic element in North Koreas Political Culture is democratic centralism, it is an idea in which everyone should have a chance to bring out their own views and preferences, as the government notice its citizens point of view, the government would attempt to carry out what the leader or dictator would believe is the right solution to the problems.

The party in North Korea also believes that it is responsible for educating its citizens in Party policies through the use of propaganda and personal contact in which the leaders and officials would actually go and visit the people to provide guidance9. Also, in North Korea, it is very important that everyone is loyal and obedient to the leader and the country; the non-significant political parties would be an example of superiority of the Korean Workers Party Since North Korea and South Korea both adopted a different type of government, their political process of also difference.

In South Korea, demands that the people create on their government are growing at a fast rate and therefore the government must response at the same rate in order to allow the state to function efficiently10. Ever since the liberation in 1945 and the Korean War, the first twenty years for South Korea was all about providing security and a social-economy. During that time from the late 1940s to 1960s, the demand for Food, clothing, shelter, education for the children, economic opportunity, and equitable distribution of wealth were the governments mean concern.

It was not until the late 1980s in which the personal liberty and civil rights were taught in schools or from other media sources11. As South Korea started to stable its political and economic situations, rapid economical development started to increase the standard of living for many of its citizens, population that are below poverty line and its wealth distribution curve are also similar in ways of the United States. In order to improve its living standards, pension plans, health insurance programs and other social benefits were constantly expanding12.

In terms of North Koreas political process, the demands of its people from the regime are often centered upon the improvements of North Koreas living standards and the quality of life. The people of North Korea need not to pay tax but instead, a user utility fee is charged in a way that it levels as the state revenue increases therefore, indirectly collecting money from its citizens13. North Korea put a lot of emphasis in telling what the citizens should do instead of listening to what its people want.

The decision-making system in North Korea is basically centralized around the party leader and his fifteen member executive committee of the Korean Workers Party14. Media in North Korea is also a very effective way in encouraging regime policies to the citizens since newspapers, radio, television, magazines and movies are all operated by the state instead of private companies15. One of the biggest problem is North Korea is its Economic Crisis. Due to the fact that North Korea is focusing heavily on military productions, North Koreas national products growth rate was zero percent during the year of 199416.

With the heavily subsidized state-owned companies, private sector is almost impossible to build up in North Korea. Not only that, through an inefficient labour market system and the majority of state enterprises, citizens lacked the incentive to work, causing an inefficient use of resources and eventually leading North Korea into economic crisis such as food shortage and starvation problems within the state. On the other hand, South Korea had adopted itself to the free market system, allowing it to rapidly grow economically.

Under the changes of constant urbanizing and industrializing the state, new middle classes are increasing, as professionals within healthcare, engineering, and others fields started to become more popular during the 1980s17. Although South Korea experienced a large amount of economic growth ever since the end of the Korean War, there is yet an uneven distribution of income and living standards between rural areas and those of the urban cities, since most of South Koreas economic activities are mostly based around highly industrialized and urbanized areas.

As almost 60 years had passed since the Korean War, achievements and results from South Korea and North Korea remained a huge gap from each other economically. As South Korea managed to be claimed as the economic miracle on the Han-gang River, it was able to increase its GNP (Gross National Product) from US $2. 3 billion during 1962, to $457. 7 billion at the end of 1995, whereas the North Korean ended up with $0 Gross National Product during the year of 199418.

After analyzing South Korea and North Koreas political structure and economical standards, Living standards, and the rights of their people, there is a large reason for people to believe that South Koreas form of government is more favourable then that of North Korea. Although North Korea promotes an equal distribution of wealth to everyone of its people, mismanagement of resources and inefficient use of human labour is one of the biggest problems that caused North Korea to sink into its economic crisis.

It seemed that North Korea placed too much emphasis into military and offensive capability to the point that all resource are allocated towards the state instead of the people who lives within the state itself. North Koreas important often exceeded its export while most of the imports are composed of products such as machinery, crude oil, arms, and lots of other military related products. The concept of self-sufficiency was able to fulfill a sense of security that is demanded by North Korean citizens, yet not capable of providing the very basic needs for its people such as food is rather unacceptable.

For South Korea on the other hand, economic growth is strongly encouraged by the free market system. By allowing privately owned enterprises to drive the economy, it brought South Korea a dramatic change that improved and way surpassed North Korea in terms of living standards, Gross National Product, and many other factors. South Korea also provided more rights and privileges to its citizens and attempted to respond to the rapid demand coming from the state while human rights and freedom are some of the main concern in which our society are focusing on during the twenty-first century.

North Koreas political system followed that of the former Soviet Union, while the idea of communism is being applied to the state, the results are not much different from the USSR itself. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the theory of Democracy was widely promoted and still is popular among the society. Trading and other economic activities are rather hard when it comes to North Korea since state-owned enterprises are heavily subsidized. It is almost impossible to have foreign investments going into the state and therefore, it lacked a lot of capital to increase its economic worth compare to that of South Korea.

As a conclusion, it is obvious that by adopting the western way of democracy and free market system, it would allow a country to operate in a more efficient manner due to many factors. By just looking at some historical examples, German and Japan after the World War II was rebuilt into a democracy country with the help of the US and since then, both countries been expanding economically at a fast rate just as the South Koreans did. States controlled under a communist party on the other hand such as Cuba, the Soviet Union, and North Korea, had always been sinking into an economic crisis due the nature of the governments inefficiency.

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