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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A tool for delegative governance? : South Korea's National Security Law and delegative democracy Kim, Dongwoo


The paper seeks to clarify the relationship between South Korea’s National Security Law (NSL) and democracy. The NSL is a special law that seeks to address the security threats from North Korea, criticized for limiting fundamental civil and political rights. However, these criticisms have shown limited effectiveness in light of the argument that South Korea has unique security needs that require some compromise. In order to demonstrate more effectively that the NSL is problematic for South Korea’s democracy, I argue that the continued use of the law makes more sense if South Korea is considered to be a “delegative democracy,” a defective subtype characterized by weaknesses in horizontal accountability and violation of civil rights, as opposed to a representative democracy that it purports to be. As such, I demonstrate that the opportunity cost of the continued use of the NSL is much greater than occasional violation of civil rights, and that it facilitates problematic behaviours by the executive that is not compatible within a representative democracy that South Korea is supposed to be. Ultimately, this paper raises the urgency to demand more information and transparency in the use of the NSL in South Korea today.

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