Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explains the historical origins of strong bureaucratic power in South Korea and recent changes in which the concentration of bureaucratic power has weakened. In the 1960s and 1970s, economic growth was South Korea’s top priority, and economic policy agencies such as the Economic Planning Board (EPB) led the nation’s overall policy decisions under the protection of the powerful president, Park Chung-hee. As the economy grew, however, various social demands, such as welfare, labour rights, and environmental protection, were expressed by the public, and many institutions that could reflect these demands grew within the bureaucracy in the 1980s and 1990s. As a consequence, the influence of the EPB was relatively reduced. Since the 2000s, democratization has matured and the ability of the National Assembly to make policy decisions and keep the administration in check has been strengthened. As a result, the bureaucrats’ influence on policy further diminished.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of South Korean Politics
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780192894045
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

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© Oxford University Press 2023. All rights reserved.


  • bureaucratic agency
  • democratization
  • executive branch
  • presidential power
  • South Korea


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