[OPE] "It cannot be explained through traditional political science theories"

From: Jurriaan Bendien (adsl675281@tiscali.nl)
Date: Wed Jun 11 2008 - 10:49:12 EDT

Korean beef uproar reflects digital age politics

(...) Despite accusations by the government and the conservative press that this nationwide protest has somehow been orchestrated by leftist groups and liberal politicians, observers on the ground are taken aback by the very spontaneous nature of these rallies. With disparate groups from all strata of society mingling together these mass vigils are markedly different from the democracy protests of the 1980s, or the huge labor upheavals Korea witnesses occasionally. Those demonstrations were tightly regimented with a very hierarchical structure. Protesters would march with the precision of a well-honed military unit. 

Candlelight vigils are nothing new in and of themselves, if one remembers the 2002 protests over the deaths of two schoolgirls at the hands of the U.S. military. But something different is afoot here. The dramatic reversal of public sentiment and vociferous outcry against President Lee has been breathtakingly swift. From "savior" of the Korean economy, to the most unpopular president after just 100 days' tenure, a phenomenon has taken place that cannot be explained through traditional political science theories. 

The explanation may lie in the "digital age" and "ubiquitous society" that Korea is often described as being enveloped in. The social, economic and political transformations that have taken place through IT advances have upended traditional power structures, while playing a revolutionary role in mobilizing mass public sentiment. The result: old-school politicians, government officials and offline media outlets are powerless in this new reality. And ordinary citizens, for better or worse, are forcing the authorities to listen. http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/

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