Historical Characteristics of Korea's Social Democracy

Historical Characteristics of Korea's Social Democracy


  • Journal title: International Journal of Korean History
  • ISSN: 1598-2041 (print) 2508-5921 (online)
  • Publisher: Korea University, Center for Korean History
  • Country of publisher: korea, republic of
  • Date added to EuroPub: 2018/May/12

Subject and more

  • LCC Subject Category: History
  • Publisher's keywords: Historical Characteristics, Korea's Social Democracy
  • Language of fulltext: english
  • Full-text formats available: PDF


    Kyung-chae Roh



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Socialism is an ideology that was formed and organized in the process of the political movement of modern western Europe. For its part, social democracy, founded in the late 19th century, carried the same meaning as socialism in that it criticized the structural discrepancy within capitalism. In the aftermath of the Bolshevik revolution and the establishment of the Comintern, the Communist International, in 1919, social democracy began to be diverged from Marxism‐Leninism, or communism. As a result of its individual ideological origin and hue within each country, there are many interpretations of social democracy. However, there are a few essential values that are consistently pursued: democracy and socialism as well as political freedom and socio‐economic equality. Seen in this light, social democracy can be found not only in the West as there exist different versions in various countries throughout the globe. While Korea began to participate in exchanges with countries in which social democracy was practiced since 1917, the relationship did not take root. Therefore, it is easy to see that Korea’s variety of social democracy1 is more of a philosophy and ideology created during the process of our own historical development, rather than something that was formed as a result of any relationship with the West. Moreover, Korea’s social democracy emerged as a movement based on practicality rather than as a result of any theoretical debate or strife. And thus, Korea’s social democracy is a practical ideology boasting Korean characteristics, which nevertheless in many ways approaches the variety of social democracy found in the West.

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