Korea's modernization in light of modernization theory
Nepotism appeared in power-related corruption and social relationship
This research points out the limitation of “Early Modernization Theory” by studying Korea’s “Nepotism”, an East-Asia’s traditional community culture based on school tie, regional tie and blood tie. This research looks into how nepotism has continued even after modernization, examining the limitation of early modernization theory which argues that economic development leads to overall change of the society such as social value, culture and level of people’s awareness. Korea has achieved rapid economic growth in half a century, experiencing huge societal transformation. However, nepotism is still clearly found in Korean social relationships and power-related corruptions. Participation rate for nepotism network such as alumni gathering of school or native places is the highest, recording around 31% in two researches conducted in 2006 and 2015. In addition, nepotism connection is abused in business world, which is shown in power-related corruption examples such as Nara Banking Corporation’s illegal lobby incident and Presidential Election bribery incident in 2002. Korea’s nepotism has been solidified during the historical hardship periods such as Japanese colonization, Korean War, and government-led rapid economic development, as public institutions have not been trustworthy. It is supported by the fact that Korean social capital is “narrow-and-thick”, centered on nepotism relationships, while the confidence in major social organizations is at a low level. This research concludes that early modernization theory which assumes exclusive relationships between “traditionality” and “modernity” and suggests economic and technological development driven by industrialization leads to modernization of overall society does not fully explain Korea’s modernization.
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