Institutionalization of Corruption in South Korea

Olli Hellmann speaks on corruption in South KoreaThe East-West Cen­ter Research Pro­gram brown-bag pre­sen­ta­tion on Wednes­day, June 1, 2016, will fea­ture pol­i­tics spe­cial­ist Olli Hell­mann speak­ing on “The Insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of Cor­rup­tion in South Korea.” Hell­mann is a lec­tur­er in pol­i­tics at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Sus­sex in the Unit­ed King­dom and is cur­rent­ly a POSCO vis­it­ing fel­low at the East-West Cen­ter. His pre­sen­ta­tion will take place from 12 noon to 1:00 p.m. in Burns Hall room 3012.

Accord­ing to Hell­mann, South Korea appears to be strug­gling more than oth­er indus­tri­al­ized democ­ra­cies to com­bat cor­rupt prac­tices by pub­lic office hold­ers. His pre­sen­ta­tion will argue that con­ven­tion­al anti-cor­rup­tion approach­es have failed to uproot cor­rup­tion in South Korea, as par­tic­u­lar­is­tic exchanges are insti­tu­tion­al­ized in infor­mal net­works that con­nect polit­i­cal elites to pri­vate busi­ness. By gen­er­at­ing social cap­i­tal and har­bor­ing cor­rup­tion-spe­cif­ic know-how, these net­works can evade mon­i­tor­ing and resist pun­ish­ment. Through a com­par­i­son with oth­er cap­i­tal­ist coun­tries in East Asia, he will trace the insti­tu­tion­al­iza­tion of cor­rup­tion back to the “crit­i­cal junc­ture” at which orga­ni­za­tions for mass mobi­liza­tion were first estab­lished in the mid-twen­ti­eth century. 

Olli Hellmann’s research on par­ty orga­ni­za­tion and par­ty sys­tems in East Asia has been pub­lished in a mono­graph titled Polit­i­cal Par­ties and Elec­toral Strat­e­gy: The Devel­op­ment of Par­ty Orga­ni­za­tion in East Asia (Pal­grave Macmil­lan) and in a num­ber of peer-reviewed jour­nals, such as Par­ty Pol­i­tics and the Jour­nal of East Asian Stud­ies. More recent­ly, his research has shift­ed toward issues of state build­ing and cor­rup­tion. Fund­ing for this new research has come from the UK’s Eco­nom­ic and Social Research Coun­cil (ESRC) and the British Academy/​DFID Anti-Cor­rup­tion Evi­dence (ACE) Partnership.

For fur­ther infor­ma­tion, con­tact the East-West Cen­ter Research Program.