South Korea's Developmental Democracy and Migrant Workers Policy

Byoungha Lee, Sungmoon Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This paper investigates how the Korean government, under the double pressure of liberal-democratic consolidation and economic growth, has developed its migrant workers policy in the past 2 decades. Its central claim is that even though the Korean government has revised the laws regarding migrant workers in an increasingly liberal way and driven more progressive migrant workers policies with special focus on socioeconomic rights, it could not live up to Korean democracy's liberal ideal by differently treating migrant workers on the basis of the expected contributions of their skills to Korean economy, thus failing to fully respect individual migrant workers' rights. The paper attempts to analyze the practical aporia with which Korean democracy struggles under the aforementioned double pressure from the perspective of "developmental democracy" in which liberal democracy and national economic utilitarianism are mutually constraining each other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)428-455
Number of pages28
JournalPacific Focus
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Developmental democracy
  • Individual right
  • Migrant workers
  • National interest


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