Sungmoon Kim

Confucian Democracy in East Asia: Theory and Practice (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

This book will explore a mode of democracy that is culturally relevant and socially practicable in South Korea's given cultural (Confucian) and political (democratic) context from the perspective of ordinary Korean citizens. After theoretically investigating some inherent tensions in the general theory of liberal democracy, to which South Korea is constitutionally committed—e.g. between universalism and particularism, between personhood and citizenship, and between personhood and selfhood—and the cultural unfamiliarity of ordinary Koreans with the basic assumptions of liberal democracy, along with their practical implications for daily life, this book aims to demonstrate how ordinary Koreans have, nevertheless, created a uniquely Korean-style democracy by appealing to their own Confucian culture and Confucian-based social mores. The central arguments of the book are that liberal democracy is practically possible in Korea's post-Confucian context and that Korean liberal democracy is not necessarily predicated on the assumptions of liberal individualism. The book will have two parts: the first focused on the political theoretical construction of the practicable mode of Confucian democracy and the second evaluating Korean democracy in light of the proposed practical theory.