The assassination of President Park Chunghee on October 26, 1979, brought the Fourth Republic to an end, and a transition government, led by President Choi Gyu-ha, came into being and lasted for several months. The real power in the Fifth Republic was centered in the new military elite that had arrested and imprisoned the Army Chief of Staff and other members of the old military leadership. The new military elite brutally repressed the demand for democratization, the severity of which was evidenced by the massacre of participants in the uprising at Gwangju in May 1980. In August 1980, Choi relinquished his nominal presidency, letting Chun Doohwan rise to power based on a vote by the Council of the Unification-Leading People. The Chun administration then organized a referendum around a draft constitutional amendment stipulating a single, seven-year term for the President and an indirect presidential election system. The amendment passed in a referendum held on October 22, 1980, and was promulgated as the Constitution of the Fifth Republic on October 27 that same year. The Electoral College elected Chun, running as the candidate of the Democratic Justice Party, on February 25, 1981, after which a new National Assembly was gathered (Oh, 2003).
(2) Purposes of Reforms
The administrative reforms attempted in the Fifth Republic reflected not a social consensus, but the political interests and expediency of the elite that had come to power via illegal and undemocratic routes and sought to secure legitimacy internally and externally through a series of reformatory measures. In addressing the gap of political legitimacy in their midst, the leaders of the new Republic picked the consolidation of democracy, the completion of a welfare society, the realization of a just society, the innovation of education, and the advancement of culture as the five major pillars of their policymaking. The Chun administration engaged in administration system reform in hopes of procuring acceptance of its authority and policy goals by bureaucrats and the people at large. Accordingly, the government organization was reformed to secure greater degrees of legitimacy, while new organizations were created to help realize social welfare. Measures were launched to fight corruption, and the size of the bureaucratic apparatus was optimized to keep the administrative cost minimal. New agencies and organizations were also launched to innovate education and foster cultural progress (Kim, 1991).
In reality, however, the regulatory reforms of the Fifth Republic mostly focused on achieving administrative and economic efficiency by deregulating the private sector. Although democratic values were promoted as the standards or criteria for deciding and implementing reforms, efficiency trumped democracy in most cases, except for a few (e.g., the introduction of the legislative preview system, and the system for registering complaints on land reform projects (Kim, 1999)). Focused overwhelmingly on the goal of economic growth through regulatory reforms and deregulation, however, the Chun administration neglected the crucial roles and functions of proper regulations, and incurred criticisms for enlarging social inequality (Choi, 1992: 810, quoted in Kim, 1999).
(3) Main Actors and Means
The central administration underwent far-reaching transformation when the presidential system became constitutionalized and gained an even stronger hold as the Fifth Republic began. New bodies were created, including the Social Purification Committee, the Political Affairs Advisory Board, and the Peaceful Unification Advisory Board, while the Labor Administration was expanded into the Ministry of Labor. Ministers previously without portfolios were put in charge of political affairs, and now reported to the Prime Minister instead of the President. The Ministry of Sports also newly came into being. Moreover, the Administrative Reform of October 15 led to the abolition of various governmental units, including the Office of Planning and Coordination, and the Administrative Reform Committee, both of which reported to the Prime Minister.
As questions of the legitimacy of the Chun Doohwan presidency continued to arise, the new administration launched an ambitious reform drive in 1981, prioritizing economic development, stability, and social purification as key goals. First, the new government created the External Relations Committee in order to ensure continued economic growth and development, and increase Korea’s economic cooperation with foreign actors. Second, the government launched the Social Purification Committee to fight the organized crime, corruption, and other illegal activities on the rise in that era. Third, the new administration actively fostered professional sports, reorganizing and expanding the public bodies handling major sporting events. The Chun administration ended up hosting the Asian Games of 1986 and the Olympics of 1988 as a result (Lee, 2001). The reform drive that began on December 31, 1981, however, still emphasized minimizing and reorganizing the administration (Park, 2004).
Korea Institute of Public Administration. 2008. Korean Public Administration, 1948-2008, Edited by Korea Institute of Public Administration. Pajubookcity: Bobmunsa.