South Korea is one of the most successful cases of democratization and economic growth in the world. It shares one troubling problem with many other countries in recent years: the visible increase of extreme polarization in the language and emotions of political topics. However, Korea has experienced this problem much earlier. The history created weak parties that use deeply effective but harmful stories. This combination creates a downwards spiral where the performance of moral superiority becomes the sharpest weapon. The author points out that we need a standard for viewing this growing problem and argues that the traits of polarization in language are not well understood. Using partisan newspaper text data from 1990 to 2014 and quantitative text analysis, this book collects the most typical emotions and topics used by parties and partisans, analyzing why they exist. In the age of digital data and possibly restricted mobility, this book is a proposal for what the author calls “Computational Area Studies” and “Distant Fieldwork.”
Oul Han is a postdoctoral researcher and holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from the Freie Universität Berlin.
List of Figures
List of Tables
Preface: First-Hand Comparative Experiences as a German Korean
1. The Puzzle of Weak Yet Extreme Ideology
2. Background Theory of Extremely Polarized Topics
4. Framing Democracy
5. Framing Unification
6. Framing Welfare
About the Author
Polarized Politics in South Korea: Political Culture and Democracy in Partisan Newspapers greatly enriches our understanding of contemporary Korean politics. Advancing the method of ‘quantitative text analysis,’ the author shows how political ideas polarize the political discourse in modern Korea. The study, which makes use of big data, is original in methodological, empirical, and theoretical respects and will surely become a milestone for readers who are interested in Korean politics.
This work persuasively demonstrates, using advanced methods of statistical text analysis, that the language of political parties and politicians—their topics, symbols, frames and rhetoric—have as much importance as formal election pledges or policy programs in contemporary South Korean politics. Not only researchers of Korean politics, but also readers interested in political discourse will see an example of original and interesting attempts in this book.