Overview

Although the Republic of Korea (South Korea) made progress towards democratisation after decades of dictatorship, over the last few years many aspects of civic space have been restricted. In recent years, the government and conservative parties have used legal obstacles and ideological rhetoric to hinder free association and assembly. Despite this, at the end of 2016, widespread protests against a corruption scandal that engulfed President Park Geun-hye, saw over a million South Koreans take to the streets of Seoul in weekly protests. Journalists and civil society groups played a key role in exposing the scandal which led to the eventual impeachment of President Park. The mass mobilisations have been viewed as a watershed moment for improved civic freedoms in South Korea.