Since the 1980s, Civil Society in Korea has been involved in politics and democracy transition. The 1997 economic crisis accelerated the democratic transformation as the authoritarian developmental state which was put under scrutiny. Many civil society organizations (CSOs) in South Korea have empowered the people to become more assertive in the political arena. Traditionally, non-governmental organizations were limited to organize political protests against the authoritarian regimes and to provide social services for disadvantaged groups of people. After becoming more institutionalized, the CSOs and Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs) have expanded their roles to include various policy areas. They have promoted political participation, voluntary social service, and participatory democracy in the country.
CSOs have played a significant role in the general elections to call for transparency society, conducting nation-wide campaigns against disqualified parliamentarians, advocating rights of the formerly marginalized groups.
Among the leading civil society organizations addressing governance, accountability, transparency or anti-corruption measures are Transparency International Korea (TI Korea), the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, the Citizens’ Coalition for Better Government and the Citizens’ Association against Corruption.
Under the Covid-19 pandemic, the civil society representatives also participated, along with the South Korea government in order to manage properly the 21st National Assembly election in the Republic of Korea without postponing the general elections. Therefore, the general elections in South Korea amid the COVID-19 has been under the spotlight and also recorded the highest voter turnout in 28 years of 66.2 percent, following the 71.9 percent turnout in tis 1992 elections.