Illuminating the East Again: The Rapid Modernization of South Korean Government

Published date01 July 2014
Date01 July 2014
Book Reviews 529
Jos C. N. Raadschelders is professor
of public administration in the John Glenn
School of Public Affairs of The Ohio State
University, and in the Institute of Public
Administration, University of Leiden,
Netherlands. His research interests include
the nature of the study of government,
comparative government, and civil service
systems. He is coauthor of the third edition
of Mastering Public Administration
(Sage/CQ Press, 2014) and author of Public
Administration: The Interdisciplinary
Study of Government (Oxford University
Press, 2013). From 2006 to 2011, he
served as managing editor of Public
Administration Review.
Book Reviews
Public Administration Review,
Vol. 74, Iss. 4, pp. 529–532. © 2014 by
The American Society for Public Administration.
DOI: 10.1111/puar.12247.
is book review is organized around these three roles
that I attribute to Professor Jung.
e scholar Jung has worked for more than 30 years in
the Graduate School of Public Administration at Seoul
National University.  e subject matter of this book
is representative of his core research interests: govern-
ment, governance, government–society relations, and
the study of public administration.  ese topics come
together nicely in this book on the rapid moderniza-
tion of the South Korean state and its government.
e book is divided into four parts. Part I provides an
overview of the changes in the state and administrative
system since the late 1940s and discusses the emer-
gence of the study of public administration against that
background. Part II addresses how the national state
administration became institutionalized, with chap-
ters on the presidency and central agencies, bureauc-
racy, and intergovernmental relations.  e theme of
development policies binds together four chapters on
the political economy of development, distributive
justice and redistributive policy, government–industry
relations and regulatory policy, and overcoming the
1997 f‌i nancial crisis.  e book concludes with a section
that has a chapter on good governance and a chapter
on public trust in government. It is a timely book, as
South Korea seems to be at the threshold of a new era,
as I will suggest at the end of this review.
Rather than brief‌l y describing the content of each
chapter, I will highlight some issues that struck me while
reading. Before doing so, it must be said that this book
is very well written (and beautifully published, including
a page divider/page marker). It is not just appropriate
for an audience of public administration scholars and
students but also very useful for diplomats and business-
men, and just plain interesting for any engaged citizen.
e substance of each chapter is clearly embedded in
the relevant theoretical literature, but there are no long
expositions about theoretical lenses, and the language is
straightforward, no jargon. It is also very well balanced:
praise and criticism are given where these are due. In
Yong-duck Jung, e Korean State, Public
Administration, and Development: Past, Present,
and Future Challenges (Seoul, South Korea: Seoul
National University Press, 2014). 366 pp. $80.00
(cloth), ISBN: 9788952115676.
is is a wonderful yet challenging book to review. Its
is wonderful because it provides a native’s evaluation of
the development of the state and government system
of the Republic of Korea (ROK) since 1948. It is an
insider’s view for foreigners, but it is written with the
almost uncanny perception of an outsider. It is chal-
lenging because it deserves a level of understanding of,
and sensitivity to, the historical and contemporary chal-
lenges facing Korea that a non-Korean reviewer of this
book may not have. Having said that, let me start with
a 1929 poem by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore:
In the golden age of Asia
Korea was one of its lamp bearers.
And that lamp is waiting
To be lighted once again
For the illumination of the East.
e book that Yong-duck Jung has written is illu-
minating, and the author is well positioned to have
written a book like this. His life parallels the time
that South Korea has been an independent country
(since 1948). Born in early 1949, his earliest memo-
ries go back to the Korean War. He remembers the
1960 student uprising and—getting older, study-
ing in the United States (he received his PhD from
the University of Southern California in 1981)—he
became more and more conscious of the momentous
changes his country was going through.  us, this
book is the product of decades of observation and
based on earlier article-length publications. When
writing, the author seems to have worked from three
roles: the scholar who recounts and explains what
happened, the administrator who considers what
can be done to improve the state and administrative
system, and the Korean citizen who looks for the
potential where South Korea might come alight again.
Illuminating the East Again:  e Rapid Modernization
of South Korean Government
Sonia M. Ospina and Rogan Kersh, Editors
Jos C. N. Raadschelders
The Ohio State University
University of Leiden, the Netherlands

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