The Institution of Presidential Impeachment in South Korea, 1992-2017
Presidential impeachment is a mechanism used to protect democracy from system-threatening malpractice by an incumbent, which is a phenomenon that is occurring increasingly often in young presidential democracies around the world. This article analyses the institution of presidential impeachment in South Korea by comparing three impeachment efforts during the last thirty years that differed in their processes and outcomes. In 1992, the opposition seriously considered impeaching President Roh Tae-woo; however, eventually, it desisted from initiating a motion. Twelve years later, in 2004, President Roh Moo-hyun was impeached by the legislature but was ultimately reinstated. Another twelve years later, the impeachment trial in 2016 against President Park Geun-hye concluded in 2017 by deposing her from office. Based on a set of variables drawn from the existing literature, this article examines the differences and commonalities of the three cases. Thereby, the purpose of this essay is to describe the process of presidential impeachment in South Korea and to contribute to comparative literature by adding another study of a country to the growing case family.