New Technology, Old Habits: The Decline of the Internet as a Democratic Tool in South Korea

New Technology, Old Habits: The Decline of the Internet as a Democratic Tool in South Korea

Inkyu Kang (Penn State University, State College, PA, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/ijicthd.2014040103
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Abstract

This paper investigates how the Internet has lost its power as a tool for political participation in South Korea, one of the world's most wired countries. Its 2002 presidential election was praised as one of the most spectacular examples of social change caused by the Internet. The following election in 2007, however, marked the total inability of the Internet to mobilize voters. How did the Internet, which is often claimed to have a democratizing potential, lose its power so quickly? By comparing the two elections, this paper shows why the effects of the Internet cannot be generalized. Although many scholars believe that cyberspace is anonymous and difficult to regulate, the Korean Internet is drastically different. This paper explores how the Internet evolves into many “internets” under the influence of a country's unique sociocultural factors.
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Stronger Internet, Weaker Participation

Studies have consistently shown a link between Internet use and political engagement. For example, Tolbert and McNeal (2003), Stanley and Weare (2004), Kenski and Stroud (2006) confirmed the relationship between Internet access and political participation. More recently, Bakker and de Vreese (2011) and Jensen (2013) proved that Internet use is positively related with various forms of political participation. Czernich (2012) even showed the correlation between Internet connection speed and voter participation.

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