Korea’s Beef Crisis: the Internet and Democracy
|Publication:||Australian Journal of International Affairs, 63 (4), December, pp. 505-528.|
On 19 December 2007, President Lee was elected the seventeenth president of the Republic of Korea with the widest margin in Korea's presidential election history. Despite this enormous victory, it took little more than 100 days for Lee's early record-high popularity to plummet to the lowest rating of all Korean presidents with so few days in office. This article claims that the combination of Lee's early misguided policies and staffing decisions, along with a highly 'wired' young generation, has quickly produced anti-Lee discourse, which, in turn, has escalated into massive, continuing street protests by a large cross section of the population. Observing such an unprecedented phenomenon, this article addresses two important questions regarding politics in the information era: How do newly networked information technologies (NNITs) influence the political discourse and contribute to the evolution of a political crisis, and who are the most critical players in the NNITs-induced politics? By applying the concepts underlying Heinrich's law, Situational Crisis Communication Theory, and the theory on four stages of crisis evolution to the first question, and by invoking Giddens' theory of 'life politics' in answering the second, this article examines the grave political consequences that NNITs-galvanised young generations can have on democracy.