A Comparative Study of Governance in State Management: Focusing on the Roh Moo-hyun Government and the Lee Myung-bak Government*

  • cc icon
  • ABSTRACT

    This study aims to explore development discourses of the Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak governments and evaluate their governance in achieving their respective visions of development. The two governments advocate sustainable development and green growth, respectively, as their national development paradigms, and strategies, laws, and organizations were developed to realize their goals. This research analysis reveals that the Roh administration perceived and reflected the concept and the importance of governance into its own policy framework while the Lee administration has not. The Roh administration perceived civil society as the subject of governance and policy process whereas the Lee administration perceives it as the object. In conclusion, the Roh administration can summarily be described as non-authoritarian with civil societycentered governance that pursues sustainable development, while the Lee administration is authoritarian with token state-centered governance that pursues green growth. This difference results from the difference between the nature of development discourse, principles of government management, perception of governance, leadership style and values, and the support basis of each government.


  • KEYWORD

    Governance , Development Discourse , Sustainable Development , Green Growth , Participation , Communication

  • Introduction

    On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of national independence in August 2009, President Lee made an official announcement to change the previous paradigm of sustainable development pursued by the Roh Moohyun government to the “new national development paradigm” of “low carbon, green growth.” Following this, the Presidential Committee on Green Growth (PCGG) was established as the governing agency of this new development paradigm, while the previous governing body, the National Commission on Sustainable Development (NCSD), was downsized to a ministerial committee under the Ministry of Environment.

    The word “governance” was once popular in South Korean society, but this term is now seldom used since the advent of the Lee administration despite the fact that PCGG has been established to pursue governance. According to Ra (2009), studies on governance began in the late 1990s and have increased since 2000 in terms of quantity and quality. This phenomenon reflects the transition in different government philosophies for management of state affairs.

    At this moment, some questions may be raised: What is governance? Is governance a crucial component of democratic society? If governance is still valuable, how is governance operationalized in current government? This study aims to compare the patterns of governance of the previous Roh government and current Lee government1 to reveal differences in the degree of governance between the two governments. If there are differences, what caused them? To promote governance properly, what needs to be done? These are the core questions of this study.

    Each government pursues its own philosophy and vision in managing state affairs. In order to realize them, each government establishes strategies, laws, and organizations, allocates budgets, and implements projects. Therefore, this study explores and evaluates the governance systems and performances of the Roh and Lee governments in terms of national strategies, relevant laws, organizations, and projects because these four elements are crucial in realizing their governing philosophy.2

    To evaluate and compare governance within the two governments, this study selected the following acts, organizations, and projects for analysis: National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD), Framework Act on Sustainable Development (FASD), Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development (PCSD), and the Gulpocheon-Gyeongin Canal Project during the Roh government, and National Strategy for Green Growth (NSGG), Framework Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth (FALCGG), Presidential Committee on Green Growth (PCGG), and the Four Major Rivers Project during the Lee government.3

    For the purpose of this study, the theoretical background of each government’s development paradigm (such as SD vs. GG) is explored, the concept and types of governance are reviewed, and evaluation indicators of governance are developed in section two below. Section three examines contents, decision-making processes, and implementation outcomes of the aforementioned development paradigms, relevant laws, organizations, and projects of each government from the perspective of governance. Then, in section four, the two governments are compared, and finally, section five summarizes the findings of this study, examines its theoretical and practical implications, and recommends ways in which to improve governance in South Korea.

    1The official name of the Roh government is “Participator Government,” but the authors chose not to use this official name in hopes of preventing prejudice implied by the name.   2Budgets are not examined in this study because there is uncertainty in setting a boundary.   3The scale and dimension of two representative projects of both governments are different, but nevertheless, these two projects are selected for research because they clearly show each government’s perspective on governance.

    Theoretical Background

      >  Development Paradigms: Sustainable Development (SD) vs. Green Growth (GG)

    1) Sustainable development (SD)

    Since Our Common Future, a report by the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED), was published in 1987, the concept of sustainable development (SD) has spread globally despite controversy. According to the most popular definition of WCED, SD is “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition is not specific and is sometimes used as a rhetoric, but this aspect becomes its strong point. Its ambiguity makes interpretation of the concept flexible and allows it to derive social consensus from diverse perspectives (Yun 2009a). In the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2002, the concept of SD was specified more by elaborating on the triple bottom line (TBL)—environmental protection, economic growth, and social equity—as main components of SD.

    In contrast to the conventional growth-only paradigm and despite the different understanding of sustainability, the concept of SD takes into consideration the limited carrying capacity of nature based on the discourse on “limited growth.” Also, the importance of equitable distribution of wealth of the environment is acknowledged by embracing social equity as a crucial component of SD, which means that sustainability is constructed only when society is based on social consensus. What is more important is the potential of SD in practice (Yun 2009a). In order to form a consensus toward sustainability, it is necessary to implement democratic structure and process in which members of society can participate and engage in debate. In this light, SD fits the concept of governance (Jeong 2002).

    The paradigm of SD has been pursued as the baseline for future direction of social development for a dominant development paradigm in the international community, and increasing attention has been given to improving its practicability. Beyond the boundary of environmental activists, the concept of SD is shared by politicians, governmental officials, and even those involved in the business sector. South Korea has also paid attention to SD since the Kim Dae-jung government, and the South Korean government has pursued it as a dominant development paradigm prior to the announcement of GG. PCSD was launched in 2000 under the Kim government as the core of SD, and FASD was promulgated in 2007 under the Roh government. This Framework Act led to the transition from PCSD to NCSD in 2008, right before the announcement of LCGG.

    2) Green growth (GG)

    Green growth (GG) was proposed by President Lee in 2008 as a new national development paradigm for South Korea. Originally, however, the concept of GG was presented as a win-win strategy of economic growth without environmental damage (Yun 2009a) at the 5th Ministerial Conference on Environment and Development in Asia and the Pacific, which was hosted by the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) in Seoul in March, 2005.4 Because the concept of SD was too abstract for least developed countries to implement, GG was suggested as an alternative to the growth-only paradigm for those countries whose main national goal is poverty eradication. The main ideas of GG are summarized by the Ministry of Knowledge and Economy as shown below in table 1.

    The pivotal idea of GG is that the economy and the environment can create a win-win relationship in which both sectors produce synergy of a virtuous cycle rather than a vicious cycle found in the conventional growthonly approach. Economic growth accomplished via minimization of resource use and pollution through green technologies and green industries becomes the basis for environmental protection. In this regard, GG seems to be similar to ecological modernization. The idea of ecological modernization requires a different form of modernization that does not involve environmental destruction in pursuing growth of a different kind. In spite of the relative ignorance of social equity inherent in SD, ecological modernization is concerned with citizen participation in its decision-making process and social consensus on policy formation (Yun 2009a). This aspect fits in with the nature of governance, which will be described in more detail in the next section. However, the paradigm of GG needs to be reviewed in terms of the types of governance it aims to implement because social equity is not included as its basic component.

      >  Governance

    1) Concept and types of governance

    Since the 1990s, the concept of “governance” has become a prominent research topic in various academic disciplines, and it has become an important conversation topic in discourses on government and civil organization. The concept of “governance” is used to analyze the characteristics and adequacy of policy-making processes of a government. As Pierre and Peter (2000) point out, the era of governance in which the government controls and manages society as the core power is shifting toward an era of governance in which businesses and civil society participate in the processes of decision-making and implementation of policies along with the government, as well as sharing responsibilities with the government. This change was driven by an awareness of and reflection on the limits to state-centered hierarchical decision-making, that is to say, the failure of government (Song 2004; Ra 2009).

    Governance originally meant the power operated by the state to manage state affairs, but now it has come to mean a network of state management outside the authority of the state (Jessop 2000; Kim 2000). Therefore, governance is understood not only as a horizontal network system of the government, independent market and civil society, and a partnership of autonomy and responsibility between public and private spheres, but also as a means of conflict resolution and social integration. Active participation of citizens enhances credibility and legitimacy of government decisions and their effectiveness. From the perspective of governance, citizens are not simply objects but main subjects of government administration. Regardless of its type, a government that only initiates exclusive and centralized decisionmaking cannot be legitimized under the concept of governance, because this type of government can only weaken the tolerance of its citizens and, consequently, result in social conflict and friction. Thus, citizen participation is a substantial component of governance. Equal rights, sufficient information, learning, and discussions through the processes of reflection and deliberation based on mutual trust and cooperation are needed to realize optimal good governance. Governance also reaches its limit and fails, however, when there is ambiguity and uncertainty in the interests and identities of participants. Nevertheless, this is not a theoretical problem but a practical one, and governance is the proper venue to discuss sustainability because sustainability requires social consensus.

    There are diverse perspectives on governance. Governance types can be classified into state-centered, market-centered, and civil society-centered governance, depending on who the main agent is (Kim 2002a; Rhyu 2010).5 State-centered governance is formed by the managerial perspective in which the state is at the center playing a leading role in pursuing collective interests. Nevertheless, participation of the market and civil society is also crucial in this form of governance which is different from the conventional era of government, because participant support for policies enhances legitimacy and effectiveness. Market-centered governance is based on market principles, which means the market is regarded as the most efficient mechanism for decision-making as well as for resource allocation. Civil society-centered governance places more weight on citizen participation in decision-making and implementation processes. Governance here is necessary to complement the existing representative system which is seen as being incompetent in problem-solving by institutionalizing participation of individual citizens or NGOs based on a partnership between the public sphere and the private sphere and not a hierarchical relation in which the government plays a leading role.

    Overall, from the perspective of governance, citizens are not simply the object of government administration but the main subject of state administration, regardless of governance type. If governance is understood as an integrated system in which individuals, organizations, and the private and public sectors work together to realize common public interests and values, citizen participation becomes a very important component. A government that only initiates exclusive and centralized decision-making cannot become legitimized under the concept of governance. Rather, it can weaken citizens’ acceptance and, consequently, cause social conflict and friction. Thus, citizen participation is a significant component of governance.

    2) Evaluation indicators of governance

    How can the level or degree of governance be evaluated? There have been a number of studies concerned with comparing the level and degree of governance among different countries. Evaluation indicators of governance at the national level have been developed by the World Bank, OECD, UNDP, the Assess Initiative, and other international organizations. For local-level governance, TUGI, UN Habitat, LASALA LE 21, and the Ministry of Environment of Korea have developed evaluation indicators. These studies utilize different evaluation indicators as summarized in table 2.

    In this study, frequently adopted and representative indicators from aforementioned studies have been applied, and citizen and stakeholder participation, equity, credibility, reflection, and responsibility are selected as indicators and sub-indicators of governance (see table 3). Among those indicators, participation is most frequently mentioned, meaning that it is a fundamental element of governance. Thus, this study explores governance within the context of policy decision-making, determined policies, and implementation processes mainly in terms of citizen participation. Other indicators will also be examined for the Roh and the Lee governments, followed by identifying and comparing the characteristics of governance of each government.

    4Before this event, the term “Green Growth” was addressed in the Economist and the Davos Forum in early 2000 (Ministry of Governmental Legislation 2010; Yun 2009a).   5In a similar context, governance types are classified based on the role of the government (governance by the government, governance with the government, governance without the government) and by scope and level (global, regional, national, and local governance).

    Review and Evaluation

      >  The Roh Government

    1) National strategy for sustainable development (NSSD)

    In June 2005, the Roh government announced a “national vision for SD,” which suggested a balanced development in economy, society, and environment, and co-prosperity of both current and future generations. Accordingly, PCSD started to work together with specialists, businesses, and civil society on establishing National Strategy for Sustainable Development (NSSD), and announced them to the public in the following year of 2006. In fact, the Roh government set up the fundamentals and goals of state management, as can be seen in its official name, the “Participatory Government.”

    NSSD of the Roh government is composed of five dimensions including sustainable management of natural resources, social integration and improvement of citizen’s health, sustainable economic development, ready response to climate change and protection of the global environment, and strengthening of the basis for execution and implementation of plans. Three main components of SD are integrated into this national strategy, the specifics of which include a win-win relationship between environment and economy, and enhancement of social and inter-generational equity.

    Because the Roh government emphasized the fact that SD could be accomplished only through governance based on civil participation, it encouraged participation of non-governmental sectors from the inception of its strategy and coordinated its efforts closely with stakeholders. This approach is based on the administration’s philosophy on state management that pursues governance. According to the Roh government, governance is part of the participatory democratic system and can be established through readjusting relations between government and civil society. This means that the power structure between government and civil society would become more horizontal and that they would begin working together in decisionmaking and project implementation, which is in sharp contrast to the previous hierarchical power structure where the government made all decisions from the top down (Kim 2005).

    2) Framework Act on Sustainable Development (FASD)

    Since the establishment of PCSD in 2000, domestic civil organizations, academia, and local authorities have demanded institutionalization of SD to guarantee its success. Agreeing that change needs to be made, the Roh government set out drafting the Framework Act on Sustainable Development (FASD) with PCSD at the center, and the act finally came into effect in early 2008, the last year of the Roh government.

    This act reflects various discourses on SD and provides essential elements for promoting NSSD. FASD defines sustainability in terms of environmental rights of future generations and describes SD as development in which three essential values such as economy, society, and environment are balanced. Then FASD provides clauses on establishment of national strategies, evaluation of sustainability, composition of the NCSD, and so forth. NCSD was authorized to engage in policy-making and administering of central and local governments from a sustainability perspective.

    It took over five years to complete FASD, and in the meantime, PCSD shared information about FASD with diverse stakeholders and collected their opinions. The bill on FASD was modified during the deliberation process at the National Assembly in order to realize governance. Civil organizations and the business sector opposed the contents of the FASD bill, but they supported the bill after lengthy frank discussions. These processes enhanced credibility and acceptance of FASD and policies based on FASD.

    The content of FASD emphasizes participation and cooperation of all sectors and actors, and the fundamental principles of FASD show how it deals with governance: Participation in and cooperation with the international community are also emphasized. According to FASD, its private sector members are to be nominated by the president from a pool of those who have knowledge and experience concerning SD in civil organizations, academia, and business entities. A chairperson must be nominated by the president from the private sector. Commissioners include ministers of the central government designated by presidential decree and chairs of Local Commissions on Sustainable Development (LCSD). NCSD and LCSD are encouraged to engage in each level of the government under mutual cooperation.

    According to FASD, it is the state’s obligation to encourage people to participate in decision-making processes. And it defines participation in decision-making processes as the duty of citizens. Here, the most important element of governance—the general public’s participation in decision-making processes—is prioritized because it is regarded as key to pursuing SD.

    3) Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development (PCSD)

    The Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development (PCSD) was established in September 2000 by President Kim Dae-jung to fulfill public demand for a consultative body on development projects after President Kim announced the cancellation of the Dong River Dam on World Environmental Day 2000. The Roh government amended the presidential decree on PCSD and re-established the 2nd PCSD in November 2003, which clarified the direction the policy should take—such as simultaneous consideration for SD and conservation was clarified—and allowed LCSD to be established. In December 2003, the presidential decree was again amended to pay more attention to resolving social conflicts.

    Contents of FASD and its continued amendments show that the Roh government regarded PCSD as a central body for governance and guaranteed local governments had substantial authority necessary to have autonomy to fulfill their responsibilities. Concerning the composition of commissioners, more than half of the NCSD members have to be appointed from nongovernmental sectors for more self-regulating management. In the case of the 3rd PCSD which was launched before the enforcement of FASD, 76 members were from the non-governmental sector. In terms of the working sector, 26 members were professors, accounting for the largest membership in the group (34.2%)—if researchers are included, the number increases to 29 (38%). This is followed by 21 members from NGOs (27.6%) and seven members from the business community (10%). Members from the academic  field were from diverse backgrounds including sociology, history, political science, international affairs, engineering, natural science, economics, and law. The disciplines that had the most number of members in the committee were humanities and social sciences. PCSD tried to create a democratic governance system in which civil society could have room to engage (Lee 2005), thus contributing to expanded opportunities for participation by civil society.

    4) Gulpocheon-Gyeongin Canal Project

    The Gulpocheon-Gyeongin Canal Project is a waterway construction project that connects Seoul and the West Sea. A drainage channel of 40 meters in width was supposed to be constructed after a big flood of 1987 near the Gulpocheon Stream, but, this drainage channel changed to a canal construction project after the width of the channel was increased to 100 m, which caused a controversy.

    Roh’s presidential transition committee announced the cancellation ofthe Gyeongin Canal Project when the Board of Audit and Inspection pointed out the economic inefficiency of the project. The Roh government decided to construct the drainage channel first and then discuss whether to proceed with the Gyeongin Canal Project after a re-examination of its economic feasibility and business value, but the controversy was not resolved. An agreement was finally reached to create a roadmap and the Council for Sustainable Development in the Gulpocheon Basin (CSDGB) during a joint meeting of the private and public sectors in which the National Assembly, Ministry of Construction and Transportation, Ministry of Environment, local residents, and civil environmental organizations participated voluntarily.

    CSDGB was composed of 12 members: six from the government sector and six from the non-government sector. The council has held 15 meetings since its establishment in July 2005. However, the decision-making process within CSDGB was not smooth because of differences in opinions and attitudes. Members opposing the canal project argued that discussion should not presuppose construction, while those supporting the project argued that cancellation of the project was outside CSDGB’s realm of authority. This could have been the first large-scale national construction project to be determined by collaborative consultation between government and nongovernment sectors, but unfortunately, the final decision on this project was left to the government (Jeong 2007).6

    As a new consultation model, CSDGB was expected to resolve the 10-year-long social conflict, but it failed. There were several reasons for the failure. First, there was little recognition and consensus about the basic principles of composition and management of the council among participants. With respect to the composition of the council, the ratio of participation of specialists was high but that of local residents was low, and therefore, the interests of diverse local residents were poorly reflected. The council itself faced structural limitations due to its limited authority and responsibility. In terms of the management process, focus was given to validity and legitimacy verification rather than to deliberation. Although it was initiated as a new model of governance to form social consensus, implementation of governance did not occur because of the limited participation of stakeholders, limited access to information, lack of mutual trust, little consideration for consensus building, and a lack of alternative approaches.7 Nevertheless, the case of the Gulpocheon project deserves widespread attention as a valuable experiment in governance.

      >  The Lee Government

    1) National strategy for green growth (NSGG)

    In the congratulatory address delivered at the 60th National Independence Day ceremony in 2008, President Lee declared “Low Carbon, Green Growth” as the new national vision that will lead development in Korea for the next 60 years. Then, on July 6, 2009, the Lee government formulated and announced the “National Strategy for Green Growth (NSGG) and Its Five-Year Plan,” with the goal of becoming the world’s seventh largest economic power by 2020 and the fifth largest by 2050. Directions for three major strategies and 10 policies were formulated to achieve this national vision: The three major strategies include adaptation to climate changes and energy self-sufficiency, creation of new growth engines, and improvement of overall quality of life and enhancement of national prestige (PCGG 2009). PCGG has formulated this national strategy in cooperation with 12 joint working groups from the private and public sectors, held a public hearing in 2009, and collected opinions from different government ministries, local governments, and NGOs.

    The approach of this national strategy, however, is strongly governmentcentered, and it is very similar to past “decide-announce-defend approach,” which heavily depends on government authority and regards citizens as passive agents. Most civil organizations are excluded from the strategy formulation process and are simply asked to blindly follow the government’s plan. Furthermore, there is little room for NGOs to engage in the strategy formulation process. One hearing is not enough to reflect the wide range of opinions from diverse stakeholders; in particular, it took only six months to formulate this new national strategy.

    In addition, the report on NSGG argues that GG strategies are for “Korean-style ecological modernization,” which combines the concepts of SD and ecological modernization (Kim 2010). However, the Lee government’s GG strategies are not the same as ecological modernization, because they exclude ecological modernization’s emphasis on citizen participation and social consensus-building (Yun 2009a).

    2) Framework Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth (FALCGG)

    The bill for the enactment of the Framework Act on Low Carbon, Green Growth (FALCGG) was announced by the chairperson of PCGG on January 15, 2009, and an amended bill of FALCGG was preannounced by the prime minister’s office on February 25, 2009. Under the basic principles of GG and NSGG, the amended bill incorporates principles and basic plans related to SD, energy, and climate changes (MGL 2010). The principles mentioned in FALCGG describe the role of the government and the direction the government should take; citizens are not required to participate in any of the decision-making processes (Yun 2009b).

    Some issues on governance can be seen in the legislation process and contents of FALCGG. First of all, credibility of the legislation process is questionable. When PCGG preannounced its first bill on FALCGG, its legal status made submitting it as a bill impossible (Hahm 2009). Thus, another consequent bill was preannounced by the prime minister’s office. The authority of monitoring and evaluating green strategy was transferred from a governance entity, PCGG, to a government-only entity, and the prime minister’s repeated preannouncements brought about confusion and very limited social deliberation among the citizens. Secondly, drafting of the bill was mainly accomplished by the government in less than a year. Furthermore, the period of preannouncement for FALCGG was three days, shorter than the statutory period of 15 days, which also prevented sufficient social discussion. Thirdly, with respect to the legal system, some irregularities occurred. Two other framework acts were downgraded to general acts, and horizontal relations among framework acts were changed to hierarchical relations. The National Assembly’s right to deliberate on those two framework acts was not respected, and existing social consensus on them was discarded. Fourthly, local autonomy was not taken into serious consideration. Provisions were not made for local committees on GG for the purpose of providing recommendations to the head of local governments or for requiring cooperation between the central government and local governments. Finally, citizens are seen as passive assistants in implementing policies, not as active participants in policy decision-making. The government is regarded as the center of decision-making and implementation of GG policy, and the identity of citizens as political agents are weakened through emphasis on their identity as potential green consumers responsible for an environmentally-friendly lifestyle. This idea is a far cry from the concept of governance.

    3) Presidential Committee on Green Growth (PCGG)

    PCGG was officially launched on February 25, 2009 as a presidential advisory committee on GG-related national policies, plans, implementation, etc. PCGG consists of around 50 members including two co-chairs consisting of the prime minister and a member from the private sector nominated by the president. Members of PCGG include private commissioners nominated by the president and commissioners designated by legislature. Private sector members are nominated from among specialists with abundant knowledge and experience in the field of climate change, energy and resources, green technology and green industry, and SD, and the authority of the co-chair from the non-governmental sector is limited, which means the government is largely in control of the committee.

    Currently, the first PCGG is composed of 29 private commissioners nominated by the president and 17 commissioners designated by law. In regard to the number of members from the private sector, 29 nongovernmental members (including one co-chair) are included in the first PCGG, amongst whom professors account for 62.1% (18 of 29). If researchers are added, the total number of professionals from academia becomes 21, accounting for 72.4% of total members. There is just one member from an NGO, but it is not an organization that represents the interests of a wide range of voices. This is because there is no provision about the mandatory inclusion of members from NGOs. There are five members from the business sector, accounting for 17.2%. While academia takes up a big chunk of the composition of PCGG, NGOs are under-represented. In terms of those who have an academic background, scholars from the fields of engineering and economics make up the majority, and only one member is from humanities and social sciences. In terms of geographic region, most members are from Seoul, which makes it possible to assume that the composition of the PCGG members is imbalanced and inappropriate in light of the lack of diversity in academic, regional, and sectoral backgrounds. From the perspective of governance, the composition of PCGG cannot guarantee the formation of  social consensus and legitimacy based on representation (Yun 2009b). There is not much difference in member composition in the 2nd PCGG launched in July 2010.

    4) Four Major Rivers Project

    The Four Major Rivers Project is chosen for evaluation of the Lee administration’s governance because it is the most representative project by the Lee government in promoting GG. According to the Lee government, the Four Major Rivers Project has five key objectives: 1) securing water resources; 2) implementing comprehensive flood control measures; 3) improving water quality and restoring the ecosystem; 4) creating multipurpose space for local residents; and 5) achieving regional development near rivers. Major projects include the constructing 16 dams, dredging 570 million m3 of river sediment, and constructing bike paths alongside rivers (1,728 km).8

    The government announced the “Four Major Rivers Master Plan” in June 2009. In fact, the Lee government tried to initiate the Grand Korean Canal Project, which had been touted as a major presidential election pledge, but the project was opposed by the Professors’ Organization for Movement against the Grand Korean Canal (POMAC), an organization composed of 2,544 professors, and more than 70% of the Korean people voiced their objection against this project. When President Lee released a statement to the nation concerning candlelight vigil protesting importing of American beef, he announced that he would terminate the project.

    According to a government press release, since the issuance of an interim report by the Lee government on the Four Major Rivers Master Plan in April 2009, it had done its best to collect diverse opinions through a number of ways, including local public hearings in 12 cities and provinces around the four rivers, advisory meetings of specialists recommended by related ministries and academic associations, an academic conference held by Korea Water Environment Federation, and a public hearing at Korea Water Resource Association.

    Nevertheless, the Four Major Rivers Project is still the target of controversy. Opponents of this project are suspicious that it is no different from the Grand Korean Canal Project, and they worry about the impact of the project on the local ecosystem, local and national economy, and the longterm negative effects on water resource management. In particular, opponents point out that its implementation process has violated several laws including the River Act, Framework Act on Environmental Policy, Environmental Impact Assessment Act, National Finance Act, and Cultural Heritage Protection Act. In November 2009, opponents of this project filed a lawsuit against the government, but opinions of its opponents were not reflected in the Four Major Rivers Master Plan in spite of several formal processes the government had to go through, and the size of budget increased from US$13 billion at the beginning of the project to US$20 billion within several months. Thus far, all of the four major religious circles in Korea— Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and Won Buddhist circles—have expressed their opposition to the project.

    The Four Major Rivers Project has been carried out as key in the “new deal project” for GG despite social controversy, and this exemplifies the level of governance of the Lee government. If the most important indicators of governance are citizen participation and communication, the Four Major Rivers Project has failed to meet the requirements of governance.

    6After the Lee government was launched, the Ministry of Land, Transportation, and Maritime Affairs publicly announced the continuation of the project in 2008. Construction of the Gyeongin Canal Project was confirmed in the national policy coordination meeting and main construction began in June 2009, after the transformation of the project from one funded by private investment to one financed by public fund.   7Further study is required to clarify this failure, which may be attributable to theoretical limits of governance or practical inexperience.   8The project period is from October 2009 to the end of 2011, and the total budget of the project is approximately 20 billion dollars (when the exchange rate is 1 dollar=1100 won).

    Comparison of Governance of the Two Governments

      >  Comparative Evaluation of Factors on State-Management

    1) National development strategy: SD vs. GG

    National strategies of the two administrations are different in terms of progress and time period (see figure 1). In the case of the Roh government, the National Vision for SD was announced after the establishment of the 3rd PCSD, while the Lee government did things in reverse order. Under the Roh government, PCSD, as the core body for social consensus, enabled the progress of other elements of the policy. Under the Lee government, the announcement of the national vision by the president marked the starting point for establishing a new national strategy. Establishment of NSSD under the Roh government took over four years with active participation of civil organizations, while establishment of NSGG under the Lee government took around six months with little participation of civil organizations.

    The contents of the two national strategies are compared as follows. SD of the Roh government addresses social equity and inter-generational equity, while GG of the Lee government does not. This study assumes that the number of times the word “governance” appears in government strategy reports demonstrates how that concept is perceived by each administration. Thus, the number of times the term “governance” is used in each national strategy report is counted, with the result that the strategy reports during the Roh government mentions the term “governance” much more than the Lee government (50 vs. 7). In particular, the Roh government’s NSSD uses the term “governance” with clearer understanding of its concept. The direction of the Roh government’s national affairs management shows an affinity toward governance, while the Lee government does not. The Lee government does not satisfy the conditions of governance because of the lack of citizen participation, equity, credibility, and civil society participation in formulating national strategies.

    2) Acts: FASD vs. FALCGG

    FASD and FALCGG are similar in some ways, yet different in other ways. Both acts are legislated with the government’s submission of a bill, but the way they are enacted is different. FASD was drafted and submitted to the National Assembly jointly by the consensus of governmental, business, and civil sectors. The preparation of FASD started in 2002 and took five years before being submitted to the National Assembly. During those five years, all three sectors engaged in drafting the FASD bill. It observed the legal period of 15 days required for legislation. Also, it took 52 days from the preannouncement of the bill to its passage, a relatively long period of time, during which diverse stakeholders had time to review and present their ideas. The sufficient time available before and after the preannouncement led to easy passage of the FASD bill through the Environment and Labor Committee with a consensus between the ruling and opposition parties. During the deliberation process, a provision that mandates more than half of the total members to be from nongovernmental sectors was inserted and, consequently, the basis for governance was strengthened.

    FALCGG, on the other hand, was initiated mainly by the government with little reflection on the opinions from businesses and civil society and, consequently, the FALCGG bill has been the target of controversy from the beginning. A preannouncement was made once by PCGG but without legal authority to do so, and it was repeated once again by the prime minister’s office. The period of final preannouncement was just three days on the reason of the allotted time limit. The FALCGG bill was passed solely by thruling party at a meeting of the special committee on climate change, while authority for evaluation shifted from PCGG to the prime minister. This FALCGG bill legislation process has created the perception that the Lee government is unreliable, and because it did not provide sufficient time for social discussion and support-building, the legislation surrounding this bill puts reflection, credibility, and responsibility—all indicators of governance—in jeopardy.

    With regard to the contents of the act, FASD guarantees citizen participation in decision-making processes and gives PCSD the authority to check various ministries from the perspective of SD, while FALCGG regards the public as the object, not the subject, of policies and does not fully allows PCGG to engage in ministry policy-making. Concerning local committees, FASD calls for the establishment of LCSD based on local ordinances and allows LCSD to have the authority to check local policies, while FALCGG allows for the establishment of LCSD based on presidential decree but does not grant LCSD the authority to check. With regard to each framework act’s relation with other acts, although FASD has a higher position than other acts as a framework act, it nevertheless maintains cooperative relations with other acts. However, FALCGG pursues hierarchical relations with other laws, especially downgrading existing framework acts such as FASD and Framework Act on Energy to the level of other general acts.

    Therefore, legislation processes and the contents of the two framework acts reveal the different degrees of governance of the two governments. The Roh government tried to enact FASD based on governance, and the contents of FASD clearly show an understanding of governance. The Lee government does not consider or reflect governance factors in the legislation process or in the contents of FALCGG. Table 4 summarizes the comparison results of these two acts using governance indicators.

    3) Presidential Committees: PCSD vs. PCGG

    PCSD and PCGG are each government’s representative organization for governance. The function of PCSD and PCGG is similar in that both organizations are presidential advisory bodies and have authority over deliberation. Both organizations are composed of commissioners prescribed by law and nominated by the president. The percentage of members from the private sector is bigger than that of commissioners prescribed by law. The 3rd PCSD, however, was composed only of private sector members and local representation.

    However, shares and weight given to private sector members are different in terms of the composition of the committee. The chair of PCSD was a member from the private sector while PCGG has as co-chair the prime minister and a member of the private sector. Therefore, PCSD was relatively independent of government influence, but PCGG is not; the Lee government has more room to be involved in the activities of PCGG. While PCSD concentrated on deliberation and coordination centered on its commissioners, PCGG, as a bureaucratic body, concentrates on policy development and implementation centered on working-level officials (Lee 2010).

    In addition, PCSD included local representation from private sector members, while PCGG does not. The 3rd PCSD included representatives from metropolitan cities, and regions represented by its commissioners were evenly distributed. In the composition of PCSD, wide-ranging sectoral distribution of civil society, academia, and business entities were considered important, but in the composition of PCGG, specialties are more important in organizing private sector members.

    With respect to performance of the two bodies, PCSD was more concerned about conflict resolution than PCGG. PCSD performs conflict coordination as it did in the case of the Hantan River dam construction. In the face of social conflict surrounding the dam construction, PCSD initiated social council and tried to coordinate or resolve conflicts with the participation of local civil society. Although the performance was not completely successful, it contributed to accumulation of social experience in governance. On the other hand, PCGG has not tried to organize social council despite serious controversy and social conflict surrounding the Four Major Rivers Project. Table 5 shows evaluation results about PCSD and PCGG in terms of governance indicators.

    4) Projects: Gulpocheon-Gyeongin Canal vs. Four Major Rivers Project

    On construction of the Gulpocheon-Gyeongin Canal Project, the check and-balance mechanism within the government worked through the legal processes. The Board of Audit and Inspection pointed out the lack of economic feasibility, and the Ministry of Environment rejected an environmental impact assessment report on the grounds that its plan is not clear. In addition, PCSD organized a social consultation council to hear stakeholders’ voices, but this approach has not been successful. This implies that social consultation for governance through citizen participation is not successful without sufficient consideration and application of governance factors as suggested in the above section on theoretical background.

    The Four Major Rivers Project, on the other hand, is suspected by many to be in violation of several laws and, hence, the object of litigation. Nevertheless, there has been no action taken by the Lee government to mitigate or resolve social conflicts surrounding this particular project. In short, the Lee government has not shown any understanding of governance– overnance has disappeared with the onset of the Lee administration.

    In summary, the Roh government paid attention to the importance of governance and applied it not only during the drafting process but also in creating the contents of national strategy and FASD. PCSD, as a representative body of governance, has widened civil society’s involvement, and through it, has tried to solve social conflicts despite the unsuccessful effort in the case of Hantan River Dam Construction Project. Meanwhile, the Lee government is paying little attention to governance in establishing a national strategy and FALCGG. The contents and the drafting process of NSGG and FALCGG reflect little understanding of governance. The Four Major Rivers Project exemplifies this lack of consideration for governance.

    Comprehensive Analysis of Governance in the Lee and Roh Administrations

      >  Factors on State Management

    In the Roh government, stakeholder participation expanded, and other indicators of governance demonstrate the administration’s efforts to iplement governance. In the process of drafting the national strategy and FASD, civil society’s participation was broadly encouraged, relevant information was shared, and autonomy of local governments increased. Most of the moves the administration took were based on existing laws and legal processes, and these efforts enhanced the credibility of the government’s actions. Due to the lack of experience in participatory governance in the past, however, the result of the administration’s efforts, especially in consensusbuilding, was flawed in many ways. Nonetheless, these attempts made by the Roh government set a historical precedent for practicing good governance and will be the basis for future attempts at implementing governance.

    In contrast, stakeholder participation in the decision-making processes of the Lee government has become institutionally limited. As stated in FALCGG, citizens are regarded as objects of policy, and as such, they must comply with the decisions made solely by the government. Information is not made public or shared freely; most of this government’s administrative actions do not follow legal precedents, and autonomy of local governments is reduced in terms of being able to voice their demands to the central government. Every administrative action of the Lee government is rushed through without much discussion because its focus is on the central government managing state affairs by itself and not on the processes of building it. There is no room for citizen participation or reflection on government decisions. In the meantime, credibility of the Lee government has diminished. Attempts made by the former Roh government to implement good governance have not been maintained during the Lee government, in either the formal or institutional arenas. The result of a comparative evaluation of governance of the two administrations using governance indicators are shown in table 6, revealing that the Roh government did make an effort to realize governance while the Lee government neglects the value of governance.9

      >  Analysis on the Causes of Difference in Governance between the Two Governments

    What could be causing the differences in the level of governance between the two governments? First, political ideology and development discourses on which both governments depend are the most likely causes of differences in governance (Lee 2010). The concept of SD embraces the idea of governance because it is attentive to social equity, civil participation, and the process of democratic decision-making. The Lee government refuses to accept any legacy from the previous Roh government and attempts to differentiate itself from its predecessor. As a result, the concept of GG, rather than of SD, is implemented. GG does not place importance on social equity. This is not in line with ecological modernization which emphasizes participation and consultation, an argument that is the theoretical basis of the Lee government’s GG.

    Second, differences in governance may come from differences between the two presidents’ values and leadership style. The policy direction and the management system of the government can vary according to who the president is because South Korea has adopted a strong presidential system (Im 2003). President Roh actively participated in the democratization movement and various NGO activities, and perceived the importance of participatory democracy. In comparison, President Lee shows authoritative leadership; he has held CEO positions in a number of companies, and he is generally more concerned with results rather than the legislation process per say. His leadership is similar to that of a CEO of a private firm in that he places emphasis on efficiency and speed (Han 2008; Hahm 2008). President Roh called his government the “Participatory Government,” and President Lee once called his government the “Pragmatic Government.”

    Third, differences in government management principles, in which presidential leadership and the administration’s understanding about governance are embedded, generate differences in governance. As shown in the report on strategies for SD, the Roh government fully understood the meaning and importance of governance and, consequently, state management principles reflected elements of governance such as trust, communication, decentralization, and autonomy. However, the Lee government has shown a decided lack of understanding about governance and, thus, elements of governance cannot be found in the administration’s visions and goals on national development.

    Finally, the support basis enjoyed by the two governments is different. The Roh government came into power through a cooperative solidarity with civil society, and it demanded civil society to participate in policy-making to act as an alternative to bureaucracy (Park 2007). The Lee government, on the other hand, excludes actors from civil society who criticize his presidential election pledges and government policies, and he manages state affairs centering on bureaucracy.

      >  Comparison of Governance Types

    Based on these findings, the characteristics of the two governments can now be discussed (see table 7). The type of governance promoted by the Roh government was civil society-centered based on a horizontal network in that the Roh government did not exercise the exclusive authority of the government; instead, citizens were encouraged to participate in policymaking. In comparison, the Lee government is more or less authoritarian in that it excludes participation of civil society from the policy-making process; instead, it depends on vertical and hierarchical network despite the existence of PCGG as a venue of governance. With limited institutionalization of civil participation, other governance indicators cannot be expected to work.

    This study has found that the existence and expansion of stakeholder participation, especially citizen participation, is a fundamental basis of governance. Participation in particular is the most important element in governance. Whereas the Roh government’s decision-making model on policies can be understood as pluralism that brings with it a mediocre level of efficiency and high participation, the Lee government’s decision-making model can be characterized as state bureaucracy with high efficiency and limited participation from other parties (Kim 2002b).

    9These findings are similar to recent research results found in Lee (2010). According to Lee (2010), while the Roh government’s policies on SD generally satisfied elements of governance such as democracy, participation, transparency, and respondence, they lacked efficiency. The Lee government’s policies on GG lack citizen participation and democracy because of its top-down, state-directed nature and emphasis on efficiency.

    Conclusion

    It is generally said that South Korean society today is suffering from fragmented and blocked communication. This may be due to the governance style of the current administration. This study began with the question of whether governance is still worthwhile and effective in state management, and then attempted to compare the Roh and Lee governments through evaluation of the two in terms of governance. Many studies have been carried out in the past about the Roh government that founded an administration very attentive to governance as implied by another name, “Participatory Government.”

    Although there are not that many studies or discussions being conducted on governance today, this study still considers the topic of governance to be important. In particular, citizen participation and interaction in policy-making are assumed to be the two most important elements in governance to enhance legitimacy and effectiveness of policies and state affair management that could consequently prevent social conflict. And thus, we need to diagnose the status and problems of governance of the current Lee government. To accomplish the research goal of this study, national strategies, law, governance authority, and controversial projects have been selected as comparison values of state management.

    In essence, governance through citizen participation is still meaningful and necessary in order to create a public sphere for social consensus. This will lead to enhanced policy legitimacy and effectiveness. In order to realize governance, it is critical to understand the meaning and concept of governance and to institutionalize the governance system. Short-term experience of failure in governance is not an excuse for neglecting governance. Governance is not an object to be abolished but a condition to be extended.

    Required indicators for governance evaluation used in this study are selected from the results of previous studies, but these indicators are qualitative in nature. Thus, it is not easy to evaluate the two governments’ governance based solely on these indicators because this may limit the objectivity of this study. Nonetheless, this study confirms that citizen participation in the decision-making process is pivotal for governance and is a precondition for realizing other indicators. Future research must clarify governance indicators and delve more deeply into the relative importance of governance indicators.

    Memory of governance does not disappear. Memory of high citizen participation has not disappeared from the minds of the general public despite the unsuccessful experience of governance during the Roh government, and many are desirous of overcoming the failure they experienced in the previous Roh government. This is the process of history; history cannot go back. It is time to consider a rational and effective way to realize governance with the past as a guide.

  • 1. 2003 Assessing Access to Information, Participation, and Justice for the Environment: A Guide. google
  • 2. Evans Bob, Theobald Kate 2003 “LASALA: Evaluating Local Agenda 21 in Europe.” [Journal of Environmental Planning and Management] Vol.46 P.781-94 google doi
  • 3. 2004 Urban Governance Index: Conceptual Foundation and Field Test Report. google
  • 4. Hahm Sung Deuk 2008 “The Difference between CEO Leadership and Political Leadership.” [Philosophy and Reality] Vol.78 P.66-76 google
  • 5. Hahm Tae-seong 2009 “Legal Interpretation and Contradiction of Framework Act on Low Carbon Green Growth.” Paper presented at a seminar proceedings of Korea Environmental Association google
  • 6. Han Jong Ho 2008 “Charisma of CEOs-Turned-Presidents.” [Christianity Journal] Vol.48 P.43-49 google
  • 7. Im Hyug Baeg 2003 “The Future Governance of Presidential System in Korea: Institutional and Managerial Reform.” [The Journal of Asiatic Studies] Vol.46 P.193-223 google
  • 8. Jeong Guy-ho. 2002 “A Study on the Consensus-Building-Mechanism in the Urban Governance for Sustainability: Analysis on the Decision-Making Process of Citizen’s Committee for Green.” google
  • 9. Jeong Guy-ho 2007 “The Implications and Problems of Governance Approach to Environmental Conflict: The Experiences of Sihwa-CSD and Gulpo-CSD.” [Trend and Vision] Vol.71 P.114-52 google
  • 10. Jessop Bob 2002 Governance and Metagovernance: On Reflexivity, Requisite Variety, and Requisite Irony. google
  • 11. Kim Ho-ki 2005 Building a Governance Model for Participatory Democracy. google
  • 12. Kim Jung-ryul 2000 “Future of Government for the Governance: New Public Management and Policy Network.” [The Korean Review of Public Administration] Vol.34 P.21-39 google
  • 13. Kim Suk-joon 2002a Understanding of Governance. google
  • 14. Kim Suk-joon 2002b Politics of Governance. google
  • 15. Kim Yeon-ji. 2010 “A Critical Analysis on ‘Low Carbon, Green Growth’ of the Lee Myung-bak Government: From a Perspective of Environmental Modernization.” google
  • 16. Ko Jae-kyung 2007 A Study on Governance Evaluation. google
  • 17. Lee Sang-hun 2005 “An Estimation of the Extent of Institutionalizing Sustainability of Presidential Commission on Sustainable Development: Focusing on the Case of Conflict Coordination of the Hantan River Dam Dispute.” [Trend and Vision] Vol.64 P.154-84 google
  • 18. Lee Yeon Ho 2010 “The Assessment of South Korea’s Sustainable Development Governance.” [Journal of East and West Studies] Vol.22 P.7-45 google
  • 19. 2001 An Analysis on the Status of Local Agenda 21 and Development of Evaluation Index. google
  • 20. 2010 Framework Act and Its Presidential Decree on Low Carbon, Green Growth in Korea. google
  • 21. 2008 Industrial Development Strategy for Green Growth Based on Knowledge and Innovation. google
  • 22. Na Moon Young 2010 “Governance of Check and Collaboration: Governance Evaluation of Lee Myung-Bak Government.” google
  • 23. 2002 Improving Policy Coherence and Integration for Sustainable Development: A Checklist. google
  • 24. Park Jae Chang 2007 “Establishing Collaborative Governance and NGOs’ Participation to Policy Process: The Case of Participatory Government.” [Korean Policy Sciences Review] Vol.11 P.221-50 google
  • 25. Pierre Jon, Peters B. Guy 2000 Governance, Politics and the State. google
  • 26. 2009 National Strategy for Green Growth. google
  • 27. Ra Mi-kyoung 2009 “Current Issues on Governance Study.” [Journal of the Korean Association for Governance] Vol.16 P.91-107 google
  • 28. Rhyu Ji Sung 2010 “A Study on Analysis of Governance Model in Korean Current Government: Focused on Government Vision.” [The Journal of the History of Korean Administration] Vol.27 P.163-96 google
  • 29. Song Vo Kyung 2004 “Governance and the Role of NGOs.” Collection of Treatises on Women. google
  • 30. 2003 “The Urban Governance Initiative (UNDPTUGI).” [Environment and Urbanization] Vol.15 P.159-169 google
  • 31. 2006 A Decade of Measuring the Quality of Governance: Governance Matters 2007. google
  • 32. Yun Sun-Jin 2009a “The Ideological Basis and the Reality of Low Carbon, Green Growth.” [ECO] Vol.13 P.219-66 google
  • 33. Yun Sun-Jin 2009b “A Study on the Current Status of Green Growth and Exploration of Democratic Governance for Realization of Green Society.” [CJU Journal of Business and Economics] Vol.32 P.7-33 google
  • [Table 1.] Comparison of Sustainable Development and Green Growth
    Comparison of Sustainable Development and Green Growth
  • [Table 2.] Comparison of Evaluation Indicators of Governance
    Comparison of Evaluation Indicators of Governance
  • [Table 3.] Evaluation Indicators and Sub-Indicators of Governance
    Evaluation Indicators and Sub-Indicators of Governance
  • [Fig. 1.] Progress of national vision, strategy, agency, and act.
    Progress of national vision, strategy, agency, and act.
  • [Table 4.] Comparison of the Two Framework Acts
    Comparison of the Two Framework Acts
  • [Table 5.] Comparison of PCSD and PCGG
    Comparison of PCSD and PCGG
  • [Table 6.] Comparative Evaluation of the Two Governments’ Governance Indicators
    Comparative Evaluation of the Two Governments’ Governance Indicators
  • [Table 7.] Comparative Evaluation of the Two Governments’ Governance Type
    Comparative Evaluation of the Two Governments’ Governance Type