Decentralization Policies of the Park Geun-Hye Administration*

박근혜 정부의 지방분권정책: 특징과 향후 정책방향 제언

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  • ABSTRACT

    Despite policy efforts made by previous Korean governments to implement decentralization, the outcomes from promoting a system of local government have so far been insufficient. The evaluations that various groups, including academic ones, have made of local decentralization policies of past governments have largely concluded that the original plans were not successfully accomplished, for many reasons, and thus the current level of local decentralization also is insufficient for fulfilling its ultimate goal, supporting the development of a local government system. To dispel concerns of these kinds, the Park Geun-Hye administration is required to continuously conduct in-depth and objective examination of its overall local decentralization policies, successfully carry out local decentralization, and provide discussion in support of its cause. As the result of this problem recognition, this research aims to examine the factors that secure successful implementation of local decentralization policies, apply these to the local decentralization policies of previous governments to ascertain their general limitations, and present alternatives wherewith the Park Geun-Hye administration can successfully advance local decentralization policies.


    본 연구는 박근혜 정부의 지방분권 정책의 특징을 일정한 분석틀에 의거하여 분석해 보고 향후 바람직스러운 분권정책의 방향을 제시해 보고자 하는데 목적이 있다. 이를 위해서 지방분권 정책의 성공적 추진을 담보하는 요소를 살펴보고, 이러한 요소들을 역대정부의 지방분권 정책에 적용하여 일반적인 한계들을 도출한 이후 박근혜정부의 지방분권 정책을 성공적으로 추진하기 위한 대안들을 제시하고자 하였다. 본 연구의 결과를 간추리면 다음과 같다. 박근혜정부의 지방분권도 기본적으로는 이전정부와 연속성을 갖는 것이다. 현재까지 발굴된 지방분권 국정과제의 전반적인 내용도 이전정부에서 핵심적으로 추진하던 다수의 과제들이 포함되어 있다. 물론 이전정부에서 제시하지 않았던 새로운 과제들도 추가적으로 발굴 및 포함됨으로써 신규수요의 대응성도 구비하고 있다. 이와 같은 지방분권 국정과제의 성공적 추진이야말로 지방분권의 수준을 한 단계 높이는 결과를 가져 올 것이다. 그러기 두 가지의 전략에 대한 충분한 고려가 필요하다.

    하나는 이전정부와 달리 박근혜정부에서 제시한 지방주도 및 국가지원의 접근방법에 대한 구체적이고 체계적인 내용이 사전에 제시되어야 한다. 이전정부의 지방분권 정책이 성공적이지 못했다는 경험에 따르면, 박근혜정부의 새로운 접근방식은 과거의 오류를 개선할 수 있는 효과를 기대할 수도 있으나, 중요한 것은 구체적 내용여부에 달려 있다는 점이다. 다른 하나는 이전정부의 시행착오가 반복되어서는 아니 된다는 것이다.

  • KEYWORD

    Park Geun-Hye Administration , Decentralization Policy , Local Governmen

  • I. INTRODUCTION

    Since the establishment of a local government leader elected by popular vote in 1995, local decentralization has remained the direct interest of local authorities, and indirectly one of the greatest concerns of all Koreans. In order, especially, to promote the stability of local governance and its permanent development, the securing of local decentralization is a prerequisite, which makes the interest shown in it by the different parties understandable. In this respect, the Park Geun-Hye administration also requires an in-depth discussion to take place on the policy context and implementation directions of local decentralization upon its launch.

    In fact, despite continuous requests for the enlargement of local government, local decentralization has been a major government project for previous administrations. The Kim Yeong-Sam administration provided the historical background for local governance by electing local government heads by popular vote,1) and the Kim Dae-Joong administration included various tasks relating to local decentralization in a major government project.2) Nevertheless, it can be said that it was during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration that local decentralization gained an important place in major government projects. The Roh administration set local decentralization and balanced development as the two axes of major government projects and supported a “decentralized advanced country”. Later, in the Lee Myung-Bak administration, the emphasis placed on local decentralization was weakened, but nevertheless it was considered a major government project.

    As can be seen, despite the policy efforts of previous governments on local decentralization, their accomplishments are still not sufficient to promote the internal stability of local governance. Evaluations of local decentralization policies of previous administrations by various parties, including academia, state that for many reasons, the initial plans were not fully accomplished, and thus the current level of local decentralization also fails to support the development of local governance, its ultimate goal (Keum, 2009; Keum and Choi, 2013; Kim and Kim, 2007; So, 2011; Son, 2012). In particular, despite the Roh Moo-Hyun administration being marked for its “excessive local decentralization”, the level of local decentralization did not improve greatly, and in the Lee Myung-Bak administration the “local decentralization exclusion effect” brought about the collapse of local decentralization. In this respect, if the Park Geun-Hye administration follows its predecessors in promoting local decentralization in this manner, the process will be entering a fifteen-year period of long-term stagnation.

    To overcome such concerns, a multilateral discussion aimed at successfully promoting local decentralization policy is required on the part of the Park Geun-Hye administration. In particular, according to the experience of previous governments, even if policies regarding local decentralization are rationally designed and their promotion strategies are efficiently planned, unexpected variables are bound to appear in the enforcement process, and also as administration approach their latter days a weakening of political will will make the propulsive power of the local decentralization policy disappear. Thus, the Park Geun-Hye administration should conduct an in-depth, objective examination of local decentralization at the administration’s launch stage, which will not only promote the successful implementation of the policy but also provide a supporting argument justifying it.

    Following on from this recognition of the problem, this research aims to produce an overview of the factors that ensure the successful promotion of local decentralization policies, ascertain the general limitations of these factors by applying them to the local decentralization policies of previous governments, and present alternatives to the Park Geun-Hye administration wherewith it can successfully promote local decentralization policies.

    1)Although local authorities were created 26 years ago thanks to the revised Local Government Act of 1988, the formation of local councils decided by law and the elections of local government leaders were postponed several times owing to the complex political situation at that time. Local councils were first formed at 1991, and the first election by popular vote was held in 1995 (Choi, 2006).  2)The promotions made during the Kim Dae-Joong administration are as follows: transfer of central functions to local authorities; introduction of the municipal police system and the system of educational autonomy to strengthen the autonomous administrative competencies of local governments; and the transfer of the functions of specialized local administrative agencies affiliated to central departments to strengthen the customer-oriented services of local authorities (Ministry of Planning and Budget, 2002).

    II. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LOCAL DECENTRALIZATION AND FACTORS FOR A SUCCESSFUL PROMOTION STRATEGY

       1. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF LOCAL DECENTRALIZATION

    It is agreed that local decentralization means the distribution relationship between central and local government, and that it refers to how much central government authority has been transferred to local government3) (Smith, 1985; Hoggett, 1996). Yet even in this case, local decentralization is both a passive and an active term. Local decentralization can mean the state of the central government’s authority simply being transferred to local government, but can also mean the exercise of the authority included within the transferred scope (Hong et al., 2005). A viewpoint similar to this in relation to understanding local decentralization is the concept advanced by Clark (1985). According to Clark, local decentralization is divided into active authority, which allows local authorities to exercise the authority transferred to them by central government in an intentional and goal-oriented manner, without specific authorization; and passive authority, which local governments can exercise without fear of control or supervision by central government. However, since understanding local decentralization in an active sense can create controversy regarding the authorization capacity of local authorities, this research will define local decentralization simply as the objective state of the authority of central government being transferred to local government. Still, it will be considered as a state that is substantially based on an objective level of distribution between central and local government, but only when the level of distribution fulfills the normative standards of the majority. Additionally, the term ‘local decentralization’ here will be defined as including the nature of the distribution between governments along with the general institutional strategies devised to fulfill it.

    Meanwhile, local decentralizations such as this will be utilized to secure various purposes and effects. In particular, pluralists consider it as the best strategy for securing democracy and efficiency (Smith, 1985). Generally, the usefulness of local decentralization can be discerned from the following effects (Kim, 2005). First, local decentralization is thought to increase productivity by switching national organization from an integrated management system to a decentralized and specialized system. In view of the vast organizational size at which the Government has to operate, a specialized management system is thought to be more efficient than a centralized and controlled management system. Second, local decentralization is thought to promote rationality during policy decisions, by allowing the person with the most information to take the initiative in decision making. To promote the development of local areas, it is necessary for local authorities which have the most accurate information play a key role in major policy decisions. Third, local decentralization will promote voluntary participation of local residents and help mature democracy. In particular, for the development of democracy, institutional support and the establishment of a support system are required to ensure the voluntary and active participation of local residents. Fourth, local decentralization is thought to promote a balanced development of the country and enhance national competitiveness.4) A balanced development of and improvement in competitiveness by promoting the vitality of local areas is possible, provided local decentralization is implemented.

       2. REVIEW ELEMENTS OF PROMOTION STRATEGIES

    Although local decentralization is a matter of pan-national interest in that it transforms the nation’s governance structure, strictly speaking it is one of the policies established and promoted by the government. Accordingly, in order to successfully promote local decentralization the elements that may be considered important in the promotion of a normal policy should be examined according each equal importance. Normally, the successful promotion of a policy means the policy having accomplished its planned political goals (Lee, 1993). Thus, judgment regarding the successful promotion of a policy is principally revealed through policy evaluation. Nevertheless, the main policy enforcers and interested parties usually take an interest in the policy’s success at its decision and implementation stages.

    Generally speaking, the elements that affect the successful promotion of a policy differ according to the approach one takes towards policy implementation. When policy implementation was first discussed in the academic sphere, it was considered as being clearly distinguished from policy decision making. The policy decision maker selected policy enforcers on the basis of technical standards, policy was transferred from decision makers to enforcers via specific forms of directive, and enforcers exercised these directives according to the transferred policy guidelines (Nakamura and Smallwood, 1980). Consequently, the elements that affected policy implementation did not include factors relating to the policy decision making process. However, after policy decision making and implementation came to be seen not as unilinear steps but as existing in a mutually alternating relationship, the contents of policy decisions also were considered as variables that influence the success of policy implementation. Accordingly, standards and goals, the connection between resources and outcomes, communication and reinforcement between organizations, the characteristics of implementing organizations, economic, social and political contexts, and the enforcer’s characteristics are all elements that affect policy implementation (Van Meter and Van Horn, 1975). . This ‘alternating’ view does not take the ‘unilinear’ view’s approach to policy process, but takes a view on policy implementation that is divided into a ‘top-down’ and a ‘bottom-up approach’,5) and presents elements for the successful promotion of each case. Later, an integrated approach that combines the advantages of both views was introduced, which stresses policy design, support for policy decision makers and policy-related groups, factors relating to enforcing organizations and the persons in charge6), and environmental elements (Jung et al., 2003). According to this view, in order to successfully promote policy enforcements and rational policy design, the determination of policy decision makers, the support of policy-related groups, the efficiency of implementing organizations, the competencies of enforcers and a positive environment all need to be prepared. However, although policy environment is a very important element, it cannot be controlled by policymaking authorities and thus will be excluded from this research.

    Therefore, as with enacting other policies in the field of local decentralization, in creating successful promotion strategies an examination of the elements that affect the success of general policies should be made, and sufficient directions [a bit vague/unclear?] should be presented in advance. However, the major projects of local authorities are different from other, general policies in that they are focused on the distribution of authority between governments, and the emphasis placed on effect factors may differ.

    3)Of course, decentralization does have an aspect of distribution authorities between various main agents. It is clear that decentralization exists in many forms that relieve the burden of central government, such as decentralization to local authorities, the transfer of authority to field offices such as dispatched organizations, and the transfer of public functions to the private sector or voluntary agencies (Jung, 2006).  4)There is controversy regarding the view that local decentralization enhances national competitiveness via balanced development. It is argued by some that, if local decentralization and balanced development are implemented in a parallel fashion, this might cause a conflict in policy goals and even reduce the synergy effect (Lee, 2005).  5)A top-down approach is useful when analyzing the factors that affect policy implementation from a managerial viewpoint, whereas a bottom-up approach emphasizes the strategic advantages of policy enforcers.  6)The elements mentioned as vital to policymakers ensuring successful policy implementation are: workplace conditions; a sufficient level of education; centralization of authority; and professional experience (Lee, 1993).

    III. PERFORMANCE AND LIMITATIONS OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROJECT PROMOTION BY PREVIOUS GOVERNMENTS

       1. PERFORMANCE IN PROMOTING LOCAL DISTRIBUTION GOVERNMENT PROJECTS DURING THE ROH MUH-HYUN ADMINISTRATION

    Unlike its predecessors, the Roh Muh-Hyun administration adopted “decentralization and autonomy” as one of its four principles of government operation, and on this basis presented “a decentralized advanced country through the vitality of local regions” as the purpose of local decentralization policies. To construct a “decentralized advanced country”, 47 tasks, in seven categories, were chosen as government projects for local decentralization, by applying various principles such as the “decentralization first, supplementation later” principle, the principle of subsidiarity and the principle of diversity, and by promoting decentralization with a focus on committees such as the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization and the Presidential Committee for Decentralization. The performances of local government project promotion by the Roh Muh-Hyun administration were as follows (Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization, 2008):

    The performances for revitalizing local governance and improving the electoral systems were:

    In these respects, although the level of local authority empowerment, including reorganization of special local administration organizations, was limited, the administration showed a remarkable performance in creating administrations that expanded the responsibility of local government.

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    ] Promotion of local distribution government projects during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration: performance

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       2. PERFORMANCE IN PROMOTING LOCAL DISTRIBUTION GOVERNMENT PROJECTS DURING THE LEE MYUNG-BAK ADMINISTRATION

    The Lee Myung-Bak administration also included local decentralization as one of its hundred government projects, and strived to promote local decentralization for the “construction of an advanced first-rate nation through a creative and active local society”. Accordingly, 20 tasks, in four categories, were set as government projects for local decentralization, and efforts to accomplish these have been made focused on the Presidential Committee for Decentralization and the Presidential Committee for Local Administrative Reform. The results are as follows (Presidential Committee for Decentralization, 2011). First, in terms of reallocating authorities and functions, 1,178 affairs were transferred to local authorities. Of the specialized local administrative agencies that needed organizing, some functions relating to national highways and rivers, sea harbors, food and drugs were delegated. The introduction of a local income tax and a local consumption tax for securing local finances, the establishment of Special Bills on the Reform of the Local Administrative System for strengthening local capacity, and the designation of interchangeable office positions to promote an exchange of personnel for expanding cooperation and social consensus can be stated as major achievements. Nevertheless, although organizing the functions of specialized local administrative agencies can be seen as a tangible result compared to the actions of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration, the form of delegation practiced by the Lee Myung-Bak administration cannot be seen as practical. When this is taken into account, the abolition of agency-delegated affairs, the transfer towards a system of legally delegated administrative affairs and the introduction of local income and consumption taxes can be viewed as the administration’s most notable achievements (Keum and Choi, 2013).

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    ] Promotion of local distribution government projects during the Lee Myung-Bak administration: performance

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       3. LIMITATIONS IN PROMOTING LOCAL DECENTRALIZATION PROJECTS UNDERTAKEN BY PREVIOUS GOVERNMENTS

    1) Evaluation based on examination criteria

    (1) Rational policy design

    First, it is clear that both the Roh Muh-Hyun and the Lee Myung-Bak administrations revealed limitations in terms of rational policy design. The Roh Muh-Hyun administration saw a large number of experts participating and securing sufficient logicality and specificality for enacting government local decentralization projects, but received criticism for placing national balanced development and local decentralization on a parallel basis. National balanced development is a permanent policy whereas local decentralization is temporary, and if the side-effects of local decentralization policies prove increasingly negative there is a tendency to return to centralism. Thus, promoting national balanced development and local decentralization at the same time can lead to a paradoxical outcome (Kim, 2007). Realistically, although the local authorities of capital and noncapital regions agreed regarding issues relating to local decentralization, they exhibited conflicting views when discussing national balanced development policies such as deregulation of capital areas and the construction of an administrative capital. Additionally, the subdivision of the local decentralization government project into 47 sections led to criticism that it was solely aimed for performance evaluation, and thus local governments could not experience the differences7) (Kim et al, 2007). The Lee Myung-Bak administration basically planned government projects on the basis of a complementary approach towards the projects planned during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration. In other words, improvement of the classification system for public affairs, organization of specialized local administrative agencies, education, and introduction of the municipal policy system, projects that were unaccomplished during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration, were selected as government projects for local decentralization. In addition, the organization of the local autonomy administrative system, the introduction of specialized local government administrations, an expansion in advertising and the formation of a local government consensus were included as government projects. The local decentralization projects of the Lee Myung-Bak administration were not so different from their predecessor’s, which was the result of a rather low priority being set for local decentralization and local autonomy, and thus a failure to input government core competencies (Son, 2012). One other limitation of the policy design constructed by Lee Myung-Bak administration is that although it imitated the policies constructed by the Roh Muh-Hyun administration, it repeated the alternative design process. Although the effect of imitation is to analyze the problems encountered by the previous administration and implement the same solution so as to save time, the Lee Myung-Bak administration imitated not only the policies of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration but also its planning stages, including alternative design, and thus lost the meaning of policy imitation.

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    ] Local decentralization projects of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations

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    (2) Determination of the policy decision maker

    If one considers the determination of the policy decision maker, the Roh Muh-Hyun and t Lee Myung-Bak administrations are to be evaluated very differently. In terms of taking policy decisions, President Roh Muh-Hyun showed very strong determination whereas President Lee Myung-Bak lacked such competencies. According to the policy keynote which helps to determine the decisions of the policy decision maker, although the Roh Muh-Hyun administration presented a “decentralized advanced country” by innovating in central and local government and local societies and reorganizing the country on the basis of local decentralization, owing to the priority placed on balanced development policies the expected goals were not reached (So, 2011). By comparison, the policy keynote of the Lee Myung-Bak administration was to strengthen local development and national competitiveness through local decentralization, and ultimately to construct a first-rate advanced nation. The ultimate goal of creating an advanced country is similar to that of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration (Kim, 2010), but the focus has been on competitiveness, not a decentralized system, and moreover, the administration has not emphasized local decentralization very much.

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    ] Local decentralization policy keynotes of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations

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    (3) Support of policy-related groups

    The groups relating to local decentralization policy are, directly and indirectly, very widespread and diverse. However, those that have a direct-interest relationship are central departments and local authorities. In other words, since a fundamental characteristic of local decentralization is that it redistributes authority between central and local government, central departments and local authorities show a direct interest in it. In addition, since local decentralization transfers the authority of central government to local government, in general central departments passively resist such policies while local governments show active support for them. This support shown by central departments and local authorities for such local decentralization policies remains unchanged over different administrations and is regarded as a settled phenomenon. Thus, in both the Roh Muh-Hyun and the Lee Myung-Bak administrations, support by related groups for local decentralization policies should be seen in terms of a structure of mutual confrontation between central departments and local authorities. Specifically, it manifested itself as an objection by central departments to local decentralization, contrasted with local government requests and support; in particular, government projects concerned with authority reallocation were staggering along because of objections from central departments. For example, the major cause of the failure to organize specialized local administrative agencies may be seen as being the strong resistance of central departments (Keum et al., 2012).

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    ] Local decentralization policy groups of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations

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    (4) Efficiency of enforcement organizations

    Enforcement organizations are those that directly carry out local decentralization policies ordered by the government. Thus, the efficiency of these organizations is key to determining the success or failure of the policy that is being implemented. The enforcement organizations of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration formed a sort of task division system whereby the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization established basic plans, and the Presidential Commission for Promotion of Local Empowerment discovered restructuring strategies, discussed them and confirmed them. In comparison, the enforcement organization of the Lee Myung-Bak administration ran a function-based division system whereby the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization managed overall local decentralization policies, and the Committee on the Reform of the Local Administrative System focused on policies relating to local administrative system reforms.8) Nevertheless, the enforcement organizations of both the Roh Muh-Hyun and the Lee Myung-Bak administrations are basically organized in the same dualistic manner. Such a structure is seen to have limitations as regards clearly dividing roles and clarifying matters of responsibility. One example of this is the repetitions that occurred during the Lee Myung-Bak administration, such as the organizing of specialized local administrative agencies and the introduction of the municipal police system being examined twice by the Presidential Committee for Decentralization and the Committee for Reform of the Local Administrative System. Also, both administrations had placed related departments in charge of the practical enforcement of local decentralization policies, and thus this could not be fully carried out. In other words, the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration, and the Presidential Committee for Decentralization during the Lee Myung-Bak administration, contained functions that allowed them to examine and evaluate local decentralization policies based on special laws, but they both lacked effective countermeasures in cases where the related department showed unsatisfactory performances.

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    ] Local decentralization enforcement organizations of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations

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    (5) Competencies of enforcers

    The competency of enforcers is also a key factor in determining the successful implementation of local decentralization. In general, to successfully implement policies, the policy consent and professionalism of the enforcer are required. The Roh Muh-Hyun administration’s Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization has between 20 to 30 members, who are either chiefs of related central administrative agencies, or people appointed by the President or the four local organizations. The Affairs Committee was not established.9) By contrast, the Lee Myung-Bak administration’s Presidential Committee for Decentralization was made up of ten members appointed by the President or recommended by the Chairman of the National Assembly and four local organizations, and had an Affairs Committee that was established to support the work of the committee. Although the Roh Muh-Hyun administration appointed a professional expert of high repute as committee chairman, six committee members were members ex-officio, and thus, except for the Minister of Public Administration and Security, were generally opposed to decentralization (Kim, 2004), which led to difficulties in obtaining policy consent for local decentralization. Therefore, it cannot be said that the required professionalism was sufficient lyput in place. In contrast, although the Lee Myung-Bak administration at first appointed a local autonomy layman as chairman, by limiting ex-officio members to the Minister of Public Administration and Security and the Minister of Strategy and Finance, it obtained political consent for local decentralization and secured operational efficiency by reducing the size of the committee (Kim, 2010). However, in the case of commissioned members, both administrations regulated qualification factors so that those with plentiful experience and knowledge of local administration could be selected, and so it may be said that their committees possessed a certain level of policy consent and professionalism.

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    ] Local decentralization enforcers of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations

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    2) Integration of the administrations’ limitations per review elements

    An integration of the administrations’ limitations derived from the results of an analysis conducted on the local decentralization policies of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations per review elements shows the following. In terms of rational policy design, the Roh Muh-Hyun administration led to balanced development and policy conflict, while the Lee Myung-Bak administration emulated its predecessor but failed to gain from this as it also repeated the same stages in policy design. In terms of policymaking determination, the Roh Muh-Hyun administration showed strong determination at its launch, which weakened during its later years in office owing to many situational changes. Meanwhile, during the years in office of the Lee Myung-Bak administration, local decentralization had a relatively low priority compared to other policies. In terms of the support of policy-related groups, both administrations exhibit the phenomenon of conflict between central and local government, such as when central government opposed functional reallocation. Regarding the efficiency of enforcement organizations, both administrations formed a dual structure, which made it difficult to clearly distinguish the roles of different enforcement organizations, and by putting related departments in charge of practical policy enforcement made it difficult to ensure implementation. As regards the competencies of enforcers, the make-up of the Committee (excluding the chairman) was changed in the Lee Myung-Bak administration by reducing the number of ex-officio members, and thus relative policy consent could be gained.

    In view of these analysis results, the Park Geun-Hye administration has a need to painstakingly analyze the results of local decentralization projects enforced by previous administrations and devise alternatives that will minimize trial-and-error. In particular, given that government projects on local decentralization do not greatly differ between administrations, the experience of previous administrations can serve as an important basis for policy success.

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    ] Limitations in the promotions of previous administrations: summary

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    7)Although initially (July 2003) the Roh Muh-Hyun administration started with 20 government projects for local decentralization, in November 2004 the number was increased to 47.  8)As regards the local decentralization policy enforcement organizations of the Lee Myung-Bak administration, in December 2008 a single committee, the Presidential Committee for Decentralization was established, based on the Special Act on Promoting Local Decentralization. In 2010, however, following the enactment of the Special Bills on the Reform of the Local Administrative System, the Presidential Committee for the Reform of the Local Administrative System was established, and the enforcement organizations were switched to a dual structure.  9)The reason why the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration did not establish an affairs committee like that of the Lee Myung-Bak administration was the existence of the Presidential Commission for Promotion of Local Empowerment, which took charge of function transfers. This commission performed roles later managed by the affairs committee of the Lee Myung-Bak administration’s Presidential Committee for Decentralization.

    IV. EXAMINATION OF THE LOCAL DECENTRALIZATION GOVERNMENT TASKS OF THE PARK GEUN-HYE ADMINISTRATION

       1. POLICY KEYNOTES

    The Park Geun-Hye administration also selected local decentralization as one of 140 government projects. According to the government projects announced at the Commission on Presidential Transition, Strategy 18, “Regional balanced development and promotion of local decentralization”, is included in Government Objective 4, “A society of security and integration”. As can be seen, the Park Geun-Hye administration also considers local centralization an important issue for government. The difference is that the Park Geun-Hye administration takes a different approach to local decentralization policies from its predecessors. It has eschewed the conventional method whereby local government follows the national lead, and has adopted a new strategy whereby local authorities are understood as partners and themselves take the lead, followed by the nation as a whole.

       2. GOVERNMENT TASKS

    The local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration are not as yet completely determined. Given the experiences of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations, if the Presidential Committee on Regional Development begins functioning, the local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration will also be fully determined via in-depth discussion conducted there.

    However, according to data presented below, the local decentralization projects selected by the Park Geun-Hye administration so far are as follows. First, the local decentralization policies included in the 140 government projects announced by the Commission on Presidential Transition are as follows. Included in strategies for regional balanced development and promotion of local decentralization are (1) expanding local finances and strengthening integrity, and (2) strengthening local decentralization and revitalizing civil societies and local communities. Specific information on the two government projects is shown in Table 9.

    [

    ] Local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration

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    Meanwhile, according to internal date of the Commission on Presidential Transition, there are specific explanations of the local decentralization government project included in the 140 government projects. The internal data divide government local decentralization projects into four sectors, and accord specific projects to each sector.

    First, for promoting a strong local basis for decentralization, the policies mentioned are:

    The policies cited for securing a productive autonomy basis by strengthening self-governing capacity are:

    The stated measures for expanding local finances and strengthening integrity are:

    The measures for practicing neighborhood autonomy as well as revitalizing civil societies and local communities are:

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    ] Local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration: specific undertakings

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       3. PROMOTION ORGANIZATIONS

    A Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development is projected, which will enact overall planning and implementation of the local decentralization projects for the Park Geun-Hye administration. According to the Special Act on Local Decentralization and Reform of the Local Administrative Systems, the administration is to combine the Presidential Committee for Decentralization and the Committee on Reform of the Local Administrative System established by the Lee Myung-Bak administration, to found the Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development. This committee will perform the role of (1) integrating policies relating to local decentralization, (2) presenting local administrative system reforms for consideration and decision, and also the role of inspecting and evaluating the promotion process.

       4. A COMPARATIVE EXAMINATION WITH PREVIOUS ADMINISTRATIONS

    The characteristics of the local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration compared with its predecessors are as follows.

    First, the number of government projects planned by the Park Geun-Hye administration is 20, much less than the 47 of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration, and equal to the number implemented by the Lee Myung-Bak administration. This is seen as excluding projects dating from the Roh Muh-Hyun administration’s time in office that have been accomplished or that are considered unimportant.

    Second, there have been modifications and additions to government project fields, such as adapting seven government projects dating from the Roh Muh-Hyun administration and seven dating from the Lee Myung-Bak administration and placing them in four categories, which are:

    Third, modifications were made according to the characteristics of government projects. On the basis of the Roh Muh-Hyun administration’s projects, municipal police and educational autonomy, which belonged to redistribution of authority between central and local government, plus revitalization and reinforcement of local parliamentary politics including improving electoral systems and complementation of the party political nomination system for local elections, were transferred to the self-governance competencies sector. This is seen as streamlining government project sectors and is the result of a new understanding of their characteristics.

    Fourth, unlike the projects dating from previous administrations’ time in office, most of the Park Geun-Hye administration’s projects are new additions. The local effect evaluation system deriving from national policies, consolidation of the fiscal balance effect by improving the local finance mediation system, the reinforcement of the operational responsibility of local enterprises and investment agencies, the development of a quasi-metropolitan city model for counties and cities with a population greater than 10 million, the consolidation of neighborhood living autonomy, the reinforcement of a tailored integrated service delivery system focused on grassroots districts, and the revitalization of civil societies belong to this category. This reflects new administrative demand, and the perspective adopted by the Park Geun-Hye administration towards the development of local self-government.

    Viewing the government projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration mentioned above, we can see that overall, its strengths are more actualized government project contents, a more proactive response to towards administrative demands than its predecessors’, and the realization of basic everyday autonomy via tier-down decentralization. On the other hand, the administration’s weaknesses are the exclusion of a decentralized constitutional reform, which has been seen as the fundamental solution to the problem of the reinforcement of local decentralization (a problem which has been constantly brought up), and the exclusion of the expansion of self-legislative powers.

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    ] Local decentralization projects of the Roh Muh-Hyun, Lee Myung-Bak and Park Geun-Hye administrations: comparative summary

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    V. SUCCESSFUL PROMOTION STRATEGIES FOR LOCAL DECENTRALIZATION PROJECTS

       1. PROSPECTS PER REVIEW ELEMENTS

    1) Rational policy design

    So far, the only policies concerning local decentralization that the Park Geun-Hye administration has announced in public are those presented at the Commission on Presidential Transition. As mentioned earlier, these are projects relating to expanding local finances, strengthening integrity and local decentralization, and revitalizing civil societies and local communities. According to these, even excluding discussion of the directions and the concreteness of local decentralization policies or their collision with other policies, the scale of the government projects is small, and they also lack key information. However, the government projects presented at the Commission are thought to indicate a general direction, and it is assumed that specific contents will be announced later.10)

    Even in previous administrations, the final versions of specific government projects were set and announced after committees such as the Presidential Committee on Government Innovation and Decentralization or the Presidential Committee for Decentralization were established, and multilateral discussions were made. Therefore, the Park Geun-Hye administration will also be able to produce more precise policy design after the establishment of the Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development. Nevertheless, there is a need for the Park Geun-Hye administration to adequately consider a number of key points while establishing local decentralization projects with the Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development. First, policies presented by various groups, such as the nationwide conference of governors and mayors should be examined and reflected upon. In particular, the nationwide conference of governors and mayors,11) will certainly present local centralization policies from the perspective of local governments, so its views should carry weight. The second point concerns the application of policies that have continuously been selected as local decentralization projects by previous administrations. These government projects were in principle required to guarantee the substance of local decentralization, but have not been implemented owing to opposition from groups such as central departments.

    2) Determination of the policy decision maker

    It is appropriate to judge the determination of President Park Geun-Hye from her policy keynotes about local decentralization. However, as mentioned above, there is not enough evidence to judge the political determination of the President clearly when government projects for local decentralization have yet to materialize. Still, the fact that President Park has suggested the promotion of local decentralization through the Commission on Presidential Transition in spite of her emphasis on economic democratization, welfare expansion and living safety shows that her will to carry forward local decentralization policies is not weak. Of course, although it is hard to quantify President Park’s policy will towards local decentralization exactly, in view of the overall distribution of government projects it can be said to be relatively weaker than President Roh Muh-Hyun’s, but stronger than President Lee Myung-Bak’s. To ensure a smooth promotion of local decentralization projects, a clear, timely expression of the President’s will is required.

    3) Support of policy-related groups

    The Park Geun-Hye administration is seen to be little different from the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations in terms of support for policy-related groups. This is basically because reallocation of authority between central and local governments, the principal task for local decentralization, has a contrastive structure, with central departments objecting and local authorities supporting it. Therefore, if the Park Geun-Hye administration also limits policy-related groups to central departments and local authorities, the previous support system will reappear, or be sustained. However, the possibility (depending on policy design and the policy will of the President) that the support of local authorities, the traditional support groups, might be withdrawn should be considered. Given the policy characteristics of local decentralization, although it is natural for local governments to adopt a supportive stance, there is always a possibility that the policy failures and weakening of policy will witnessed during previous administrations might cause local authorities to show only passive support or even support withdrawal. In order to prevent this from happening, there is a need to conduct a rational policy design and clearly express the President’s will to decentralize.

    4) Efficiency of enforcement organizations

    The Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development has been established as the enforcement organization of the Park Geun-Hye administration. According to the Special Act on Local Decentralization and Reform of Local Administrative Systems that passed through the Assembly plenary session on the 7 May, in order to promote local decentralization and reform of the local administrative system on a comprehensive, systematic and organized basis, the present Presidential Committee for Decentralization, and the Committee for Reform of the Local Administrative System, should be amalgamated as the Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development. According to such plans, the enforcement organizations of the Park Geun-Hye administration will show no notable change in its role and status compared with those of previous administrations, but will be changed from a formation system to a single system. Accordingly, the enforcement organization of the Park Geun-Hye administration that manages local decentralization projects will be expected to solve many problems that existed in previous administrations owing to the separation of enforcement organizations. For example, indefiniteness in role allocation, repetitions in government project promotion, and ambiguity in matters of responsibility were problems that appeared during the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations. These problems, that appeared owing to enforcement organizations existing in a dualistic form, are intended to be solved by the Park Geun-Hye administration via the organizations being changed into a single system. Nevertheless, given the functions and roles of the Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development, the security capacity of decentralization policies, a problem in previous administrations, is likely to be a problem for this administration as well. Not unlike its predecessors, the Committee on Local Development focuses on the planning of decentralization policies and the evaluation of the performance state, and leaves practical policy enforcement to related departments. There is no specific collateral other than suggestions of delays in policy enforcement.

    5) Competencies of enforcers

    The Presidential Committee on Local Autonomy Development consists of 27 members, including one chairman and two vice-chairmen, and members are divided into ex-officio members and commissioned members. The ex-officio members are the Minister of Strategy and Finance, the Minister of Security and Public Administration, and the head of the Office for Government Coordination. As for the commissioned members, six are recommended by the President, ten by the Chairman of the National Assembly and eight by the four local organizations, but the commissioning is performed by the President.12) According to the same rules, the Park Geun-Hye administration’s group of local decentralization enforcers is similar to that of the Lee Myung-Bak administration but is slightly larger in terms of number of members. By greatly reducing the number of ex-officio members the argument against local governance has been minimized, and guaranteeing the recommendation of the Chairman of the National Assembly and the four local organizations other than the President has made it possible for the opinions of local organizations to be heard. Not only that, but in terms of the recommended qualifications of members, the standards are set as requiring members to have extensive experience of local administration and thus, policy consent to local decentralization, as well as professionalism, can be ensured. Given the combination of these factors, although a proper judgment on the local decentralization enforcers of the Park Geun-Hye administration can be made only after establishment of the committee, in terms of recommendation standards only it does not fall behind its predecessors.

       2. SUCCESSFUL PROMOTION STRATEGIES

    1) Choice of and concentration on government projects

    In order for the Park Geun-Hye administration to successfully promote local decentralization projects, application of the “strategy of choice and concentration” in designing government projects is needed most. Given the principles of local decentralization, the key government projects to accomplish a certain level of local decentralization are rather clear, and do not need to be distinguished in terms of different levels of government. In this light, the Park Geun-Hye administration should examine local decentralization projects promoted by previous governments, starting with the first election by popular vote in 1995, focus on key tasks that have not been accomplished until now, and conduct policy designs on the basis of such results. As the Special Act on Local Decentralization and the Reform of Local Administrative Systems makes clear, improving the Classification System of Public Affairs, introducing a municipal police system, organizing specialized local administrative agencies, integrating educational autonomy and local governance, expanding local finances and strengthening integrity are all key projects for local decentralization and have not thus far been accomplished. Therefore, considering the Park Geun-Hye administration’s place in the history of local autonomy and its five years in office, although some local decentralization projects are yet to be designed, they should not repeat the errors made by the Roh Muh-Hyun administration. Also, there is a need to ponder their relationship with balanced development. According to the presentation of government projects by the Commission on Presidential Transition, local decentralization is included in the same strategy as balanced development, in the category “Regional balanced development and promotion of local decentralization”. The side-effects of packaging balanced development and local decentralization policies together were well known to the Roh Muh-Hyun administration. Whether from an academic viewpoint or in terms of policy reality, setting these two policies in parallel can be seen to have caused conflict, rather than them complementing each other. Therefore, further discussion of the relationship between these two terms is required.

    2) Providing continuity by reflecting on the local decentralization projects of previous administrations

    Another strategy wherewith the Park Geun-Hye administration can successfully promote local decentralization projects consists of reflecting on the continuity between the government projects of each administration. On the premise that the key government projects regarding local decentralization do not greatly differ between administrations, one of the trials the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations underwent involved the discontinuity between different administrations. That is, the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations repeated the same processes of subject selection, condition analysis, alternative development and promotion strategy formulation when carrying out government projects such as improving the Classification System of Public Affairs, introducing the municipal police system, organizing specialized local administrative agencies, and integrating educational autonomy and local governance. Given that the presidential term is five years, this kind of repetition makes the accomplishment of key government projects almost impossible. Therefore, in order not only to put an end to repeating the errors of previous governments but also to ensure the realization of local decentralization projects, it is necessary to reflect on the continuity of different administrations. In other words, in examining the alternative strategies planned by previous administrations regarding key government projects, if there is no specific need for additions or modifications to them, the Park Geun-Hye administration should focus on directly executing them. In fact, reasonable alternatives to key government projects concerning local decentralization have already been prepared, that were discussed by various parties during the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations. Therefore, reflecting the continuity of previous administrations is in reality well possible.

    3) Government project goals to be accomplished within the first half-period of office

    For the Park Geun-Hye administration to successfully promote local decentralization projects, a focus must also be given to schedules for action. The experiences of previous administrations show that the timing of action on government projects has a very strong relationship with overcoming the opposition of central departments and giving propulsion power to local decentralization policies. Basically, central departments oppose the promotion of local decentralization projects, and to adequately overcome this opposition the President should secure propulsion with determination. That is, out of the many alternatives that can help lessen the opposition of central departments, the determination of the President is the most effective, and therefore the key requirement is to select a period of the President’s office in which their policy determination is strong. According to the experiences of previous administrations, the President’s policy determination regarding local decentralization is strong in the early stages of their term, and weakens as the administration enters its later years. Given this, it is important that plans should be made so that the President can fulfill all key government projects during the middle stages of their term. In order to make this possible, setting the time of action via consideration of continuity with the work of previous administrations, as mentioned earlier, is necessary. In other words, by embracing alternatives to government projects that were developed by previous governments, and ensuring that the Park Geun-Hye administration focuses on establishing implementation strategies and puts them into practice immediately, policy objectives may be accomplished within the middle stages of term.

    4) Implementation of a system of ministerial responsibility for function transfers of respective departments

    Along with the realization of objectives during the middle stages of term, implementing a system of responsibility targeted on ministers of related departments to ensure that they accomplish the objectives is also of considerable importance. In fact, in order to avoid repeating the errors made during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration, the Lee Myung-Bak administration has included inspection regulations and performance indicators in the Special Act for Local Decentralization, as did its predecessor. In addition to ensuring that the Presidential Committee for Decentralization examined and evaluated the performance state of local decentralization policies as well as reporting the results to the President following Cabinet meetings and reviews, central and local governments were compelled to officially announce the promotion schedules for local decentralization. That is, regulations were made requiring the administration to establish policies on the promotion schedules of local decentralization projects, and on promotion methods and promotion stages, to announce promotion performances at least twice a year, and to complete the implementation of policies by the deadline. Nevertheless, there was no subsequent means of compulsion that might ensure projects’ accomplishment in case individual central departments failed to reach their goals, except persuasion. Given such experiences, directly granting responsibility for the completion of local decentralization policies to ministers of related departments, thus ensuring maximum security, is required. The executive methods of a ministerial responsibility system of function transfer include reporting the objectives of function transfer as established in local government development committees to the minister, and having the minister him- or herself report the achievement of the objectives to the President. This is aimed at enhancing the pressure for fulfillment by making the minister take responsibility for ensuring that the promotion of decentralization policies is carried out smoothly.

    10)The Special Bills on Local Decentralization and the Reform of the Local Administrative System, moved in representative by assemblyman Park Sung-Hyo, includes organizing the Classification System of Public Affairs, transferring authority, organizing specialized local administrative agencies, securing local finance and strengthening its clarity, revitalizing local councils and improving local electoral systems, expanding resident participation, strengthening the competencies of local autonomy administration, and forming a cooperative system embracing the whole country and individual local authorities.  11)The policies that were designated local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration presented at the National Conference of Mayors and Governors are as follows: securing independent revenues; transferring the control of specialized local administrative agencies; expanding the range of the legislative power of ordinances; and introducing a municipal policy system and a system of educational autonomy focused on consumers (Kim, 2012).  12)In terms of his or her qualifications, an appointed member must be: one who has worked in a university or an officially recognized research institute for more than fifteen years and has experience in a position equal to or higher than associate professor; one who has had charge of local administration and has experience as at least a first-class civil servant affiliated to the administration, local government, or the National Assembly; or one who is recognized to have as much knowledge and experience on local administration as those belonging to the earlier mentioned qualification factors (Article 46 of the Special Bills on Local Decentralization and the Reform of the Local Administrative System).

    VI. CONCLUSIONS

    The local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration basically show continuity with those of previous administrations. The overall content of the local decentralization projects revealed so far also include many projects that were regarded essential by previous administrations. Of course, there are also projects that were not mentioned by previous governments. These can be seen as satisfying newly rising demands. The successful promotion of these projects as such will take local decentralization to a higher level. To make this happen, as was mentioned earlier, sufficient consideration must be given to two strategies.

    First, unlike the praxis of previous administrations, the information possessed by the Park Geun-Hye administration about its approach to local government taking the lead and to national support should be presented in advance in more concrete, organized form. Given how previous administrations were unsuccessful in implementing local decentralization policies, although the new approach of the Park Geun-Hye administration can be expected to put right previous mistakes, what is important is the existence of concrete information. A second point that should be considered is that the trials and errors of previous administrations must not be repeated. Despite the analysis results from five categories mentioned earlier, if the Park Geun-Hye administration repeats any previous mistakes during the implementation stages, it will not be able to guarantee success in local decentralization projects.

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    • [<Figure 1>] Review elements for a successful policy implementation
      Review elements for a successful policy implementation
    • [<Table 1>] Promotion of local distribution government projects during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration: performance
      Promotion of local distribution government projects during the Roh Muh-Hyun administration: performance
    • [<Table 2>] Promotion of local distribution government projects during the Lee Myung-Bak administration: performance
      Promotion of local distribution government projects during the Lee Myung-Bak administration: performance
    • [<Table 3>] Local decentralization projects of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
      Local decentralization projects of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
    • [<Table 4>] Local decentralization policy keynotes of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
      Local decentralization policy keynotes of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
    • [<Table 5>] Local decentralization policy groups of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
      Local decentralization policy groups of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
    • [<Table 6>] Local decentralization enforcement organizations of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
      Local decentralization enforcement organizations of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
    • [<Table 7>] Local decentralization enforcers of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
      Local decentralization enforcers of the Roh Muh-Hyun and Lee Myung-Bak administrations
    • [<Table 8>] Limitations in the promotions of previous administrations: summary
      Limitations in the promotions of previous administrations: summary
    • [<Table 9>] Local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration
      Local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration
    • [<Table 10>] Local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration: specific undertakings
      Local decentralization projects of the Park Geun-Hye administration: specific undertakings
    • [<Table 11>] Local decentralization projects of the Roh Muh-Hyun, Lee Myung-Bak and Park Geun-Hye administrations: comparative summary
      Local decentralization projects of the Roh Muh-Hyun, Lee Myung-Bak and Park Geun-Hye administrations: comparative summary