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Public Opinion and Advocacy in South Korea Influence North Korea Policy Open Access

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South Korea is frequently characterized as a strong state with an imperial president; however, the recent public protests resulting in the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye suggest there are limitations on the power of the South Korean executive office. This thesis evaluates the correlation between public preferences and policy outcomes in South Korea to assess whether the government is responsive to the South Korean public. I analyze the impact of public opinion polls, advocacy movements, and major news events on 45 North Korea Policy decisions made between January 2006 and December 2016. This thesis finds that policy outcomes are strongly correlated with public preferences, suggesting that the characterization of South Korea as a strong state is a misapplication that fails to acknowledge government responsiveness to the public. As the South Korean government makes North Korea Policy decisions, it likely will heed public opinion, meaning the security of the Korean peninsula and of broader East Asia is tied to the preferences of the South Korean public.

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