Article: Why do democratic societies tolerate undemocratic laws? Sorting public support for the National Security Act in South Korea?


Steven Denney and Christopher Green examine the enduring presence of South Korea's National Security Act (NSA) using a new survey instrument.

This study examines the enduring presence of anti-democratic legislation, specifically South Korea's National Security Act (NSA), in democratic societies. Established in 1948, the NSA curtails civil liberties such as freedom of expression and movement to counter pro-North Korea activities. Despite conflicting with the principles of liberal democracy, the act has been sustained, bolstered by public opinion that ranges from moderate to strong support. However, existing metrics assessing this support are flawed. The study employs a choice-based conjoint method to assess the influence of democratic norms and national security considerations on public opinions concerning various NSA-related policies, including the act's potential repeal. The findings reveal that public support for the NSA is substantial and is motivated by both democratic and security considerations. Both progressives and conservatives concur that the act should not be repealed, although progressives are more inclined to advocate for its modification to better align with democratic principles. The study enhances our understanding of the complex relationship between national security and democratic governance, with specific reference to South Korea's post-democratic transition.

Christopher Green and Steven Denney. "Why do democratic societies tolerate undemocratic laws? Sorting public support for the national security act in South Korea". Democratization (2023): 1-19.