Publication Date

April 2016

Advisor(s)

Mary Alice Haddad

Major

Government

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis examines whether South Korean voters are divided by regions in the 2000s. Regionalism is characterized by a political divisions of Youngnam (the conservative stronghold) and Honnam (the liberal stronghold). Most scholars agree that regionalism existed in the 1990s, the first decade of the post-democratization period. However, scholars are divided whether there is a regional political division exist in South Korea after the 2000s. In existing studies, political scientists examine regionalism based on voter choices during the election time. Considering there are other political preferences in addition to election results, this thesis incorporates different political preferences to the study of regionalism. My study demonstrates that voters are no longer divided by regions in political preferences. Instead of regional division, I find that there has been a general shift of the Korean electorate toward the conservative party and Honnam voters’ strong liberal party support. My analysis also demonstrates that both Honnam and Youngnam show mixed conservative-liberal preferences on foreign, security, and economic policy issues, rejecting the applicability of existing regionalism framework in these regions. Furthermore, to explain Honnam’s consistent liberal party support, this study suggests that there may be a third variable that confounds a relationship between region and partisanship: a shared experience of regional discrimination and biases against Honnam.

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