DepositThe Illusory Chaebol Republic

This article deals with the South Korean chaebols – whose economic power affords to them the position of economic elites – and their ties to the political structures of South Korea, questioning whether or not they could be defined as political elites as well. Given the intimate nature of economic and political power which can be seen on a global scale, understanding how the South Korean case conforms to or deviates from the common experience is telling on the development of democratic and republican actors and patterns in South Korea. Setting up holistic parameters to define “political” power elites, I focus on how the chaebol have become the “economic” power elites, their interactions with the state, and seek historical and practical points of validation for their “political” power elite status. I argue that although the chaebol do have ties to the state and government, they are not themselves “political” power elites.