Change and Continuity in Police Organizations: Institution, Legitimacy, and Democratization
journal contributionposted on 18.06.2021, 01:06 by Wonhyuk ChoWonhyuk Cho
This article analyzes how institutional pressures have allowed for continuities as well as brought about changes in modern police organizations in Korea. When facing a legitimacy crisis, the Korean law enforcement system has typically responded with organizational restructuring. Strong myth-building patterns compensate for the lack of moral legitimacy of the police, particularly under authoritarian-military regimes that suppress democratization movements in Korea. Even after seemingly radical organizational changes aimed at placing the police under democratic control, highly institutionalized core structures of the police remain in place. Performance reform after the economic crisis, which was proceeded from reformers’ shared belief in the market-driven solutions, diagnosed the Korean police as a big, inefficient, and self-serving bureaucracy, a diagnosis that eventually caused gradual deterioration in the taken-for-grantedness of policing activities. The internet and social media made the Korean police even more vulnerable to external challenges and a questioning of its legitimacy.