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Authors

Ilhyung Lee

Document Type

Article

Abstract

Korea has been a constitutional democracy for just twenty years after decades of authoritarian rule. Thus, “equality” is a relatively new concept to average Koreans. Perceptions of equality and equal protection are often shaped by societal culture. Two competing forces affect the Korean situation. First, Korea has deeply embedded Confucian norms that guide contemporary attitudes and practices. Second, Korea has recently undergone a radical social transformation, resulting in changing norms. Toward a more informed understanding of how Koreans perceive equality and equality rights, this Article reports the results of a survey of Korean reactions to a hypothetical suggesting disparate treatment by a commercial airline. The survey assesses whether participants view the airline’s action as (i) discriminatory and/or (ii) unlawful, and (iii) what actions they would take. The vast majority saw the action as discriminatory; a significantly smaller majority viewed it as illegal. Respondents offered many actions they would take in response. In explaining the results, this Article takes account of cultural norms attributed to Korea, the society in transformation, and changes in Korea’s legal institutions during democratization.

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