In the decade and a half following Korean liberation from Japan in 1945, a category of men prowled Seoul’s back alleys and also its halls of power. These figures might be called street leaders, for they were directly linked on one hand to private agents of violence and on the other to the top state and political elites of the country. The most notorious individuals included Kim Tu-han, a gang leader who became an elected politician, and Yi Chŏng-jae, a “political gangster” who helped party politicians with their dirty work. Street leaders like Kim and Yi were on the scene at key moments in the republic’s early political development. An examination of the political careers of Kim and Yi reveals how important cooperation between such actors and elite politicians was to state-building, political mobilization, and design of electoral institutions – processes that created the contemporary South Korean polity. Both the alliances between politicians and street leaders as well as the destruction of those alliances left deep impressions on South Korean politics.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/erikmobrand/1/