Nongovernmental academic experts have considerable influence on government decision-making. Most observers believe that the influence of expert commissions has decreased somewhat, as President Lee has abolished many of the expert commissions established by his predecessors. However, he also created many new commissions, with a different focus. Commissions dealing with historical issues such as crimes committed during the periods of Japanese colonial rule or military dictatorship have been weakened or even abolished. For example, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be disbanded in 2010, as planned when it was created in December 2005. Critics say the commission is being shut down because the current government is uncomfortable with scrutiny of the country’s past. Others, including the commission’s current president, argue that it has not been cost effective and therefore should cease work. The closure of the commission means that thousands of incidents, ranging from executions to the wartime killing of refugees, may remain uninvestigated, and that South Koreans wrongly accused of crimes against the government may lose their only chance to clear their name.
On the other hand, new commissions have been empanelled, such as the G-20 task force assigned the job of preparing for the G-20 summit. The process of naming experts remains politicized, and expert commission reports and results seem to be utilized according to their political rather than their scholarly value. Beyond their work in commissions, scholars are often tapped to serve in government positions.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Korea, http://www.jinsil.go.kr/English/index.asp
Time running out on South Korea’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Stars and Strips, January 19, 2010, http://www.stripes.com/news/time-running-out-on-south-korea-s-truth-and-reconciliation-commission-1.98156
Truth in danger in South Korea, The Sydney Morning Herald, January 23, 2010, http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/truth-in-danger-in-south-korea-20100122-mqq5.html