Leviathan for Sale: Maritime Police Privatization, Bureaucratic Corruption, and the Sewol Disaster

  • VOL. 21 NO. 1
  • pp. pp.27-51

Kyong Jun Choi
Jonson N. Porteux

  • Keywords

    bureaucratic corruption, privatization, regulatory mismanagement, ROK

  • Abstract

    We argue that the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster in South Korea, in which 304 passengers perished, was a result of the mode and process of privatization of South Korea’s maritime police and rescue services. Through the development of a nuanced theory of privatization and use of a novel conceptualization of corruption, coupled with empirical analysis, our study shows that the outcome was symptomatic of a wider trend of systematic bureaucratic rent-seeking. A pro-active private sector ready to capitalize on the opportunity, in conjunction with a permissive political environment, resulted in a reduction of state capacity, with devastating consequences.

  • Author(s) Bio

    Kyong Jun Choi received his PhD from the University of Washington (Seattle) in 2015. His primary academic interests have been comparative politics, international relations, and political sociology with a particular focus on law enforcement and the rule of law in new democracies and East Asian regional politics. He has published books and articles on policing and the state coercion in new democracies. Dr. Choi is an assistant professor at Jeju National University, in Jeju, Korea.

    Jonson N. Porteux (corresponding author: jporteux@kansaigaidai.ac.jp) received his PhD from the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor) in 2013, with a focus on political economy, comparative politics, and international relations, with a concentrated use of East Asian based cases. He publishes most extensively on the economic and political causes and consequences of violence and democratization. Dr. Porteux is an associate professor at Kansai Gaidai University, in Osaka, Japan.