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This article examines the nature of political and institutional reform initiatives that have been carried out under former president Kim Young Sam. How effective have they been in consolidating democracy in Korea? Specifically, we examine why the Kim Young Sam government's political reform campaigns have been limited, and explore the impact of this limitation on his institutional reform initiatives and the process of consolidation of democracy in Korea.

We argue that Kim Young Sam's initial political reform campaigns have contributed to creating a favorable environment for his institutional reform efforts. However, limitations of these initial political reform campaigns such as political funding and bribery scandals have hampered institutional reforms. We also argue that these difficulties were intensified by public dissatisfaction with Korea's poor economic performance and International Monetary Fund (IMF) financial assistance. As a result, Kim Young Sam's moral legitimacy as a civilian and reform-oriented leader toward the public has totally evaporated.

Therefore, experiences under the Kim Young Sam administration are just trials and errors of democratization that show another failure in presidential leadership in Korea. These experiences will negatively affect the consolidation process of democracy in Korea by increasing the public's distrust of government as a whole. As a result, democratic consolidation in Korea is being delayed.