This book examines the changes in politics, economics, society, and foreign policy in South Korea since 1980. Starting with a brief description of its history leading up to 1980, this book deals with South Korea's transition to democracy, the stunning economic development achieved since the 1960s, the 1997 financial crisis and the economic reforms that followed, and concludes with the North Korean nuclear crisis and foreign relations with regional powers. The theoretical framework of this book addresses how democratization affected all of these dimensions of South Korea. For instance, democratization allowed for the more frequent alternation of political elites from conservative to liberal and back to conservative. These elites initiated different policies for dealing with North Korea and held different views on South Korea's role in its alliance with the United States. Consequently, ideological divides in South Korean politics became more stark and the political process more combative.