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This article is focused on the problems of the development of so-called ‘political fan clubs’ as a peculiar form of civil society and political participation in the contemporary Republic of Korea. With a reference to the phenomena of political clientelism and political populism, the article argues that the rise of political fan clubs has been a result of an interplay between the pre-established South Korean tradition of political clientelism and the more contemporary brand of populism which has spread to South Korea as well. The theoretical foundation of this article is concerned with linking the insights regarding the relationship between clientelism and populism as a form of political participation while using the case of South Korea as an empirical material. In so doing, the ambivalence of the phenomenon of political fan clubs and their further implications for the development of electoral democracy in South Korea have been duly considered. As it has been shown that the political fan clubs often need an organizational basis in order to have a permanently stable connection, it follows that populist and clientelist ties are mixed up. These politician fan clubs then do not represent an alternative to political clientelism, but rather complement the existing clientelist model of political participation.
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