During the 1970s, for instance, long hair for men and short skirts for women were forbidden, and police went around with scissors and tape-measures, cutting the offending men's hair in public as a lesson to others. Middle-managers in the Hyundai factories were subjected to kicks to the knee by their superiors for perceived faults. Dissidents were subjected, in this author's words, to "extremely violent punishment" by intelligence agencies prior to 1987 (as significant a year for South Korea as it was for Taiwan). And author Hwang Sok-yong was sentenced to solitary confinement for five years for attending a conference in the North as recently as 1993.
Even so, the country has in the last decade experienced many of the developments seen in Taiwan. During that time South Korea, according to Seungsook Moon, has witnessed a decline in the kind of confrontational, anti-capitalist agitation provoked by former hard-line policies, and the growth of such things as legal organizations pursuing improvement in the quality of everyday life, and the education of the public in such things as rights for workers, women, rural farmers, migrant laborers and sexual minorities, and the pursuit of peace (and eventual reunification) on the peninsular, together with environmental protection and opposition to nuclear weapons.
It is probably taken for granted by most observers that one day North Korea will collapse and the Korean peninsula will be reunited, if only because the model of Germany is inevitably in everyone's mind. Things may not be that simple, however. China is not showing the signs of weakness that the Soviet Union did in the late 1980s, though it appears to be pioneering the resolution of the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons, something that makes the North a potentially more belligerent hornet to deal with than East Germany ever was.
This book, however, does not concern itself primarily with such issues. Its interest is historical and sociological. It wants to demonstrate that there are more ways than one in which modernization can take place and gender consciousness be manipulated -- in South Korea's case as part of a military state that could on occasion massacre its citizens in a way that in Taiwan, whatever other abuses existed, didn't happen after February 1947.