Candlelight protests were held in 2016 and 2017 in South Korea. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered downtown with candles in their hands, and it is widely recognized as an unprecedented collective action in the history of Korean politics. This study analyzes how the candlelight protests developed and achieved the impeachment of the president. Drawing on political opportunity theory, this paper examines how the political opportunity was formulated in the process and outcome of these candlelight protests. This paper identifies three properties that served as enabling conditions embedded in this case: (1) political freedoms guaranteed in the existing formal institutions; (2) political elites in alignment with the protesters and the rule of law; and (3) low risk of state repression of law-abiding collective action. Overall, the political opportunities were sufficiently established in Korean society for citizens to take collective action and their protests led to the desired outcome.
Ⅱ. Political Opportunity Theory
Ⅲ. Development of the Candlelight Protests
Ⅳ. Exploring Political Opportunity as an Enabling Condition