It is important to note that Korean intellectuals did not produce writings that justified or supported the rise of military governments and their authoritarian tendencies as inevitable or that dealt with them favorably as part of a national revolution in the late 1950s. Korean intellectuals shared a common view that powerful government-led policies and plans were necessary to overcome backwardness in Korean society, but they believed that these plans and policies should be carried out by a democratic government.
Nationalist sentiments shared among the college students after the April 19th Revolution included the notion of elitist enlightenment, zeal for reforms to modernize society and the development of democracy. However, few Korean intellectuals recognized the power of the masses even after the Revolution. It appeared that some college students shared the observation that ‘democracy’ would not fit the reality of Korean society, as nationalism expanded across the nation in the early 1960s. They thought that democracy would be the ideological tool of the United States aiming at exerting influence on such weak countries as South Korea, or that democracy itself would be an obstacle for rapid economic development. While criticizing the established dominant ideology and political and economic system, they insisted on overcoming ‘backwardness’ and establishing a ‘developmental regime’ for industrialization.