South Korea's democracy ranks 20th in the world, up eight places from two years ago, in an index released by the Economist Intelligence Unit. The Democracy Index 2010 by the think tank affiliated with the U.K. magazine covers 167 countries.
South Korea scored 8.11 points on average, up from 8.01 in 2008, when it ranked 28th.
The EIU evaluates countries in five categories. South Korea fared more or less evenly in all of them, scoring 9.17 points for electoral process and pluralism, 7.86 for government functioning, 7.22 for political participation, 7.50 for for political culture and 8.82 for civil liberties. The scores in 2008 were 9.58, 7.5, 7.22, 7.5 and 8.24 for each category.
The average score is higher than 8 points for the second time, achieving a status of a "full democracy" among four divisions -- "full democracies," "flawed democracies," "hybrid regimes" and "authoritarian regimes."
Japan trailed South Korea in 22nd with an average score of 8.08. Norway is the most democratic country with 9.8 points on average, followed by Iceland (9.65), Denmark (9.52), Sweden (9.58), and New Zealand (9.26).
North Korea is classified as an "authoritarian regime," a level where it is impossible to expect any democracy, and ranked last for the second time.