text - Behind Closed Doors
Behind Closed Doors: Corruption in Democracies is a three-part podcast series exploring the fallout of corruption scandals on democracies around the world. Produced and narrated by Carnegie Junior Fellow Heewon Park, the series examines whether political scandals and anti-corruption movements could become opportunities to strengthen democracy or do more harm, and what lasting impacts they have had—for better or for worse.

Episode 1
What is corruption in democracies? How has it changed over time? And, in what forms does it emerge in our society today? Episode 1, “If Men Were Angels, We Wouldn’t Need Government,” answers these questions through the lens of case studies in the United States, including the political scandal of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, U.S. Supreme Court decisions that have eroded controls on influence-peddling, and other frequent tools used by leaders and groups to receive preferential treatment in the U.S. system of government.

Episode 2
The second episode, “Seeing the Monster,” explores what some call the biggest corruption scandal in history—Brazil’s Lava Jato scandal. The story begins at a small gas station in southern Brazil, where a single arrest for bribery in 2013 unleashed a domino effect that would topple hundreds of business executives, imprison a former head of state, and impeach the sitting president. The aftermath of the scandal shows how important it is for anti-corruption movements to not only expose corruption, but also to provide constructive ways to address it.

Episode 3
The third episode, “Trouble in the Blue House,” dissects the corruption scandal often called “South Korea’s Watergate.” When former President Park Geun-hye was first elected in 2013, she held widespread conservative support and was internationally celebrated as the country’s first female president. No one could have predicted that just five years later, she would end up embroiled in a corruption case that would leave her disgraced, impeached, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Although not without its controversy, Park Geun-hye’s impeachment shows how anti-corruption movements can pursue accountability and reform while protecting democratic norms.
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