A state's stem cell policy characteristically reflects its general approach to governance. This article studies the different trajectories of stem cell policy in the United Kingdom and South Korea from 1997 to 2009, with special attention to the legitimation of stem cell research practices and the response to public opinion. Although the two states had a common aim of promoting stem cell research within an acceptable ethical framework, divergent discourses and strategies emerged from differences in preliminary conditions, in the governments' self-perception, in the interactions of government officials, in the roles assumed by scientists and other experts, and in the methods used to persuade the citizenry. As a result, the United Kingdom has made far more progress toward legitimating stem cell research in the public mind, while South Korea has yet to overcome traumatic experiences with scientific misconduct and public protests.

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