edited by Byung-Kook Kim and Ezra F. Vogel
contributions by Eun Mee Kim, Hyung-A Kim, Joo Hong Kim, Taehyun Kim, Yong-Jick Kim, Jung-Hoon Lee, Min Yong Lee, Nae-Young Lee, Young Jo Lee, Seok-jin Lew, Chung-in Moon, Gregory W. Noble, Gil-Sung Park, Myung-Lim Park, Sang-young Rhyu, Chang Jae Baik, Jorge I. Domínguez, Yong-Sup Han, Sung Gul Hong, Paul D. Hutchcroft, Hyug Baeg Im and Byung-joon Jun
Harvard University Press, 2013
Cloth: 978-0-674-05820-0 | Paper: 978-0-674-07231-2 | eISBN: 978-0-674-06106-4
Library of Congress Classification DS922.35.P336 2011
Dewey Decimal Classification 951.95043092


In 1961 South Korea was mired in poverty. By 1979 it had a powerful industrial economy and a vibrant civil society in the making, which would lead to a democratic breakthrough eight years later. The transformation took place during the years of Park Chung Hee's presidency. Park seized power in a coup in 1961 and ruled as a virtual dictator until his assassination in October 1979. He is credited with modernizing South Korea, but at a huge political and social cost.

South Korea's political landscape under Park defies easy categorization. The state was predatory yet technocratic, reform-minded yet quick to crack down on dissidents in the name of political order. The nation was balanced uneasily between opposition forces calling for democratic reforms and the Park government's obsession with economic growth. The chaebol (a powerful conglomerate of multinationals based in South Korea) received massive government support to pioneer new growth industries, even as a nationwide campaign of economic shock therapy-interest hikes, devaluation, and wage cuts-met strong public resistance and caused considerable hardship.

This landmark volume examines South Korea's era of development as a study in the complex politics of modernization. Drawing on an extraordinary range of sources in both English and Korean, these essays recover and contextualize many of the ambiguities in South Korea's trajectory from poverty to a sustainable high rate of economic growth.