Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Harvard University Press
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In 1959 South Korea was mired in poverty. By 1979, it had a powerful industrial economy and a vibrant civil society that led to democracy eight years later. This volume examines the transformation as a study in the politics of modernization, contextualizing many historical ambiguities in South Korea’s trajectory toward sustainable economic growth.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-06106-4
    Subjects: Sociology, History, Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Introduction: The Case for Political History
    (pp. 1-32)
    Byung-Kook Kim

    Few periods have changed South Korean history more than the Park era that began in May 1961 with a military coup d’état. The nature of leadership, the political parties and political opposition, the bureaucracy, the armed forces, relations between workers and farmers and their government, the chaebol industrial conglomerates, foreign policy—all were transformed. Meanwhile, economically South Korea grew out of poverty into an industrial powerhouse in one generation, albeit with massive political, social, and economic costs. And after the Park era suddenly ended in 1979, the reactions to what had taken place transformed the country once more.

    The eighteen-year...

  4. PART ONE Born in a Crisis
    • CHAPTER ONE The May Sixteenth Military Coup
      (pp. 35-57)
      Yong-Sup Han

      The south korean armed forces’ intervention in politics on May 16, 1961, was historically “inevitable.” With the democratically elected Chang Myǒn government (1960–1961) paralyzed by internal factional rivalries, society had been waiting for a new political elite that could pull it out of economic poverty, political instability, and social stagnation. The armed forces answered by launching a coup, and the military succeeded in seizing power because of this generalized public discontent. Or so it is thought in much of the literature on South Korean politics. However, upon a closer examination, nothing looks inevitable. On the contrary, if there were any...

    • CHAPTER TWO Taming and Tamed by the United States
      (pp. 58-84)
      Taehyun Kim and Chang Jae Baik

      The united states had an overwhelming presence in South Korea in the years leading up to 1961. It was the United States that liberated the Korean Peninsula from Japanese colonialism in 1945, ruled its southern half directly for three years as a military government, and helped to create a strong anticommunist regime. The United States defended South Korea from military takeover by the communist North during the Korean War (1950–1953). As a legacy of the armed conflict, a large U.S. military presence near the demilitarized zone was maintained by the Americans, who also exercised operational control over the South Korean...

    • CHAPTER THREE State Building: The Military Junta’s Path to Modernity through Administrative Reforms
      (pp. 85-112)
      Hyung-A Kim

      Developmental state theories explain South Korea’s successful transformation into a modern industrial economy primarily in terms of its possession of a professional “Weberian” state imbued with the ethos of “plan rationality,” mobilizing resources top-down in a highly concerted way to minimize costs and maximize benefits, and insulating policy processes from political forces and social interests so that the ethos of plan rationality prevails and drives policymaking. This is a myth. A study of the military junta years (1961–1963), when the South Korean state was recreated as a developmental state, reveals that the role of the state was more complex and...

  5. PART TWO Politics
    • CHAPTER FOUR Modernization Strategy: Ideas and Influences
      (pp. 115-139)
      Chung-in Moon and Byung-joon Jun

      Certainly, Park Chung Hee was a man of action. However, unlike the image portrayed by many historians, he was also a man of ideas and what he believed mattered greatly for South Korea. He mixed the Japanese ethos of top-down mobilization and the U.S. ideas of technocracy with Korean nationalism in most un-Japanese and un-American ways to clear the way for economic growth. As a leader, Park shared the spirit of the Japanese Meiji revolutionaries, Young Turks, and Bismarckian Germans, in which the state commanded the market to expedite the process of development,¹ as opposed to the Anglo-American version of...

    • CHAPTER FIVE The Labyrinth of Solitude: Park and the Exercise of Presidential Power
      (pp. 140-167)
      Byung-Kook Kim

      The political leadership of Park Chung Hee is key to understanding his success in prolonging his rule and bringing economic growth. Yet most of the literature on South Korean politics and economics during his rule simply takes his leadership as a given. Or worse, looking at his leadership as based on his performance, observers assume that the historical achievement of growth necessarily conferred political leadership upon him. There are three problems with such an argument. First, the question is what kind of leadership Park had that enabled him to maximize the South Korean government’s policy performance and legitimize his rule....

    • CHAPTER SIX The Armed Forces
      (pp. 168-199)
      Joo-Hong Kim

      The south korean armed forces became directly involved in politics with Park Chung Hee’s military coup d’état in May 1961. The transition to “civilian rule” in October 1963 dismantled the military junta, but did not make the armed forces less of an actor in the country’s politics. Park was to rule South Korea as a soldier-turned-civilian-politician and the armed forces served him both as the ultimate guarantor of political order in times of crisis and as a stable supplier of loyalists and supporters to man the key institutions of his political regime. The South Korean military belonged to what Samuel...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN The Leviathan: Economic Bureaucracy under Park
      (pp. 200-232)
      Byung-Kook Kim

      Under park chung hee, South Korea approximated the ideal-type “developmental state.” The concept is Chalmers Johnson’s, used with respect to Japan, and was from the 1980s on applied to South Korea by a diverse array of political economists and sociologists, including Peter Evans.¹ The ideal-type developmental state, Evans posits, possesses “corporate coherence” that endows its apparatuses with “a certain kind of autonomy” with which to transcend the interests of social forces in the formulation of goals and strategies and is “embedded in a concrete set of social ties” that link the state apparatuses to society. The state, having developed extensive...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Origins of the Yushin Regime: Machiavelli Unveiled
      (pp. 233-262)
      Hyug Baeg Im

      On october 17, 1972, Park Chung Hee turned back the clock on South Korea’s constitutional progress by replacing the existing constitution with a new one under the pretext of the need for “revitalizing reform” (yushin). The decision, Park argued, was made to permit South Korea to adjust more flexibly to the rapidly changing international security order from the cold war to the emerging environment of détente; to ameliorate the rising military tensions on the Peninsula brought about by North Korean military provocations in the late 1960s; if possible, to prepare the ground for the peaceful reunification of the two Koreas;...

  6. PART THREE Economy and Society
    • CHAPTER NINE The Chaebol
      (pp. 265-294)
      Eun Mee Kim and Gil-Sung Park

      Faced with south korea’s unique transformation into a modern industrial economy in a mere generation’s time, many observers fall back on simple images to explain the state-business relationship that enabled the nation’s hypergrowth. Some analysts project an image of “Korea, Inc.,” where the state and the chaebol deeply penetrated each other’s organizations by personnel exchanges at the top of their hierarchies, seeking to influence decisions and to learn from the other’s organizational features and functions.¹ The chaebol is portrayed as an organization created and managed by the state for national interests, with Park sitting on top as the CEO. There...

    • CHAPTER TEN The Automobile Industry
      (pp. 295-321)
      Nae-Young Lee

      Some say that the rise of South Korean automakers was a miracle. Others portray it as a necessary outcome of the work of a technocratically driven developmental state, visionary entrepreneurs with a “can do” spirit, or their partnership based on asymmetric political exchanges. Still others argue that it was neither a miracle nor a product of a superior state or chaebol institutional capabilities. They brush automaker success aside as growth generated through a massive injection of resources rather than as a continuous improvement of productivity. For some, the automakers had an easy way to growth, with the state subsidizing their...

    • CHAPTER ELEVEN Pohang Iron & Steel Company
      (pp. 322-344)
      Sang-young Rhyu and Seok-jin Lew

      In explaining south korea’s macroeconomic takeoff, Park Chung Hee’s leadership was one of many factors. By contrast, in the development of POSCO (the Pohang Iron & Steel Company), his leadership was the pivotal variable, dwarfing all others in determining the scale and speed of the effort. To recount the story of POSCO is to retell the story of Park as the soldier and the modernizer. When his people yearned to escape from the hunger they endured during the lean months of spring, Park envisioned the building of an industrialized nation, with the steel industry as the engine of growth for...

    • CHAPTER TWELVE The Countryside
      (pp. 345-372)
      Young Jo Lee

      Since the mostly left-leaning peasant organizations were eradicated in the course of the revolutionary challenge and counterrevolutionary reaction during the 1945–1953 period, there have been no autonomous peasant movements to speak of in South Korea. This absence, however, does not mean that the peasantry have been unimportant in politics. The dominant view of their role is that of yǒch’onyado (the countryside for the government, the city for the opposition).¹ Its advocates make four propositions. First, after the land reform of the early 1950s, the countryside turned into a strong support base for the ruling coalition even when it pursued an...

      (pp. 373-400)
      Myung-Lim Park

      South korea is known globally for its success as a state—and for good reason. Energized by Park Chung Hee’s vision and power (1961–1979), and empowered with technocratic rationality, discretionary power, and esprit de corps, the South Korean state achieved economic hypergrowth from the top down in one generation. In the literature on developmental states, it is a rare case, having largely beaten the market in the synchronization of its chaebol partners’ massive entries into new frontiers of growth under their own brand names, product cycles, and distributive networks. Behind this widely celebrated story, however, lies another, much less known...

  7. PART FOUR International Relations
    • CHAPTER FOURTEEN The Vietnam War: South Korea’s Search for National Security
      (pp. 403-429)
      Min Yong Lee

      A U.S. senator once called South Korea’s military troops fighting in South Vietnam “mercenaries.”¹ By contrast, many of Park Chung Hee’s domestic critics believed that South Korea dispatched its combat troops because of U.S. political pressure. Either way, Park was portrayed as a man of moral shortcomings, a willing mercenary on a military mission abroad either for money or a reluctant instrument of U.S. imperial ambitions. The reality, however, was much more complex. Presumably Park could have accommodated U.S. demands by going only part way, limiting the dispatch of military troops to noncombat forces. Or he could have sent a...

    • CHAPTER FIFTEEN Normalization of Relations with Japan: Toward a New Partnership
      (pp. 430-456)
      Jung-Hoon Lee

      Anyone even remotely familiar with East Asian history will attest to the unique and complex nature of South Korean–Japanese relations. The paradox of the relationship is that while the two sides remain vulnerable to recurrences of disputes over unresolved colonial legacies, they have enjoyed since the mid-1960s a symbiotic relationship. Despite sporadic anti-Japan outbursts in South Korea, Japan has for nearly four decades been South Korea’s top trading partner, second only to the United States. The 1990s and the new millennium saw expanded security cooperation between the two, yet anti-Japan protests still flared when it came to the issue of...

    • CHAPTER SIXTEEN The Security, Political, and Human Rights Conundrum, 1974–1979
      (pp. 457-482)
      Yong-Jick Kim

      Relations between South Korea and the United States took a sharp downward turn in the mid-1970s with the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter, who introduced a new South Korea policy that diverged from the United States’ traditional cold war stance in three crucial respects. First, Carter put the issue of human rights abuses by President Park Chung Hee’s yushin regime (1972–1979) at or near the top of the U.S. foreign policy agenda. Second, Carter campaigned for the complete withdrawal of U.S. ground troops from the Korean Peninsula as part of America’s military disengagement from East Asia that had begun with...

    • CHAPTER SEVENTEEN The Search for Deterrence: Park’s Nuclear Option
      (pp. 483-510)
      Sung Gul Hong

      When it comes to issues involving nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea, not the South, comes to most people’s minds. But in the early 1970s, it was the South that became embroiled in conflict with the United States over the issue of nuclear sovereignty. In November 1971, a year before promulgating his yushin regime, Park Chung Hee asked O Wǒn-ch’ǒl, then a newly appointed member of the Blue House senior staff and in charge of developing defense-related heavy and chemical industries: “Our national security is vulnerable because of the uncertainty surrounding continued U.S. military presence on the Korean...

  8. PART FIVE Comparative Perspective
    • CHAPTER EIGHTEEN Nation Rebuilders: Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, Lee Kuan Yew, Deng Xiaoping, and Park Chung Hee
      (pp. 513-541)
      Ezra F. Vogel

      Of the many outstanding national leaders in the twentieth century, only four who inherited countries in great turmoil modernized their nations by building new systems and initiating very rapid growth, causing transformations that continued after them: Atatürk in Turkey, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, Deng Xiaoping in mainland China, and Park Chung Hee in South Korea. Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong underwent great system changes and grew very swiftly, but in these societies the leverage to guide fundamental change came from powerful outsiders who controlled local developments: in Japan, from the Allied Occupation; in Hong Kong, from Great Britain’s colonial...

    • CHAPTER NINETEEN Reflections on a Reverse Image: South Korea under Park Chung Hee and the Philippines under Ferdinand Marcos
      (pp. 542-572)
      Paul D. Hutchcroft

      Park Chung Hee and Ferdinand Marcos were both born in 1917, came of age while their respective countries were under colonial rule, emerged as national leaders in the 1960s, and proclaimed martial law at virtually the same time in late 1972. The countries they ruled each had deep historical and economic ties with the United States and Japan, and in the postwar years both South Korea and the Philippines hosted major U.S. military bases and were strongly aligned with the West. In declaring martial law, the incumbent presidents claimed that harsh measures were necessary to defend against a range of...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY The Perfect Dictatorship? South Korea versus Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico
      (pp. 573-602)
      Jorge I. Domínguez

      Authoritarian rule established through an act of force, such as a military coup, poses several distinct challenges for the authoritarian ruler. The first is how to install the regime; that is, how to survive past the initial moments of the overthrow of the old regime in order to establish a pattern of rule that will last. This requires reducing the need for initial repression, unifying the coup leadership, and arranging for succession rules to stabilize and broaden the support coalition for the new dictator. A second challenge is the choice of institutional means. Will the new dictator delegate significant executive...

    • CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE Industrial Policy in Key Developmental Sectors: South Korea versus Japan and Taiwan
      (pp. 603-628)
      Gregory W. Noble

      A remarkable surge in the production and export of commodity manufactures dramatically lifted the standard of living in South Korea, and became one of the most enduring legacies of the Park era. By the end of Park’s rule, labor-intensive manufactures such as textiles were increasingly joined by capital-intensive heavy industrial goods.

      Explaining South Korea’s industrial accomplishment and placing it in comparative perspective is no easy task. Some authors have compared Korea, particularly under the second half of Park’s reign, to the bureaucratic authoritarian regimes of Latin America in the same period.¹ This perspective highlights the dilemmas of growth and the...

  9. Conclusion: The Post-Park Era
    (pp. 629-650)
    Byung-Kook Kim

    Park chung hee died on October 26, 1979. So ended his developmental era. Or did it? Given his great successes and dismal failures, and his profoundly effective but costly authoritarian way of rulership, it was inevitable that even after his death Park lived on as either a hero or a villain in South Korea’s politics. In the three decades after Park’s death, the memory of his powerful and controversial rule still towered over the country. In what can be called the “post-Park era,” allies and enemies still defined themselves and each other by their attitudes toward Park and his political,...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 651-736)
  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 737-738)
  12. List of Contributors
    (pp. 739-740)
  13. Index of Persons
    (pp. 741-744)