Where do high growth political economies come from? The Japanese lineage of Korea's "developmental state"

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While many scholars have sought to analyze South Korea's economic success, not enough attention has been paid to the impact of Japanese colonialism. Japanese colonial influence on Korea in 1905-1945, while brutal and humiliating, was also decisive in shaping a political economy that later evolved into the high-growth South Korean path to development. More specifically, three state- society characteristics that we now readily associate as elements of the South Korean "model" originated during the colonial period: Korean state under the Japanese influence was transformed from a relatively corrupt and ineffective social institution into a highly authoritarian, penetrating organization, capable of simultaneously controlling and transforming Korean society; production-oriented alliances involving the state and dominant classes evolved, leading up to considerable expansion of manufacturing, including "exports" and the lower classes in both the city and the countryside came to be systematically controlled by the state and dominant classes. While there were important discontinuities following WWII, when the dust settled, South Korea under Park Chung-Hee fell back into the grooves of colonial origins and traveled along them, well into the 1980s.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1269-1293
Number of pages25
JournalWorld Development
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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