A History of Backwardness

Alice H. Amsden

in Asia's Next Giant

Published in print June 1992 | ISBN: 9780195076035
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199870691 | DOI:
A History of Backwardness

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This chapter examines how late industrialization in South Korea was at first retarded by a state too weak to intervene and stimulate capital expenditures. It also takes the position that when industrialization began to accelerate, it did so in response to government initiatives and not to the forces of the free market. The Korean state was able to consolidate its power in the 1960s because of the weakness of the social classes: workers were a small percentage of the population, capitalists were dependent on state largesse, the aristocracy was dissolved by land reform, and the peasantry was atomized into smallholders. The behavior of the Korean state became influenced by two forces outside the class structure: the student movement and the American occupation forces. The student movement kept the new government relatively honest, and the American occupation forces drove the Korean military toward developmentalism, the only realistic course to reduce dependence on American support.

Keywords: American occupation; economic development; economic growth; government control; late industrialization; social class; South Korea; students

Chapter.  11540 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Economic Development and Growth

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