Social Scientist. v 13, no. 144 (May 1985) p. 19.


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GIRIJESHPANT*

Political Economy of'Korean Miracle9

TN SHARP CONTRAST to the virtual economic stagnation which prevails in.most part of the continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America, the pace of growth achieved in South Korea has naturally drawn the attention of the policy planners and decision makers in the Third World. Of late, the opinion seems to have gained currency that the Korean path can be the alternative model for the developing countries to break the poverty barrier. And many countries are changing the orientation of their economies. However, it appears that most often this inference is drawn by looking at the Korean phenomenon in a partial and one-sided manner. The high growth rate, the quantum leap in per capita income, the burgeoning manufacturing base and the high visibility of Korean products in the world market are no doubt the most vital and perhaps the glamorous aspect of the Korean story, but they certainly do not constitute the complete story. Along with these dazzling elements one has to reckon with the degree of dependence of Korea on external support—economic^ political and strategic—the dismal profile of agricultural output which has led to increasing imports of food, the lack of any significant break-through in national technological development and, last but not the least, the regimented nature of the political system. These are ^11 integral parts of the 'miracle' package and are closely linked with one another. In making a choice in favour of the Korean way, the entire basket will have to be accepted. One cannot be selective. It can, of course, be argued that these negative features are not confined to Korea alone. Many, if not most, of the developing countries possess these attributes, though in different measures. None of them however has achieved the pace of growth which Korean has. Nevertheless this mixed picture should not be ignored in assessing the Korean experience.

While recognizing the glamour of the Korean miracle, the limited purpose of this paper is to underline those aspects of the miracle which are generally underplayed. An attempt is also made to emphasise the context of the Korean success because it is possible that many factors which helped on the supply side in Korea may not be available to other developing countries; indeed even the context itself might have undergone

* Centre for West Asian & African Studies, School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.



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