Democracy and the Korean Economy: Dynamic Relations

Wednesday, December 23, 1998

The Korean economy has been one of the success stories of the postwar economic development. One of the poorest countries in the 1960s, Korea rose to become, by 1996, the eleventh-largest economy in the world, with a per capita income of more than $10,000.

Essential features of the so-called Korean model of economic development are an export-led industrialization strategy, exclusion of labor, authoritarian rule, and a cultural emphasis on education and hard work. This Korean model, however, began to unravel in 1987 when one pillar, authoritarianism, started to crumble under popular pressure for democracy; the Korean economy has since undergone fundamental transformations.

This book describes and explains the effect democratic change has had on Korean economic policy and its economy. It explains how conflicts over economics have evolved in major policy areas and which economic factors have been important in resolving these conflicts. Democracy and the Korean Economy is

  • A timely and comprehensive overview of the impact of democratic transition on economic performance in South Korea.
  • The first book to analyze the economic impact of democratic change in South Korea.
  • An explanation of the effect democratization has had on Korean economic policy and its economy.
  • A careful delineation of the pattern of policy change in major policy areas instead of a sweeping generalization about the relationship between democracy and economic growth.
  • A close look at specific industries and chaebols (large business conglomerates) that analyzes their market position and political influence under both the earlier authoritarian regime and the democratizing regime.
  • An authoritative study of a new model of Korean political economy. The old Korean model of economic development was valid twenty years ago; Korea has undergone a fundamental political transformation since 1989, and there are few studies on how that process has changed the Korean economy.

Copyright 1998.

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