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Asia's Next GiantSouth Korea and Late Industrialization$
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Alice H. Amsden

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780195076035

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0195076036.001.0001

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A History of Backwardness

A History of Backwardness

(p.27) Chapter Two A History of Backwardness
Asia's Next Giant

Alice H. Amsden (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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

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