From a per capita income of just US$80 in 1962, three times poorer at the time than North Korea, from 1965 to 1990, South Korea achieved an average growth of 9.9 per cent, the highest in the world. Today its per capita income is US$30 000, and a number of its companies are global market leaders.
A focus on early authoritari- anism under President Park Chung-hee as the reason for Korea’s rapid growth and transformation obscures the complex myriad programmes and tough deliberate choices made in the process. \
This involved, at its heart, the strategic re-orientation from protectionism to export-led growth and the rapid refocusing of society on competitiveness. Looking back, over nearly 60 years later, this seems logical and, following Southeast Asia’s subsequent development path, passé even. At the time it was revolutionary.
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