** South Korean Tiger Economy: The Miracle on the Han

South Korean Tiger Economy: The Miracle on the Han (1970-2000)

Figure 1.--This is how Seoul looks today. Korea is one of the Tiger economies that led the embrace of capitalism and then joined by China and India that is reshaping the modern world. On only a little more than a single generation, some one billion people have been thrust from abject poverty to the prosperous middle class. It is not only greatest creation of wealth in all of human history, but the most rapid advance of human well being.

The results were staggering--The Miracke on the Han. The Han River flowed through Seoul. It stood in sharp contrast to the disaster on the Yalu to the north. A rich vibrant market economy with world class industry emerged in the south. This is amazing given what was left of South Korea after the Korean War. And doubly amazing given that the south was the poor, sagricultural part of Korea. The Communists in the north inherited the northern area with the resources that the Japanese industrialized. The Korean Economic miralcle is perhaps more surprising than the German and Japanese Economic Miralcles because it emerged in a basically poor agricultural country. And it began later than in Germany nd Japan, in fact while their economic miracles were well under way. South Korea emerged as one of the hugely successful Asian Tigers. Four Asian econonies diverged from the socialist policies adopted through the Third World--and the results were spectacular. The command economy in the North has brough economic decline, hunger, and repression. One Korean scholar writes, "The post colonial decades, when living standards improved rapidly in South Korea, while North Korea returned to the world of disease and starvation. The dramatic history of living standards in Korea presents one of the most convincing pieces of evidence to show that institutions — particularly the government — matter for economic growth." [Cha] One of the most dramatic expression of the differences between North and South Korea is night time satellite imagery. South Korea energes as a bright jewel of modernity while Koreas in the North are visually shown as living in a new Dark Age. Market capitalism in three decades transformed South Korea into one of the most modern prposperous coutries in Asia and Seoul was transformed into a sparkling global city, a major hub of business and finance. South Korea today is an modern nation rivaling Japan and Western Europe with an advanced technological and communications infrastructure.


Cha, Myung Soo. Yeungnam University. "The economic history of Korea," EH.net, undated, retrieved August 22, 2014.


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Created: 10:59 AM 6/5/2018
Last updated: 10:59 AM 6/5/2018