Lessons of Korea for emerging economies

Authored by: Bernhard J. Seliger

Handbook of Emerging Economies

Print publication date:  March  2014
Online publication date:  March  2014

Print ISBN: 9781857436709
eBook ISBN: 9780203108765
Adobe ISBN:


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In the 1960s the Republic of Korea’s (South Korea) president Park Chung-Hee, among other things influenced by a visit to Germany in 1964, embarked on the building of the first national motorway, from Seoul to Busan, linking the two economic centres of the poor South Korea until now dependent on foreign aid and still devastated by the war. A major international institution (the World Bank) called this plan utopian, calling attention to some basic missing ingredients for such a large project: there was no major construction industry with experience in such large-scale projects, no steel industry, no car industry and, accordingly, even if the project succeeded, no traffic could be expected on the planned highway. Today, Korea is one of the major international contractors for construction projects, with a number of heavyweights in the industry, has a world-leading steel factory and indeed a whole steel city (Posco in Pohang), is one of the leading car manufacturers of the world and among the largest trading nations. A veritable journey from rags to riches.

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