Modern Korean Society: Its Development and Prospect

Modern Korean Society: Its Development and Prospect

Modern Korean Society: Its Development and Prospect

Modern Korean Society: Its Development and Prospect

Synopsis

This volume serves as a comprehensive survey textbook on modern Korean society for use by students and teachers alike. The chapters provide discussion on key issues of modern Korean studies, including regionalism, inequality, and division. The common theme is the influence of Korea's unique traditional elements on the modernization process and the country's prospects for the future.

Excerpt

Hyuk-Rae Kim

The forced opening of Korea to the Western world in the latter half of the nineteenth century thrust it into a dynamic process of modernization. One brief century has wrought significant political, economic, and social change in Korea, largely through such dramatic events as an onerous period of repressive colonization and the Korean War. Soon after the end of Japanese colonialism, the destructive civil war that ensued divided Korea into two hostile states—the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) and the Republic of Korea (South Korea). in 1953, when the armistice that called for cessation of hostilities was signed, the ravages of that war had turned the peninsula into an impoverished, pale shadow of its traditional agrarian form. a rapid series of reforms and measures in both North and South Korea have since profoundly affected their respective social infrastructures.

South Korea (hereafter, Korea) has significantly focused on three major national projects: economic development (H. R. Kim and Fields in this volume), political democratization (D. Kim and H. R. Kim in this volume), and national reunification (Cumings in this volume). At considerable social cost, seven consecutive fiveyear economic plans implemented from the early 1960s to 1997 under authoritarian regimes elevated Korea as a “model country” of the East Asian miracle or capitalist model (Fields in this volume; Kim et al. 2000). State intervention in economic governance was a crucial force in this advance, but that same intervention impeded the growth of civil society and democracy (Choi and Lim 1993; H. R. Kim 2003; S. Kim 2000; Lim and Choi 1997; Koo, ed. 1993; ksa and kpsa, eds. 1992). Successive authoritarian regimes until the 1987 Democratic Movement selectively co-opted capital interests to forge a developmental coalition and con-

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