Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats, and Generals in South Korea

Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats, and Generals in South Korea

Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats, and Generals in South Korea

Troubled Tiger: Businessmen, Bureaucrats, and Generals in South Korea

Synopsis

This unauthorized biography of Korea, Inc. provides the inside story of one of the world's fastest growing economies and its tumultuous struggle to break into the ranks of the developed world. Drawing on extensive interviews, the author paints a vivid portrait of the tensions between government and business and within the government since 1961.

Troubled Tiger mixes an anecdotal, readable account of the dramatic rise of the Korean economy with an in-depth analysis of the economic choices Korea faced and made under former presidents and ex-generals Park Chung Hee, Chun Doo Hwan, and Roh Tae Woo and of the tremendous costs of that growth. It also details the huge changes that have been roiling the Korean economy with the emergence of a more democratic government under President Kim Young Sam.

Excerpt

Enrich the Nation and Strengthen the Army.

--Park Chung Hee

Wearing a suitably conservative dark suit, seventy-seven-year-old Chung Ju Yung sat quietly in the courtroom, looking as if he were just another businessman caught up in the usual sorts of commercial disputes that perpetually filter through the court.

In reality, Chung's trial was one of the more remarkable events in Korea in the past thirty years. The founder and the chairman of the Hyundai group, one of the world's biggest corporations, sat in a Seoul courtroom in late 1993 because he had dared to challenge the established order in Korea, one that held that government mandarins should rule the affairs of business and workers. Chung Ju Yung was a businessman but he was also a revolutionary, for this former peasant wanted nothing more than to pull down the old order, to change the twisted Confucian rules of Korea, Inc., which decreed that business exists to serve the government. The judge's sentence reflected the gravity of the threat: three years in prison.

It might seem strange in a country that to all outward appearances is a showplace of capitalist development that a businessman like Chung Ju Yung could spark this sort of political retribution, one clearly designed to force his company back into line. But Chung's humiliation is telling. Although Korea, Inc. is celebrated as a successful example of a business--government partnership, the reality is that of a chronically strained alliance. Government officials have always believed that they should enjoy the upper hand and that business exists at the sufferance of--and often to do the bidding of--government. And relations . . .

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