The Korean Economy at a Crossroad: Development Prospects, Liberalization, and South-North Economic Integration

The Korean Economy at a Crossroad: Development Prospects, Liberalization, and South-North Economic Integration

The Korean Economy at a Crossroad: Development Prospects, Liberalization, and South-North Economic Integration

The Korean Economy at a Crossroad: Development Prospects, Liberalization, and South-North Economic Integration

Synopsis

The ROK economy has experienced rapid growth in the last 30 years. Analyzing the important issues which have been raised by this growth is of interest to other developing areas of the world. The contributors to this work are well placed specialists in Korean studies in Korea and the United States. The ROK economy is located in the midst of the Pacific Basin, the most promising part of the developing world. Recently, the economy has moved into more highly sophisticated markets, as well as into the global financial markets. However, an increasing number of concerns have been raised, charging that the progress has been too rapid, too materialistic, and too inequitable. These criticisms have been compounded by the problems of political dissent and instability in the region.

Excerpt

Frequently, at international conferences, I hear a plaintive comment by economists from developing countries, "Why can't we be like South Korea?" There is no doubt that in the present generation, the economy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) is the envy of the developing world and a respected partner/competitor in the advanced industrial world.

The rok economy is firmly placed in the midst of the Pacific Basin, the most promising part of the developing world. the rok and its close partners/neighbors took off on growth paths during the 1970s and 1980s, accomplished when other oil-importing economies were struggling with inflation, debt service, poor productivity improvement, and stagnant living conditions. the Pacific Basin economies fared much better, especially the rok. the economy moved to higher levels of sophistication, entered world markets, established multinational enterprises, and gradually participated in global financial markets.

The chapters in this interesting volume describe the evolution of the Korean economy and throw a great deal of light on answers to the frequently posed question cited above. Other countries that want to emulate the Korean economic experience will have to develop the work ethic, the human skills, the educational system, the market organization, the security umbrella, and many other features that all come together in the story of successful economic progress.

There is concern expressed in some of the chapters that progress was too rapid, too materialistic, or too inequitable. These aspects have generated political change and some economic dynamics that raise doubts about where the Korean economy is going in the next phase. the current account surplus, which was being deployed, in part, to reduce indebtedness, turned recently to a current account deficit. Inflationary signals have appeared; the won has depreciated; exports are encountering an unfriendly phase of the world business cycle. For some, this appears as a crisis situation. For others, it is a . . .

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