Villages Astir: Community Development, Tradition, and Change in Korea

By John E. Turner; Vicki L. Hesli et al. | Go to book overview

2
The Research Terrain

Korea is a country reconstructed and renewed. Its primitive economy has been converted into a rapidly modernizing system, whose pace of growth--an economic miracle--is unmatched by other nations that were also classified as developing a half a century ago. Sustaining high levels of economic growth, the Korean people are now wrestling with the problem of how to modernize their political system. Of primary concern to us is the response of the people in the countryside to Korea's rapid advance.


RESEARCH QUESTIONS

In designing the project, we formulated a series of research questions that we wanted to address. In the course of study, we were able to secure tentative answers to most of them, although for a few the data were not as revealing as for others. In the sections to follow, we present in pristine form the questions that were of concern to us.


Economic Growth and Political Development

In order to upgrade the standard of living for the population and to become more competitive in the international arena, Korea's leaders, especially since the 1960s, have consistently emphasized the dual processes of modernization and development. In an attempt to bring the agrarian population into the national plan, the leadership instituted the Saemaul Ŭndong (New Community Movement).

If development is defined simply as movement over time toward a desired state, primarily economic in nature, then Korea, like other countries, can be seen as incrementally proceeding toward desired goals ( H.S. Park, 1984: 49- 52). But if development is defined more precisely to include both economic growth and participant political behavior, it is possible to measure levels of

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