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Park Chung-hee transformed South Korea in the aftermath of the Korean War. Discuss

Uploaded by Kerrytom on Aug 10, 2013

Park Chung-Hee is a very controversial figure in Korean history. One the one hand he was a harsh authoritarian dictator who’s regime adopted repressive measures to suspend the democracy and disregard the human rights of the South Korean people. However, he is also credited as being the man who rebuilt South Korea after the devastation of the Korean War. Through his vision and forceful conviction he transformed a people who had traditionally valued poetry and ceremony over manual labour into a cohesive nation of workaholics. In order to fully understand Park’s successes in transforming South Korea we must first understand the conditions which existed in the country before he came into power and then explore what measures he put in place to create the transformation of South Korea.

When he assumed power in 1961, South Korea was the most threatened country in the world. It had been devastated by the Korean War just a few years previously, its economy was one of the poorest in the world and it was thought at the time that it could not become economically viable, unless North and South Korea were unified. “James W. Morley wrote in 1965 that South Korea had still not ‘taken off’: ‘it has made little progress. It has remained politically unstable and economically prostrate.......The day when it can be more of a ward of the United States not only has not dawned but cannot know be foreseen.’” South Korea also faced a formidable opponent. North Korea had greater natural resources, superior industrial power, was seemingly more politically stable and had the backing of China and the Soviet Union. “North Korea was growing and industrializing rapidly, with its people better fed and housed than ever before.”

In contrast to Syngman Rhee, a predecessor to Park Chung-Hee, Park was committed to a vision of national wealth and power through economic development. Rhee was more interested in increasing the military might of South Korea, so the economic development of the country was not his main priority. Kim Il Sung was also focusing massively on military superiority in the North, so obviously Park could not deprioritize the military might of South Korea to a large extent. “Park shared Syngman Rhee’s virulent anti-Communism; however, unlike Rhee he had a clear vision and plan for the economic development of the country. He believed that development was the key to moving Korean society forward, but...

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Uploaded by:   Kerrytom

Date:   08/10/2013

Category:   History

Length:   9 pages (1,988 words)

Views:   1615

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