Historical Determinants of Growth

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HistoricalDeterminants of Growth

Thechapter is geared to explore the factors that have led to thedevelopment of the economic growth in South Korea, focusing on theimplications of the country’s colonialism. The economy of SouthKorea has been referred to as a tiger economy and here the growth ofthe economy is examined especially the impact of the Japaneseimperialism during the mid of the twentieth century. History isimportant for economic growth since there are some historical eventsthat have a significant impact on the economic development as well asits performance. South Korea has seen changes that have transitionedthe economy from the once peasant economy to the current tigereconomy in the East Asia region.

Koreaas a whole unit has experienced imperialism from the late nineteenthcentury to the mid of the twentieth century, where the country hasfought against the Japan government, has been fought over betweenJapan and China as well as between Japan and Russia. The UnitedStates and other western powers had allied together with Korea andthey had signed several treaties of Friendship. Japan had taken toforcing Korea to sign treaties that generally favoured Japan whichopened up Korea for extraterritoriality. After the Russo-Japan wasbrought to an end through negotiations, Japan was given theconcession. It was at that time that Korea was annexed to Japan.Until the mid-19th century, China and Japan had beenisolationist allowing little trade with the West when they came underpressure to open up to foreign relations as well as trade with theWestern powers (Klien). Japan gave in and as a result, there was themodernization of the country technologically and military wise unlikeChina who was left behind and failed to be modernized. Korea likeJapan had seen economic development and modernization.

At the beginning of the colonial period, there was aggressivesuppression of any of the national movements however, the countrywas also transformed in governance as well as economically. Beforethe colonialization of Korea, the country had been given direction bythe current government, having electricity, trolleys as well as goodinfrastructure. The invasion by the Japan has been shown to have onlyserved the Japan and left unforgettable memories in the minds of theKoreans. Japan colonial rule brought about more negative consequencesthan the positive ones. Korea was not in a good position however,the arrival of Japan worsened the situation. The high taxes and fixedcrop prices were forced upon the Koreans and many farmers opted tomove to Japan as laborers. Japan brought about any progress inenergy, agriculture, transportation as well as monetary controlsectors, only to use the country for its conquest of Asia.

Japanput in policy measures that modernized Korea by improving andextending the transportation infrastructure as well as the healthsector. There was the introduction of modern medicine and there was asignificant decline in mortality and thus life expectancy increased.The colonial rule put in place industrial policies that aimed toincrease the rice supply. Due to the increased rice supply, pricesfell during the twenty’s and thirty’s which was also the start ofthe agricultural depression. There was a shift of focus fromagriculture to manufacturing and mining and it was the sectors thatpushed the economy of Korea to grow during the colonial rule. Whilethe country’s economy grew, only the Japanese gained the riches andvery few Korean felt those benefits since they had menial labor andin the administration of politics or economy, the Japanese held theprominent positions while the Koreans had the lowest and poor payingjobs (Amsden, p54-88). Upon leaving the colony, the country was leftin chaos having no administration structure. It was only due tochange of policies in the sixty’s that Korean economy has turned anew leaf.


Amsden, Alice.&quotSecuring the Home Market: A New Approach to KoreanDevelopment.&quot

Learning from the South Korean Developmental Success. PalgraveMacmillan UK, 2014. 54-88.

Klien, Susanne.Rethinking Japan`s identity and international role: anintercultural perspective.

Psychology Press, 2002.