In this assignment I am going to discuss the main reasons for the rapid growth South Korea has experienced over the past forty years In addition to this, I will discuss the problems facing the country and suggest strategies to promote future economic prosperity. To do this, I will consider South Korea's:
Evolving comparative advantage
Technology policies and research and development expenditure
Educational system and policies
Technology import policies
I will also consider global developments including the South East Asian financial crisis of 1997 along with mega-trends caused by globalisation and technological developments.
Known as one of the four tigers of Asia, South Korea is located in Far East Asia with China and North Korea located across its borders. South Korea is ruled by Roh Moo-hyun who was elected president in December 2002 after narrowly beating rival candidate Kim Dae-Jung and has a population of around 48.3million. Some people regard the growth South Korea has experienced over the past forty years as a miracle' as GNP per capita in 1963 was only $100 compared to $9800 in 2002 (eighteen times larger than North Korea's) and is now the 12th largest economy in the world (www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/economy-of-south-korea).
Reasons for South Korea's economic growth
The significant growth of South Korea's economy since it became independent in 1945 began in the late 1960's with state policies providing the basis for successful late industrialisation. Park Chung Lee became president in 1961 and it was he that provided the economic strategy that started to lift South Korea out of poverty and transformed the economy into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. The strategy Park Chung Lee developed was based on that of South Korea's nearest rivals Japan rather than Western policy advisers. This would give South Korea a comparative advantage in modern technology and a large market near-by for Korean products. The emphasis on boosting exports was accompanies by the motivation of generating more income and employment and loosening the foreign exchange constraint on investment and economic growth. The help of raw materials and manufacturing such as plywood and textiles booming' in industry was the catalyst to the process. Low labour costs meant that companies became more and more competitive resulting in the Korean Won being massively devalued. The technology for making such products was acquired through suppliers, foreign buyers or from trade literature.
South Korea's late industrialisation was characterised by three factors:
Diversification relates to the penetration of new industries that South Korea began to explore rapidly, meaning industries began to expand just as quick as a result (www.oxfordscholarship.com/oso/content/economiesfinance). The 1970's saw clothing and footwear along with steel and chemical industries grow with the assistance of Korean involvement with continuous investment projects. The Pohang Iron Steel Company (POSCO) will be discussed in more detail later in the assignment. The South Korean government implemented policies that helped companies allocate their resources enhancing their technological capabilities. The Chaebol, South Korea's huge conglomerates were encouraged to diversify into heavy industries targeted by the governments five year plans (Journal reference World Development Vol 15 No. 6 p.762, Dahlman, Ross Larson and Westphal Managing Technological Development Lessons from the newly industrialised countries').
For the Korean government to maintain a level of economic activity used macro-economic policies. These included, the reduction in short-term interest rates in order to keep inflation consistently low with the exception of the 1997 crisis. To develop its industries, South Korea used deficit spending throughout the last thirty years and...
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