The Japanese Colonial Legacy In Korea
North and South Korea are nations that while filled with contempt for Japan have used the foundations that Japan laid during the colonial period to further industrialization. Japan's colonization of Korea is critical in understanding what enabled Korea to industrialize in the period since 1961. Japan's program of colonial industrialization is unique in the world. Japan was the only colonizer to locate various heavy industry is in its colonies. By 1945 the industrial plants in Korea accounted for about a quarter of Japan's industrial base. Japan's colonization of Korea was therefore much more comparable to the relationship between England and Ireland then that of European colonization of Asia or Africa. Japan's push to create colonial industry lead Japan to build a vast network of railroads, ports, and a system of hydro- electric dams and heavy industrial plants around the Yalu River in what is now North Korea. The Japanese to facilitate and manage the industrialization of a colony also put in place a strong central government.
Although Japan's colonial industrialism in Korea was aimed at advancing Japanese policies and goals and not those of the Korean populace; colonization left Korea with distinct advantages over other developing countries at the end of World War Two. Korea was left with a base for industrializing, a high level of literacy, experience with modern commerce, and close ties to Japan. Japan's colonial heavy industrial plants were located primarily around the Yalu River in North Korea. Because of this the North had an edge in industrialization. For many years the North had the fastest growth rates of the communist countries, and its cities were on par with those of Eastern Europe. It was not until the early 1970's that the South surpassed the North in levels of industrialization. Because most of the heavy industrial plants were either located in North Korea or destroyed by the...
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