State Building in Korea: Continuity and Crisis

  • Bruce Cumings
Part of the Political Evolution and Institutional Change book series (PEIC)


In the early twenty-first century, the hierarchy of advanced industrial nations remains quite similar to what it was at the end of the nineteenth century: the leading economy today, the United States, was the most productive industrial power then; the leading economy then, the United Kingdom, remains a powerful industrial economy today, its size roughly comparable to France and Italy; Germany is still the economic powerhouse of Central Europe, as it was then.A century ago, Japan’s industrial prowess was just beginning to gain notice, however, and it would not become a major industrial power until the 1930s. A century ago, Korea had just begun to industrialize, something hardly anyone noticed, but today it is a major, fully industrialized country with state-of -the-art technology in many fields. Japan and Korea are striking examples of industrial development precisely because the new entrants to advanced industrial status are so few—or so familiar in their long-run continuity In 1900, a sage might have predicted this outcome for Japan, but no one but a clairvoyant would have picked Korea. South Korea’s growth thus strikes observers as rapid, unusual, even miraculous. So how did it happen?


Civil Society Civil Service Land Reform State Building Military Coup 
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Copyright information

© Matthew Lange and Dietrich Rueschemeyer 2005

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  • Bruce Cumings

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