Recasting Park Chung Hee’s Authoritarianism: Myths, Reality and Legacies

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Chapter 3 demystifies the Park Chung Hee model of economic development that has been held up as an ideal developmental state model to achieve high economic growth with equity. Many have praised Park Chung Hee for his wise and timely choice of optimal developmental strategy based on a state-led export platform. However, the so-called “Korean miracle” was in fact, I argue here, not miraculously achieved. Rather, it came about because of a combination of endogenous and exogenous factors. Even though Park deserves credit for generating endogenous development by timely choosing the optimal developmental strategy, the miraculous development in Korea was also due to many exogenous factors such as Japanese colonial legacies, benevolent American hegemony, the successful land reform and Confucianism, which emphasizes human capital.

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