Political Economy of Heavy Industrialization

Abstract

This two-part case is based on the history of South Korean development in the 1960s and 1970s. Designed for a course in the political economy of development, it focuses upon Korea's struggle to establish a modern, integrated steel mill—a highly political decision, which bordered on economic irrationality. This case depicts a story of success at a great personal cost to the nation and is an ideal introduction to the 'state or market' argument in development.

The roles of states/industrial policy are very controversial today; "Political Economy" will familiarize students with this dichotomy and encourage them to think about and assess the arguments on each side. Refreshingly, this case is presented from a structuralist/revisionist viewpoint, in comparison to the contemporary orthodoxy of neoclassical economics.

This case is suitable for a class on international relations. It makes students aware of postwar international relations in Northeast Asia with a particular reference to global security issues and their impact on a small country. Some familiarity with the 'state or market' argument and industrial policy will be helpful to classroom discussions. Additionally, some basic knowledge about the prewar and postwar international relations in East Asia will deepen students' understanding of the case.

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