You are currently viewing The miracle on the Han river

The miracle on the Han river

The miracle on the Han River is borrowed from the concept of ‘the miraculous transformation of West Germany into an advanced nation following its defeat in World War II.

“The miracle on the Han river”, The term originated from comparing South Korea to the Rhine River in Germany, where, despite the devastation of war, South Korea aspired to achieve similar rapid economic growth. Currently, this term is a symbolic representation of the rapid economic growth that occurred in South Korea over half a century, from the post-Korean War era to the Asian financial crisis. Along with Taiwan and Singapore, South Korea is known as one of the “Four Asian Tigers.

The miracle on the han river2

The Miracle on the Han River. Before that, it was truly miserable.

  • Context: Due to the period of Japanese colonial rule, South Korea’s economic situation was already poor, and the Korean War (June 25, 1950 – July 27, 1953) left the country completely devastated. North Korea continued to aim for reunification through constant military provocations even after the armistice agreement. This situation meant that another war could erupt at any moment. Furthermore, because of North Korea, South Korea effectively became an island nation, making logistics and transportation difficult. Consequently, attracting foreign investment became challenging. However, the return of the U.S. forces stationed in South Korea provided significant assistance. Alongside this fact, South Korea received investments from the United States and Japan.
  • Cold War: The world was divided into the capitalist bloc, led by the United States, and the communist bloc, led by the Soviet Union. South Korea, faced with the invasion of a communist regime, chose capitalism. South Korea became an ally of the United States during this time and received American support.
  • Resource Scarcity: While natural resources typically bring wealth to a nation, South Korea lacked abundant resources. Initially, the idea of making money by selling oil was far from possible. The saying ‘a single drop of oil does not come from this country’ reflects this reality.

However, this forced South Korea to adopt a different approach from other developing countries that focused primarily on the primary sector.

South Korea had no choice but to concentrate on the secondary sector. This ultimately had a significant impact on the development of manufacturing industries. Many other countries have also fallen victim to the resource curse.

  • History: After the armistice in 1953, South Korea faced a dire situation with a per capita GDP of only $67. To achieve growth with an emphasis on the industrial sector, South Korea made efforts such as producing sugar, which was previously unavailable. Rather than fixating on economic growth rates, South Korea focused on addressing hyperinflation and currency instability issues. From 1954, just after the end of the Korean War, until 1959, the South Korean economy grew at an average annual rate of 4.4%. This was relatively high compared to other developing countries at the time.
  • This period marked a high-growth era with an average growth rate of 8.5%. However, even though the economic growth was impressive, it was also a precarious and uncertain time with wide fluctuations and uncertainties. South Korea was a country where foreign exchange reserves could hit rock bottom at any moment.

During the development known as the Miracle on the Han River, there were many challenges and situations.

From the military coup on May 16 (5.16) to 1979, South Korea experienced several foreign exchange crises and bankruptcy crises. Even during Park Chung-hee’s regime, there were periods of negative growth, reaching 19%. Furthermore, after two consecutive oil shocks, inflation rates approached 20%. This differed significantly from other East Asian countries.

The Miracle on the Han River cannot be separated from the tireless efforts of the Korean people.

The Republic of Korea’s military participation in the Vietnam War, along with the roles of ‘Tiger Division Miners’ and ‘Tiger Division Nurses,’ played a significant part in modernizing the military and increasing foreign currency income. Additionally, the influx of foreign currency through workers’ participation in overseas heavy industries and ventures in the Middle East should not be overlooked.

Investing in education for the future, even in challenging circumstances, is a crucial factor.

Due to a high population density and the majority of the land being densely developed, there was a consistent growth in domestic consumption. This played a significant role in the economic growth of South Korea, particularly from the 1950s to the mid-1970s when, apart from the food industry, domestic consumption contributed more than exports, excluding heavy and machinery industries from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.

Subsequently, South Korea was able to make the leap from a developing country to an advanced nation.

The experts of that time believe that import substitution strategies for products such as cement, fertilizer, automobiles, appliances, and steel were effective. Additionally, an export-oriented strategy focusing on labor-intensive construction industries like textiles and labor-intensive construction was also considered a successful approach to development.

The late 20th century was a time that demanded a new and dynamic way of life.

At the time of liberation in 1945, the national income was a mere $45. It took tremendous effort and frugality for South Korea to grow its economy to the scale of $20,000. The spirit of hard work and savings poured in by the Korean people was remarkable. This gave rise to the myth of reconstruction and growth known as the ‘Miracle on the Han River.

The aftermath of rapid industrialization and urbanization was not insignificant.

However, alongside the dazzling economic growth, the public created a society that emphasized openness and pragmatism. The development of digital culture has brought about a transformation in everyday life. As popular culture flourishes, it continues to shape new forms of living, including lifestyle environments.

And based on the Miracle on the Han River, South Korea, which has grown, is now spreading beautiful culture and art to the world.

It’s what you see, hear, and feel.

답글 남기기