Miracle from the Rhein to the Han River:heavy industrialisation of South Korea and its social consequences under Park Chung Hee

Han, Young Sue (2016) Miracle from the Rhein to the Han River:heavy industrialisation of South Korea and its social consequences under Park Chung Hee. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This thesis deals with the influence of German philosophical doctrines on the development of heavy industry in South Korea under president Park Chung Hee in the 1970s. It argues that Park’s dictatorship in the 1970s was an archetype of ‘technocratic heavy industrialisation’ with the goal to undergo a very compressed and rapid transition to a heavy industry based economy following the post-Vietnam War détente. Park’s political economy originates from a very German strategy in overcoming ‘systemic vulnerabilities: scarce natural resources and an ominous foreign security threat’. This was to be achieved through the imposition of a military-led authoritarianism and the mobilisation of the entire population in preparation for ‘total war’. In the 1930s and 1940s, political economy of techno-fascism was introduced in Manchuria by the Japanese Army, with German counsel, which was later emulated by the postwar Japanese government and Park’s regime in the 1970s. In the 1970s, Park needed to broaden his ruling coalition, with the military on one side and business on the other, in order to launch his program of heavy industrialisation. Park was also inclined to provide ‘side payments’ to the population to placate democratic militancy opposing his dictatorship. To achieve these goals, Park introduced the term ‘Miracle on the Rhein’ to describe West Germany’s postwar economic rise from the ashes as a model to follow for South Korea. With this economic model and based on German doctrines of total war that were refracted into Korea by way of Japanese colonisation Park introduced the techno-fascist institutions that were to overcome the South Korean predicaments of scarce resources and the Northern Communist security threat. This thesis addresses Park’s dictatorship in terms of mobilisation of national human capital and financial resources, allocation of mobilizeised resources to those specific sectors that accounted for heavy industrialisation, and the social consequences of these policies. To overcome developmental backwardness due to the country’s very late industrialisation, Park adopted Gerschenkron’s catch-up strategy in his pursuit of rapid industrial development. Park then deployed German doctrines and ideas in his pursuit of the industrial transition, which had a substantial impact on educational reform, the socio-economic order and property distribution in South Korea. This thesis shows that Park’s heavy industrialisation had fostered a state-business alliance and a political compromise between the elites and the emergent middle through the state’s intervention into the structure of property ownership while the skill-less labour class remained marginalizeised.

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Thesis (PhD)
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13 Apr 2016 10:08
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:18