The South Korean Economy

Sunil Kim, Jonson Porteux

£60.00  |  $90.00
ISBN 9781788211987
£19.99  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788211994
£19.99  |  $30.00
ISBN 9781788212007
224 pages   |  210 x 148mm   |  25 August 2022


South Korea is one of only two Asian members of the OECD. With the tenth largest economy in the world, South Korea has achieved this remarkable level of economic development since its independence from Japan in 1945. Indeed, it has achieved this transformation, exceptional for any postcolonial state, despite one of the most brutal fratricidal conflicts fought since the Second World War. Sunil Kim and Jonson Porteux chart this astonishing economic and political development and explain the puzzle that is the South Korean economy.

The authors examine how South Korea has developed a highly innovative economy based on advanced technologies and infrastructure, counter-intuitively, despite a postcolonial legacy of military leaders and the lack of fully developed “free markets”. The longstanding family-owned and run industrial conglomerates – the chaebol – characteristic of the Korean economy are shown to have been behind the shift to high-tech industrialization, albeit under the strict influence of the state. The challenges of increased global interconnectedness (i.e. globalization), the precarious and fragile relationship with North Korea, the slowdown of domestic demand, recent assaults on the chaebol and their families, coupled with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, are furthermore addressed.

The book offers new insights and accessible frameworks for understanding the fascinating economic history and future trajectory of South Korea's political economy as well as the causes and consequences of industrialization and democratization more generally.


1. Introducing the South Korean economy
2. Explaining the South Korean “miracle”
3. The transformation of state-business relations
4. Making the economy: the state-labour nexus and the Korean miracle
5. Measuring the Korean economy
6. The Korean economy: the human factor
7. Consequences of economic development
8. Conclusion

Author Information

Sunil Kim is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Studies at Kyung Hee University, South Korea. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of California, Berkeley and his research interests are the social policies, democracy and political economy of Japan and Korea.

Jonson Porteux is an Associate Professor at Kansai Gaidai University in Osaka, Japan. He holds a PhD in political science from the University of Michigan and specializes in political economy, comparative politics, and international relations.

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