Center for Korean Studies Colloquium Series

This event is free and open to the public. The Center for Korean Studies is located at 1881 East-West Road on the UH Mānoa campus. Paid parking is available mauka of the CKS building.

For further information, including arrangements for access for the handicapped, telephone 956-7041.

The Political Economy of Korea's Transition, 1961–2008

Jongryn Mo

Thursday, April 25, 2013
4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Center for Korean Studies Conference Room
1881 East-West Road
University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa


How do poor nations become rich, industrialized, and democratic ones? And what role does democracy play in this transformation? To address these questions, Jongryn Mo and Barry Weingast studied South Korea's remarkable transition since 1960. Explaining the Korean transition in their book, The Political Economy of Korean Transition, 1961–2008, they concentrate on three critical turning points: Park Chung Hee's creation of the development state beginning in the early 1960s, democratization in 1987, and the genesis and reaction to the 1997 economic crisis. At each turning point, Korea took a significant step toward creating an open access social order.

The dynamics of the transition hinge on developing greater openness in both economics and politics; that is, inclusion of a wide array of citizens rather than a narrow elite and access to organizations in both economics and politics. Korea's transition suggests that a society out of balance—that is, far more open in the economy than the policy—cannot sustain its development. The political economy system that followed each of the first two turning points proved unsustainable; in both cases, Korea could not overcome a mismatch between political and economic openness. The success story of Korean development is the story of how Korea has resolved repeated crises in favor of rebalancing and more political and economic openness.

Based on this research, Professor Mo will offer in this presentation a new view of how Korea—in contrast to nearly every other developing country—was able to maintain a developmental state with sustained growth and what role the security threat and bureaucratic meritocracy played in the developmental state.

Photo: Jongryn MoDR. JONGRYN MO is a professor in the Graduate School of International Studies at Yonsei University, vice-president for international affairs at Yonsei, and a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He earned his Ph.D. in political economics at Stanford and focuses his research on East Asian Development, global governance, and international political economy. He serves as a member of the Presidential Commission on National Competitiveness, and his essays have appeared in the Straits Times, the Wall Street Journal, Chosun Ilbo, and Donga Ilbo. He is also the author of numerous articles in scholarly journals.