By Tae Hoon Choe
The year was 1948 when South Korea declared its independence and became a proud country of its own. At first, South Korea didn’t have a sold government system, which led them to political instability and a very unstable economy. Under the autocratic leadership of Syngman Rhee, South Korea went through serious of turmoil, corruption and sorrow. After a decade of political discrepancies, in 1960 there was a movement called the student revolution, led by labor and student groups, which overthrew the autocratic regiment under Syngman Rhee. This granted a new minister called Heo Jeong to be elected and rule South Korea for two years. However, Heo Jeong was unable to accomplish much work due to the damage the previous minister has caused.
Decades went by and in 1993 a new president called Kim Young-sam was elected and he promised to build a “New Korea”. The government under Kim Young-sam set out to correct the mistake of the previous administrations. Ever since Kim Young-sam South Korea’s economy has been booming at an exponential rate, which led them to become one of the most influential countries in the world.
Modern day South Korea is extremely different from the South Korea that existed half a century ago. For 50 years, South Korea’s economy has grown by an average of seven percent annually. The population more than doubled from 21 million to 43 million and the GDP per capita far exceeds other developed nations such as New Zealand and Spain. South Korea is an emerging market and a very influential one. The country is wealthy, technologically advanced, mature democracy with an impressive record of innovation, economic reform and sound leadership. South Korea has a budget surplus of 0.7% of GDP and it has one the best IT technologies in the world. Not only that, South Korea had in place the building blocks for growth since the 1950s, an educated population, property rights, land reform and institutions of modern capitalism. When the right leader came to power, South Korea was able to take off and become an influential part of world economy.
Although South Korea has its positive sides, it also faces challenges. South Korea has a highly concentrated corporate sector, an again population, and politically dangerous neighborhood. Geographically, Korea finds itself squeezed among three titans: China, Japan, and Russia – a position that presents great challenges. Economically, the country is controlled at a dangerous stage. While its mighty manufacturing engine powered it to great heights in the last century, to thrive in the new one, it will need to develop and equally strong service sector. South Korea also has to develop a way to attract more investors from abroad. By doing so, it will be able to increase its economy immensely making it an even better country than it is currently.
Despite the negative aspects it faces, South Korea has developed immensely ever since the 1950s. The citizens of South Korea have worked extremely hard to put the country where it stands now. There were countless numbers of bumps on the road along the way, however they were able to stand where they are now due to the well built and firm building blocks of South Korea. In order for South Korea to grow even larger, it has to attract foreign investors and also develop a stronger service sector to match the highly concentrated corporate sector. This will allow South Korea to become an even more influential country in the near future.