Human Development In South Korea

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Amongst this list of ‘very high human development’ countries, one fellow Asian country has shown soaring success over the past years. With a total population of about 50.3 million, Republic of Korea has shown major improvements since 1990s. South Korea has over the years jumped from a 0.731 HDI to 0.951 in the last decade. Republic of Korea has extensively invested in health and education over the years, resulting in life expectancy at birth of average 82.1 years and 16.6 expected years in schooling. Currently South Korea enjoys a per capita GDP of $34,384. 1. Despite the hit of 1990 Asian crisis, today South Korea, ranks 18th on the HDI due to its four stage plan of achieving 100 percent literacy, effective land reforms, market reforms and…show more content…
This eliminated illiteracy by the 1960s giving it a significant advantage compared to most Asian countries. Human capital is the foundation of a developed nation. One of the most understated economic factor is land reforms. It is extraordinarily important for growth and peace. In India, there is a major communist revolution in the hinterland due to the lack of land reforms there. Land reforms makes or breaks a nation. In Korea, key land reforms happened in late 1940s that built a significant middle class. It was partly done by the US who forced the Japanese land owners out and redistributed the property. Literacy and land reforms are necessary, but not sufficient conditions for growth. South Korea was still poor in 1960s, until the stage 3 in growth came. In fact, it was just rubbing shoulders with North Korea until then. Park Chung-Hee, the president cum dictator, forcefully took the country towards a freer market and opened up the economy. He also deepened the relationship with US and Japan. That's where you start seeing the curve moving up. [That said, there was a little more crony capitalism than true free market there - the family owned business conglomerates like Hyundai, LG and Samsung got a sizable share of government largesse that might have long term damage on…show more content…
Then, all the things about putting career over family bites. In short, demographic shift is a one-time growth lottery that Japan and Korea used well. However, the lottery's "high" wears off at some point and the hangovers are very severe. Japan is going through this painful process and South Korea has just started. Constant threat from North Korea. This keeps South Koreans on their toes giving them no opportunity to go lax. Lots of help from the US. At one point 60% of all investment came from the US. Of course, it doesn't hurt to be a US ally. Foreign Economic Relations - The difference from Middle East allies of US is that South Korea did make its citizens literate, give them land and open up the economy, without which US Aid would have been ineffective. South Korea's growth is a combination of quick achievement of 100% literacy that started in Japanese occupation, significant land reforms that created the middle class, significant market reforms that helped the middle-class trade with the world and a demographic one-time lottery. Most communist nations miss the stage 3 thus they are educated with land reforms with stunted growth. Many crony capitalist nations miss stages 1 & 2, thus they have a "free" market but without a populace that is educated and with land to make use of the market. South Korea ticked off all its

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