The Aborted Confucian Reformation in Korea's Incipient Modernization

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Kim, KyongDong

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Institute of Economic Research, Seoul National University
Seoul Journal of Economics, Vol.1 No.3, pp. 313-356
TasanChong YagyongNeo-Confucianism
If Korea, by any measure, qualifies as a miracle worker insofar as her recent economic performance is concerned, the phenomenon is sufficiently interesting to call for some good explanations. One of the familiar arguments advanced of late has been that it must be due to her cultural tradition, particularly the Confucian heritage. This revelation apparently has its source in the fact that all the East Asian countries, ranging form Japan to Singapore, that have managed to achieve unprecedented rapid economic growth in the past few decades share a common cultural background in Confucianism. I should remind the reader, however, that there has been a curious turnabout over the years in the intellectural disposition toward thisvery same traditional element and its role in modernization in this region. Before these countries suffering from chronic poverty and backwardness, manifested any sign of economic modernization, the villain easily blamed for the miserable lack of development used to be none other than their Confucian tradition. Now that they have accomplished something rather unexpected of societies with such a cultural heritage, the nasty stare has suddenly turned into a cozy smile.
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College of Social Sciences (사회과학대학)Institute of Economics Research (경제연구소)Seoul Journal of Economics (SJE)Seoul Journal of Economics vol.01(3) (Fall 1988)
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