Not until 1960, the condition of South Korea was like underprivileged African state. How can the state that got food aid from Nepal until 1970s emerged as 13th largest economy in the world? How was this magical economic development possible in just three decades? It was a matter of concern and inquisition to us who went to the South Korea for Study tour in Asar. North Korea and South Korea diffused after they got independence from the claws of Japanese empire in 1945. The boundary was set for geography and people. But still one cannot differentiate between the North Korean and South Korean. After their segregation, North Korea was aided by Soviet Union and South Korea was helped by America. After the battle with Japan, North Korea lost millions of lives its own battle. The border is enclosed between them. Many people have their husband, wife, brothers, and sisters across the border for years.
Despite having political problems South Korea stands as one of the largest exporter industrial and electronic products. South Korea doesn’t have its own natural resources, raw materials and minerals. Industrialist Guun Hoh said, ‘30 years ago we used to work in the Saudi Arabian and German industry as labor. We brought skills and remittance and we invested them here.’ He also added, ‘we want the Nepalese who have come to Korea to do the same.’ In South Korea Park Chung Hii is considered as the father of economic revolution. After 1961, he committed to win over the North Korean economy and invested the remittance for highway and industrial development. With his belief that Korea can only develop through export oriented industrial development. Today Korea is prosperous through the export of electronic items and other industrial products. Now Korea is challenging the economic giants like China and Japan.
Is democracy necessary for economic development?
If we look at the developed nations in the world, we see recession (poverty). Economic development was possible in China, Singapore although there was not political freedom but economic development did not happen for long time in the countries like India, Philippines where there was political freedom.
In market perspective, China is not as open as India. China is also not as open as India in terms of politics. This shows that only political freedom cannot lead to economic development. Japan, Korea and America have taken democracy and development together to a large extent but one cannot say South Korea has a complete democracy.
If political parties are very powerful in democracy, they are more liable to jeopardize the good governance of the state. They may be considered powerful for a moment when the take control of the law but gradually they turn powerless leading state to be weak. That is why political parties should be cooperative to good governance and South Korea. Everything will be messed up when party power tries to destroy South Korea. South Korean workers are considered as the most laborious people in the world. Most of them work (446 may be incorrect) a week. If they don’t complete the work, they work without thinking about the time. However, some people feel proud for the leaders who are attributed for South Korean economic development and some people feel ashamed. More than six decades of the formation of South Korea, it experienced democratic, military and autocratic regimes. Only after 1988, democracy was institutionally developed.
There is debate whether to prioritize development or equality. The Korean is in the belief that unemployment, inequality and development walk together and overt development minimizes inequality and unemployment but cannot eliminate them. It was not easy for Korea whose per capita income was 2300 $ in 70s now rocketed to 32800$. But today the concept of development has changed. Industrial development and economic growth are not only indicators of development but the inequality in pre-requisites like education, health, employment for prospering population also come under the measurement of development.
Whether to be rich or happy?
There is difference between being rich and being happy. 90% of the people in Scandivian countries like Norway and Switzerland whereas Americans are 70/75% happy. But a survey showed only 36% population in South Korea is happy. Everyday 35 Koreans commit suicide. People work without considering days and nights. So there is challenge for Korea to increase happiness among the Korean along with economic growth. But unlike Nepali, they don’t want to be happy without doing work. They say that they want to enjoy their work of their choice and feel happy for being successful. Until people consider work as burden, neither they will be not happy nor state. Good result cannot be expected without necessary hard work and attempt. Our culture, history, education, politics didn’t teach us about being industrious rather taught us to talk, to deliver speech and to many extent, they taught us to get employed but they didn’t develop the culture to be self employed and to be an employer. Despite having such potentiality and resources, Nepal is back due to this, if we watch Korea.
The former presidents of South Korea, Chun Du Han and Ro Te Hu were alleged and imprisoned for corruption. Another former president No Muh Chayaan was also alleged for receiving a 100,000 $ gift from his wife. He was interrogated for around 10 hours and he couldn’t overcome that leading him to commit suicide. According to local human right activist Lee, all of the presidents of South Korea or their family members, till now, have been blamed in charge of corruption. ‘There is corruption here and punishment too, that is why there is development’, Lee said.
We asked how come corruption and development move together. He credited to two-year-termed powerful bureau of investigation for corruption.’ It can even investigate office of the president at any instance’ he said. We reached to Kimay to watch the museum of former president Mu Chyaan. We found him to be a son of poor family who became judge from a lawyer. There was military government when he was a judge. He gave resignation from his post saying that he cannot give fair justice staying in military government and led the peasant revolution. He was elected as representative in the election but he was not satisfied by the work of representatives and he hit a representative with his shoes then resigned and then again rejoined the revolution. Later he got victory in the presidential election.
South Korea reached to the pinnacle in terms of economic development and modernization during his regime from 2003 to 2008. Ban Ki Moon was able to be the General Secretary of UN through his efforts. Korean people still remember his struggling personality. His suicide for accepting an expensive gift from his wife danced in my brain. Question germinated in my mind, how much pain indeed, would decent person feel if he is charged of corruption?
It takes at least 7 years for higher education but vocational education takes only two years. If an individual is given professional and vocational education then it would be easier for him/her to get employed and industrial area will get skill manpower. This at one hand, leads to the less investment from the state and at the other hand, saves the time. Most of the students in South Korea take skill oriented education. The private education sector is very expensive here. Unlike us they don’t prepare students to go abroad. Skill manpower for own country is the feeling there. The investment for agriculture, higher education and research is more than that of America. The construction of agricultural cooperatives by partition of land, rural development through Somolonmo program which seems like the developed form of ‘Aafno gaaun aafai banau’ (make your village yourself) of Nepal. There is a country wide network of railway and airway. When we discussed about 16 different standards of development, South Korea exceeded America and Japan in 10 of them. The state provides all the prerequisites and land for industrial investment.
We think number of times when we have to spend our money but neglect to the government investment. But in Korea, there would be a great discussion while preparing budget and investment. Koreans are never left behind in economic development after 1988 Seoul Olympic and after the establishment of democratic system in the regime.
The belief of democratization and accountability of state structures can only strengthen democracy has led South Korea to the pinnacle of development. Behind South Korea development and prosperity, we can easily experience that party and leaders keep changing but structures should be strongly built.