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Collection of Research

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Collection of Research
Discover Korea in Public Administration
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published byKIPA
dateOctober 2011
Without it, Korea (hereafter Korea refers to South Korea) would not have accomplished its much-touted growth from an economic backwater to a world-envied industrial power. Without it, Korea would not be able to claim bragging rights for having achieved a dynamic democracy. ‘It’ is public administration. Beneath Korea’s phenomenal social and economic achievement lies public administration. Public administration provided a basis for the Korean people to work relentlessly armed with a unique ethic of the can-do spirit. Public administration sowed the seeds of Korea’s marvelous development.
This book seeks to answer the puzzle of how administrative mechanisms have worked to see Korea emerge as a major global economic powerhouse out of the ruins of a war-torn peasant country. Korea also can serve as a useful model from which other aspiring industrializing countries can learn.
For example, think of its personal income. Korea is one of the 10 top richest countries in the world: US$20,759 in per capita income, $1 trillion in GDP (Gross Domestic Product), economic growth of 6.2 percent and the world’s seventh largest exporter. Korea’s foreign exchange reserves reached $300 billion as of the end of April, 2011. Foreign reserves consist of securities and deposits denominated in overseas currencies, along with International Monetary Fund (IMF) reserve positions, and special drawing rights and gold bullion. This is Korea’s 2010 economic scoreboard. This is Korea today.
Korea had ranked below Ethiopia, Ghana, and the Philippines in personal income six decades ago. Korea was a synonym for poverty. Unlike other countries on the list of rich nations which have grown into today’s economic powerhouses that possess abundant natural and human resources, Korea has emerged from obscurity, or to be more exact, poverty to take its place among the economic powers. It has made something from nothing.
Korea is globally praised as a country that has successfully joined the ranks of the world’s top traders. Korea’s nation-building efforts have no doubt succeeded in the midst of abject poverty and scarce resources. Korea’s success is unimaginable given the adversities that haunted it. Much-talkedabout are the remnants of a 35-year Japanese forcible occupation, diehard ideological conflicts, national division, the three-year Korean War, neverending communist invasion threats, and two rounds of global financial crises.
Extraordinary circumstances, typified by the twin menaces of communist invasion and poverty, called for unusual measures to surmount obstacles. Korea’s leadership has been president-centered with the Chief Executive always at the apex of the government, often calling for popular unity in the face of trials and crises.
In 2010, Korea had a central role as host of the G20 Summit in Seoul, a broad global forum of 20 major advanced and newly-emerging economies. Korea’s role was emphasized as an intermediary between the principal economic powers and developing nations. Korea’s position was upgraded as a global industrial leader in the international community through the display of its brilliant economic performance over one half-century. Korea’s status has changed from the classification of aid recipient to that of aid donor.
The dramatic development from the Korea of shattered cottage industries devastated by war to the industrial giant and representative democracy of today is a success story and textbook for late-coming developing countries. Korea’s story is an epic of national heroes and heroic leadership for social organization.
Korea is an exemplary nation that successfully utilizes public administration as a primary vehicle to lead national development through prompt coordination of conflicts among all interest groups, especially related to non-public institutions. In modern history, Korea has succeeded in becoming one of the most dramatic examples of rapid and profound socioeconomic transformation due to the strength of public administration. In just a single generation, Korea changed almost completely. Korea is a good student that learned industrialization through administrative performance.
The role played by public administration in modernizing Korea was exquisitely presented by Amsden. Her book details the Korean government’s intervention and coordination of corporate interests in spurring the national economy.
What the academy and developing nations at present need is an empirically relevant theory and presentation of both the general paradigm of national development and its special variants–as particularly found in Korea. The key features of Korea as a specific example of late industrialization through learning include direct administrative intervention with subsidies such as low-interest government loans, low-cost land, and start-up tax exemptions to stimulate the economy and the framing of performance standards for private firms.
This book will examine how the power of public administration, namely the chief executive leadership and bureaucratic establishment, has made go-between efforts among the administration and private sector, a key matrix for national development. This occurred through combining various functional elements of the work of a chief executive, as often mentioned in Luther Gulick’s classical public administration theory “POSDCORB”, which stands for planning, organizing, staffing, directing, coordinating, reporting and budgeting.
We wish to thank contributors of the Korea Institute of Public Administration (KIPA) for writing articles related to public administration based on their extensive research and experimental theories. We owe an especially large debt of gratitude for their insights into Korean public administration. KIPA researchers Lee Ji-young and Lee Eunhye were tireless in searching data and designing this book.
When all is said and done, the warmth of understanding for this publication shown by the Prime Minister’s Office and the National Research Council for Economics, Humanities, and Social Sciences (NRCS), is and will be remembered with a renewed sense of appreciation.
Editors: Eung-kyuk Park (President of the Korea Institute of Public Administration) Chang-seok Park (KIPA Research Fellow)

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