The Korean Story: Secrets of an Economic Miracle
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assignment Level : Intermediate
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About the content

The Korean Story discusses the socio-political and historical context that has shaped the economic growth of South Korea. It probes into how South Korea, post the Second World War, was able to transform its economy within three decades to emerge as a leading innovation and technology center in the 21st century.

It highlights South Korea’s current status in terms of human development indicators and the SDGs and offers insights on how other countries can achieve similar growth stories with structured reform and policy measures.

The course features modules from leading Korean experts in economics, politics, education, health, gender empowerment, rural development, and transportation. The eminent thought-leader in economics and sustainable development, Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs , presents the introductory module about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), focusing on the Korean experience of setting goals and targets to achieve them.

The Korean Story: Secrets of an Economic Miracle was developed and produced by the KDI School of Public Policy and Management , in partnership with the SDG Academy.

  • How South Korea achieved spectacular economic growth within three decades (1962-1992) of the Korean War (1950-53)
  • What lessons may be leveraged from the Korean experience of achieving the SDGs
  • Why and how human capital development, especially in early education, health and gender reform matter
  • Korea's rich socio-political history, culture, the Saemaul Movement, and more

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Module 1: Introduction
An introduction to the SDGs and South Korea’s experience of mobilizing partnerships for achieving them.

Module 2: The Korean Economic Miracle: Its Secrets & Lessons
An overview of Korea’s reforms that spearheaded its economic and financial growth.

Module 3: Achievements of the Korean Rural Saemaul Movement
The rise of the Saemaul Movement, its motivations andhow it was implemented at the local level.

Module 4: Health Policy and Universal Health Coverage
A scrutiny of Korea’s health policy, which includes universal health coverage, immunization programs, establishing public health centers and providing national health insurance for all.

Module 5: Accumulating Human Capital for Sustainable Development in Korea
A bird’s-eye view into the three pillars of human capital in Korea: expansion of educational opportunities, skill-building and combating brain-drain.

Module 6: The Role of Women in Korean Development
A review of the status of women in Korea's history and how women’s rights and political participation came about.

Module 7: Trade, Industry, and Competition

How trade, industry, and competition have facilitated Korea’s growth and structural transformation from a basic agrarian economy to a sophisticated manufacturing and service economy. ****

Module 8: Building an IT Economy: The Korean Experience

An overview of the achievements Korea has made through the implementation of the policy programs among the IT-based strategy.

Module 8: Politics of Making Development Sustainable in South Korea
A critique of the political economy of Korea through the 'miracle years' and its larger implications for development practice.

Module 9: Environment and Global Considerations
A description of the environmental challenges that Korea faced during its growth years and the paradigm shift towards achieving green growth.

Module 10: Transport Infrastructure and Economic Development

How dedicated policies and reform in Korea’s transportation sector influenced its growth story.

Module 11: Politics of Making Development Sustainable in South Korea

A critique of the political economy of Korea through the 'miracle years' and its larger implications for development practice.



Byoung-Joo Kim
Visiting Professor
Korea Development Institute (KDI) School of Public Policy & Management

Soogil Young
Leading Professor
SUNY, Korea

Do-Hyun Han
Professor of Sociology
Academy of Korean Studies

Sung Jin Kang
Korea University

Eun Kyung Kim
Research Fellow
Korean Women’s Development Institute

Soonman Kwon
Seoul National University

Ju-Ho Lee
KDI School of Public Policy and Management

Jaehak Oh
The Korea Transport Institute

Jeffrey D. Sachs
Columbia University




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