Publication Date

January 2003

Publication Details

Harvie, C and Lee, HH, Export Led Industrialisation and Growth – Korea’s Economic Miracle 1962-89, Working Paper 03-01, Department of Economics, University of Wollongong, 2003.


The period 1962-89 witnessed a remarkable transformation of the South Korean economy, from being poverty ridden to the attainment of the status of newly industrialised nation. This transformation was achieved through the adoption of an outward oriented industry led strategy, based, particularly during the period of the 1970s, upon the development of large-scale industrial conglomerates and the attainment of economies of scale and technology to achieve international competitiveness. By the early 1980s this strategy had resulted in major structural imbalances, a weakened financial section, heavy concentration in domestic markets, and a repressed development of small and medium enterprises. By the end of the 1980s, despite attempts at economic reform during this decade, the structural and financial problems remained which were to prove the country’s undoing during the financial and economic crisis of 1997-98. This issue of whether Korea’s performance during this period can be described as an economic miracle is also reviewed. The empirical evidence on this issue is mixed and no conclusive evidence can be drawn. However, despite this, the achievements of the Korean economy during the period under discussion should not be underestimated.