By Peter Corbishley
Given the present economic world order, last week was an opportune time for an update on Korean peninsular economics. First Aidan Foster Carter tells BAKS that in August President Lee Myung-bak’s military banned “Bad Samaritans,” by Chang Ha-joon, an economics professor at the University of Cambridge, for being un-Korean. Then on the same day the self-same Professor was at the LSE as part of an academic bridge-building exercise with Korean Universities, sponsored by the Korea Foundation. Well, Chang was able to give all kinds of interesting tit-bits as to how and when the ‘free market’ economy has acted as a ‘non-free market economy’ but the talk did not quite match up the billing of Korea’s response to the ‘credit crunch and all that’. Certainly, as Chang argues, Korea’s economy developed through protectionism, and no doubt emerging economies need to protect domestic industrial (and, given American agricultural subsidies, agricultural) production if they are to establish a secure basis for their economic development in the medium to long term. But I would guess that young soldiers were hardly likely to want to read about this kind of thing anyway, until Chang was banned, of course.
And here is our former UK-Korea Ambassador doing his bit:
PS: This Monday morning the BBC reports that the Korean Government has secured the foreign debts of Korean banks with $100 billion plus another $30 billion for good measure. And poor (economically?) President Lee promised economic growth of 7%… Incidentally if you are thinking of visiting South Korea currently your £1 buys around 2300 won whereas according to Frank Rudiger (SOAS Friday 17th “Transformation of State Socialism in East Asia: The case of North Korea”) inflation in the North is about 200%, yet he believes that the ‘toxic’ effect of money in circulation will bring things round.