Ex-periphery: South Korea in the Post-miracle Era

A talk at St Antony’s College Oxford this month:

Ex-periphery: South Korea in the Post-miracle Era

Monday, 13 May 2019, 5:30pm
Venue: Fellows’ Dining Room, St Antony’s College
Speaker: Irina Lyan (Oxford)
Convenor: Rosemary Foot

Place de la Concorde

In this talk I propose to draw attention to the often neglected category of ex-peripheries—former developing economies which are still suspended in transition from developing to developed status. By examining the post-miracle era of South Korea, I aim to understand the primary mechanisms behind the production and reproduction of core-periphery boundaries in its meteoric rise in the 1980s from a mostly agricultural and technologically backward nation to 11th-largest economy in the world. Yet despite the outstanding economic success associated with its celebrated conglomerates’ engagement in catching-up practices—imitating and improving overseas technology, products, knowledge, and policies—Korean development continues to be seen as entangled in the evolutionary process of “still works-in-progress.” The extensive media coverage of accusations made against Korea for its involvement in technological imitation—including the Apple Inc. vs. Samsung Electronics intellectual property lawsuit—has further questioned its full membership in the prestigious club of developed economies. The paradox of becoming part of the economic center while remaining on the geopolitical periphery requires rethinking such in-between position to discover alternative narratives derived from beyond the core-periphery binary.

Irina Lyan holds the position of the Visiting Post Doc at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. In her dissertation, Irina examined resource complementarity discourse between “Start-up Nation” and “the Republic of Samsung,” the geopolitical meanings of cultural similarity in cross-cultural management, and the role of industrial espionage discourse in rebranding the Republic of Korea as a leader in technological innovation. She has published several articles and book chapters on the Korean international image.

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