During the last decade, South Korea burst into the arena of international commerce by achieving just about the fastest economic growth rate in the world.
During the last decade, South Korea burst into the arena of international commerce by achieving just about the fastest economic growth rate in the world. A timeless landscape, traditionally known as the land of the Morning Calm was changed with a shattering suddenness. A new six-year plan launched this year calls for the consolidation of the country's industrial revolution - greater mechanisation, improved technology, expanded production.
This film takes a look at some of the paradoxes behind the South Korean success story. It sets the soaring industrial progress against the depression that the fallen over agriculture. It looks at the two sides of the industrial miracle, with its flashy western-style nightlife for new tycoons and it slum areas for low paid workers. Possibly it reflects something of the tensions of the anonymous, regimented existence of the new city dwellers compared with the traditional, communal life of the agricultural villages.
But whatever morals can be drawn from the two ways of life at present represented in South Korea, there is no doubt about the course the country will take during the coming years. If the growth rate can be sustained, South Korea will be following closely in the wake of Japan to become a new economic giant of the Far East.
SYNOPSIS: The latest economic miracle in the Far East is to be found here, in the land of South Korea. During the last decade, the country has achieved just about the fastest economic growth rate in the world. It's been a remarkable success story. When Japanese occupation ended twenty-six years ago the only metalled roads in the country were a few city streets. In the last five years, a national highway system has sprung up, geared to serve the country's rapid industrial expansion.
Earlier in 1971, a new six-year plan was launched. It calls for the consolidation of the country's industrial revolution, with greater mechanisation, improved technology, and an ever expanding production. The reasons for the industrial boom can be found here in -- of all places -- a wigmaking factory. Low labour costs are the basis of the industry, allowing specialisation in hand-made wigs. Now wigs figure among top two export lines.
But while industrialisation soars, the country's agriculture has hit a depression. Ten years ago, the average income of people working on the land was higher than those in the cities. Now the position is reversed. And though the outsider is frequently impressed by the contentment of the farmers, cultivating their small uneconomic plots by traditional methods, their way of life seems to be doomed. The young people are attracted away to the cities by the promise of higher wages. With about a hundred-thousand people a year leaving the land, the authorities are planning what they call"a green revolution" -- with farm mechanisation, pesticides, restructuring of the paddy field system. The debate on the long-term effect of such techniques still rages in the West. But South Korean farming seems committed to following western precedent.
The by-products of an industrial society are also depressingly familiar. The cities have their slum areas. Though wages have been held down, inflation has increased despite intensive counter-measures by the Government.
The economic miracle has its paradoxes. The slums coexist alongside flashy Western-style nightlife. Remarkable as the South Korean success story has been, it has not been able to alter some underlying factors which contributed to an earlier history of poverty. The country is still overpopulated, with thirty-three million people crammed into a relatively small land area. It still lives under the shadow of the Korean war, supporting an army of half a million.
The South Koreans have a passionate belief in education. Illiteracy, which reached alarming proportions under the Japanese occupation, is down to eight percent of the population. The Government has invested heavily in education for the country's future progress. And the country traditionally known as the Land of Morning Calm is marching inexorably into the technological age.