The Korean Journal of Economic Studies
Macroeconomic Assessment of Colonial Development in Korea
Jang Ok Cho (Sogang University)Year 2017Vol. 65No. 1
By looking into the data collected by the scholars at Naksungdae Institute ofEconomic Research, we ask the following two questions on the colonialdevelopment in Korea. (1) Was Korea developed economically during thecolonial rule of Imperial Japan? (2) Did the colonial development cause therapid growth after mid-1960s? The answer to the first question is conditionallyaffirmative in the sense that the development was not enough to remove thepoverty in colonial Korea. The fraction of consumption in GDP was very highand that of basic foodstuffs and clothing in consumption was also sustainedhigh during the colonial period. In addition, most of Korean people stayed inagricultural sector. The answer to the second question is definitely negative.Firstly, physical capital accumulated in South Korea during the colonial periodhad not been much and wiped away after WWII and during Korean War.Secondly, human capital was not accumulated so much as to cause the rapidgrowth since mid-1960s. Thirdly, the whole story relating the colonial rule tothe strong government of Park Chung Hee has been far-fetched. Lastly,institutions are not sufficient but necessary for a rapid growth. Furthermore,Japanese institutions were not the ones enhancing economic development. Insum, the colonial rule by Imperial Japan helped Korea little with the rapidgrowth since mid-1960s.