Economic Crisis and Restructuring in South Korea
Beyond the Free Market-Statist Debate
This paper, which examines the causes of the South
Korean crisis in 1997-98 and the nature and consequences
of the post-crisis restructuring process, looks critically
at the neoliberal position but also at what the authors
call the statist position (which celebrated and continues
to defend the usefulness of industrial policy and state
direction of the economy against neoliberal critics).
While there are important differences between these
approaches, the authors show that because both ignore
the structural causes of South Korea's crisis, neither
is able to explain, much less help overcome it. The
paper then examines the economic, political, and social
effects of the restructuring process, demonstrating
how it has left the South Korean economy more dominated
by foreign capital and the chaebol, and more dependent
on exports and labor exploitation than before the crisis.
As a result, South Korea appears headed for a new crisis.
The authors conclude by highlighting ongoing worker
resistance to the restructuring process and a movement-building
strategy for advancing a worker/community-centered recovery
and development program.
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