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The Shrimp that Became a Tiger

Transformation Theory and Korea’s Rise After the Asian Crisis


Bernhard Seliger

South Korea underwent a dramatic change in the last one and a half decades, from being considered a «tiger in trouble» in the wake of the Asian crisis to a showcase of economic development. The judgment of 1998 was itself a complete reversal of the previous enthusiastic reviews of world record-high growth for several decades, from the 1960s to the 1990s. Korea, once considered a shrimp between two mighty whales, Japan and China, veritably made a jump to become a tiger. And, after the steep decline of 1998, this tiger again showed its claws. This book deals not with the causes of the crisis in retrospect, but rather with the implications for the development of a new economic model in South Korea. It argues that the crisis and the following institutional change can best be understood by applying the theory of economic transformation.


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This work was supported by a grant from the Academy of Korean Studies, which is funded by the Korean Government (MOEHRD, Basic Research Promotion Fund). AKS-2007-CB-2002 This work benefitted from a vast number of conferences, meetings, talks, inter- views, as well as various projects with students at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (1998 to 2004) and University of Witten/Herdecke (since 1999). It is not possible to mention all those who contributed to the development of this book, but a few should be mentioned: Prof. Dr. Carsten Herrmann-Pillath (Frankfurt School of Finance and Management), Prof. Dr. Werner Pascha (Universität Duis- burg/Essen), Dr. Sigrun Caspary (University of Witten/Herdecke), and many others introduced me to important aspects of institutional economics and the analysis of East Asian economies. Prof. Dr. Won-Soon Kwon (Hankuk Univer- sity of Foreign Studies), Prof. Dr. Jong-Won Lee (Suwon University), Prof. Dr. Sung-Jo Park (Free University Berlin), Prof. Dr. Dalgon Lee (Former Minister of Public Administration and Security/Seoul National University) and many others helped me to deepen my understanding of the Korean economy. Special thanks go also to Sarah Kohls for managing the Academy of Korean Studies grant. Breda Lund did a great job to edit this book. Anna Benzin, Wing Cheng, Jaewhan Kim, Sang-Ah Kim and Noa Sharabi helped with the manuscript. All remaining errors and all judgments are solely mine.

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