Posted tagged ‘South Korea’


July 17, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Magandang araw! Good day!

For so long now did I harbor an admiration for certain leaders of the South, one of whom is the late Park Chung Hee of South Korea. Among the most admirable of developmentalist Asian leaders, I nurtured wishful thoughts that hopefully we can have the equivalent of Park Chung Hee for many developing economies so as to accelerate the graduation towards prosperity.

His governance style was authoritarian, which I surmise worked well for demonstrating political will in pushing through reform programs and the industrialization of his poor country. I am no dogmatist who contends that democracy is the only true best governance modality, though to my mind this is the most fit for my country the Philippines that has failed in attaining a mature developed economy via the martial law route.

South Korea was so poor as its economy was wrecked by two great wars, World War II and the Korean civil war. Right after the truce with the North, South Korea experienced the additional misfortune of selecting a corrupt leadership under Shingman Rhee which proved costly to the fledgeling nation.

Pushing through first of all with agrarian reform, by enticing the chaebols (big landlords) to divest in land and invest instead in manufacturing concerns, just couldn’t make a headway under that corrupt regime. And so it has to take the iron hands of a developmentalist authoritarian regime, under President Park, to rectify the malady and propel South Korea towards industrialization.

President Park thus enticed the chaebols to establish the strategic or heavy industries of the nation, with the state providing sovereign guarantees to their installation. The caveat was: the state will help the chaebols enable their newly owned industries and accumulate gains, but in no way should they engage in investments outside of Korea.

In an interview before with Dr. Antonio Arrizabal, former science & technology secretary and foremost expert on steel industry in the Philippines, he revealed that Park was forewarned by the Americans not to push through with the heavy industries. The first salvo of retaliatory measure by the American elites was the blockage of financing for the big projects.

Unwavering in his decision to pursue heavy industrialization, including the installation of steel and shipbuilding industries, President Park instead diversified the financing source. He turned to Japan for alternative financing, which the latter acceded to. The rise of Pohang Steel Works (once the world’s biggest steel producer) and Hyundai are clear testaments to the success of the industrialization program under the stewardship of President Park.

Very clearly, Park pursued a nationalist economic development policy regime for his country, using interventionist measures as well as capital controls. As shown by the experiences of other countries that have industrialized, state intervention and capital controls were necessary measures to propel their respective countries to industrial prosperity. Attendant social policies led to the creation of a huge middle class in the same countries, thus ensuring a steady and strong domestic market (consumption) for the manufactured goods of the country.

Park knew his economic lessons very well, and he coupled his vision with the determination and zeal to build a prosperous South Korea and a huge domestic market in the long run. And he was undaunted by external threats by the main imperialist power, the USA, of retaliatory attacks for establishing industries that would later compete with America’s and Western powers’ articles of manufactures.

For his deep patriotism and nationalism, he lost his life eventually. Inside the Korean government was a puppet of the Americans—the very chief of the Korean intelligence body (KCIA)—who snuffed off President Park’s life with a bullet.

I wish that the young Koreans and youth across the world today, who would become leaders in their own countries some day, would re-study the exemplar from Asia in the person of Park Chung Hee. No matter what threats may come from vested interests aimed at retarding the development of their respective country, they should go ahead just the same and stand pat on their wise judgement and decision to pursue highly ambitious yet doable and noble goals for their country.

Be ready to become martyrs for the cause of liberating your own country and people from poverty. For after you’re gone, there will be other patriots who will carry on with your cause and bring your sublime vision to fruition.

[Philippines, 10 July 2010]







July 13, 2010

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

As we get filled electrified with the euphoria of the world soccer games, the Koreans’ dread over a possible war among brothers has been on the uptrend. Let’s just hope that the world cup season has relaxed the rather tense nerves of the Koreans and Japanese as well who rabidly dread Bombs from North Korea.

In case that one isn’t familiar with the realpolitik of the intra-Korean conflict (between Northern and Southern sibling Koreans), the situation has been markedly tense owing to the hawkish attitude of the leaders up North. The hardliners (extremists) have been on the initiative there, owing to the hardline attitude of America towards them during the Bush years.

Getting back the Northern hardliners to relax their warmongering is now a ‘too-late-the-hero’ situation. Not even if America’s leadership had swung from hardliner to moderate after the demise of the Republicans and the neo-conservatives with Obama’s installation to power.

On the other hand, to contend that the North’s hardliners would choose to declare war for mere irrational justification hardly merits our attention. The actuations of the North, no matter if they appear as warmongering (such as the sinking of a South Korean battle ship), is largely intended to gain points in the bargaining tables.

The hardliners wish to gain mileage, and that mileage doesn’t necessarily mean invasion mileage measured in terms of square miles of Japan and South Korea that they can occupy. That’s utter non-sense.

The mileages expected are: (a) media/information points, for being continuously projected in international news; (b) millions of dollars of cash, paid by wealthy neighbors & America for keeping the military machine well oiled and for buying some foods & medicines for poor folks; and, (c) testing the international waters for some possible relaxation of bellicose attitudes by other states (via the UN).

It’s like a North bulldog barked so loud and threatened to bite, with some of its saliva reaching the South and the seas. But the dog won’t bite, rest assured.

The agenda of Korean unification is still the most palatable option for both Koreas, and I’m sure the North’s leaders are ever watchful of cracks in the iron parchment that can yield them greater leverages in the unification efforts. They have the Bomb with them, while the South has the Bread.

Both parties have the leveraging incentives to bargain on a quid pro quo basis, just to stress the point matter-of-factly. It is the external powers that are bent on muddling the political waters and searching for ways for the conflict to escalate, so that the Anglo-European financiers can again gain colossal trillions worth of looted monies in the derivatives and portfolio markets on account of the unstable conditions in the Koreas.

And it seems the Japanese are the ones most vulnerable to the machinations of the Western financier oligarchs. If a North Korea-Japan war will shape up so suddenly, I will not find the event as surprising at all. Such a scenario is what the financier oligarchs wish and no less, blame the Japanese for choosing to be blind to such dirty machinations.

So, fellows on Earth, let’s keep our calm and trust the rational minds in the Koreas to solve their problems through their own efforts. Let’s trust the Koreans they can be civil towards each other till their own unification will materialize.

[Philippines, 05 July 2010]