12 Pages

Introduction: The developmental alliance and Korean development

In late 2007, the conservative Grand National Party (GNP) won Korea’s1

presidential election in a landslide. It was the most comprehensive win by a presidential candidate in the period since Korea’s transition to democracy two decades earlier. The victory of Lee Myung-bak2 brought to an end ten years of progressive (centre-left) government, which had begun when Kim Dae-jung was elected amid the Asian financial crisis and continued with the presidency of Roh Moo-hyun from 2003. These leaders oversaw Korea’s recovery from the financial crisis, the centrepiece of which was a rigorous programme of industrial and financial reform. In particular, the Kim and Roh administrations emphasised the reform of the chaebols, the ubiquitous industrial conglomerates that have for decades been the weightiest players in the Korean economy.