chapter  10
Saemaul Undong
Korea’s new deal for rural modernization
WithSeung-hun Chun
Pages 20

The early phase of industrial development policy accompanied a widening gap between the industrial urban areas and rural areas in favor of the former. For inclusive growth, this gap had to be closed. However, farms were a hotbed of poverty that was wide and deep-rooted. The cash-strapped government had no fiscal capacity to tackle the problem. Entering the early 1970s, President Park intervened in rural development, pursuing a dream of farmers working for themselves with a spirit of diligence, self-help and cooperation to escape from poverty. The Saemaul Undong started with the distribution of free cement to each village. At the next step, it provided additional incentives for farms performing above the median average, while giving the other half no incentives at all. At the same time, the government encouraged village leaders through intensive training programs and supported them in their every effort for their community development activities with technical services. South Korea’s 33,000 villages competed fiercely with one another to escape from poverty. As a result, the yoke of poverty was drastically reduced Korea in the 1970s through the efforts of the people. It also laid a foundation for a long-term path of inclusive growth.