chapter  12
17 Pages

INTO THE POLITICAL MAELSTROM

When President Roh Tae Woo assumed the reins of command from Chun 000 Hwan in early 1988, the Korean economy was boom-ing. The success of the Seoul Olympics had put South Korea on the geopolitical map, not as one of many Asian tigers but as the Asian tiger. Alice Amsden's influential 1989 book on the Korean economic miracle was entitled, simply, Asias Next Giant.2 Korea was clearly on the road to becoming the next Japan. It was now enjoying a trade surplus for the first time in its existence, and it was rapidly building both political and economic ties with several countries formerly considered its worst enemies, notably China and the Soviet Union.