10 Pages

Farm Boy

ByAl Cho

My father came to Illinois to study agriculture, but he never intended to put down roots. Like many Koreans in the 1970s, he arrived with a simple plan: to obtain a degree in the United States and return to the motherland, where a diploma from a middling state university would turn magically into a ticket to a prestigious and stable future. A hard-nosed, economical people, Koreans risked the precious currency of their lives en masse, buying cheap and selling dear as they exported themselves to the land of opportunity for a couple of years to bring home the valuable technological knowledge of the West. This, not the technocratic narratives of Harvard economists, is the real story of the East Asian miracle.