This edited collection traces the social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of Korea’s dramatic transformation since the late nineteenth century. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, the chapters examine the internal and external forces which facilitated the transition towards industrial capitalism in Korea, the consequences and impact of social change, and the ways in which Korean tradition continues to inform and influence contemporary South Korean society.

Transformations in Twentieth Century Korea employs a thematic structure to discuss the interrelated elements of Korea’s modernization within agriculture, business and the economy, the state, ideology and culture, and gender and the family. The essays in this volume encompass the Choson dynasty, the colonial period, and postcolonial Korea. Collectively, they provide us with an original and innovative approach to the study of modern Korea, and show how knowledge of the country’s past is critical to understanding contemporary Korean society.

With contributions from a number of prominent international scholars within sociology, economics, history, and political science, Transformations in Twentieth Century Korea incorporates a global framework of historical narrative, ideology and culture, and statistical and economic analysis to further our understanding of Korea’s evolution towards modernity.

chapter |29 pages


Korea's twentieth century transformation
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part I|55 pages

The agrarian transformation

chapter 1|31 pages

Neither “sprouts” nor “offspring”

The agrarian roots of Korean capitalism 1
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chapter 2|22 pages

Agricultural cooperative development and change

A window on South Korea's agrarian transformation
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part II|66 pages

Business and industrial transformations

chapter 3|17 pages

Causes, consequences, relevance

Korea's industrialization
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chapter 4|32 pages

Transformations in Korean capitalism

A case study of the Hyundai Business Group
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chapter 5|15 pages

What makes us great

Chaebŏl development, labor practices, and managerial ideology
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part III|66 pages

Transformations in the state

chapter 6|31 pages

Development without democracy

The political economy of US–South Korea relations, 1958–1961
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chapter 7|33 pages

Cut from the same cloth

Bureaucracies and rulers in South Korea, 1948–1979
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part IV|70 pages

Transforming culture and ideology

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chapter 9|22 pages

Monumental histories

Manliness, the military, and the War Memorial
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chapter 10|22 pages

Modernization theory, ideology, and economic success

Putting Korea's development in comparative perspective
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part V|85 pages

Social transformations

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chapter V|29 pages


South Korea: in pursuit of modernity
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