ABSTRACT

The late 1950s and early 1960s was a formative era in the history of South Korean politics and economic development. Between 1958 and 1961 Korean society experienced significant social and political turmoil associated with increased tensions in US-Korea relations, the violent end of Syngman Rhee’s administration, the formation of a democratic government under Prime Minister Chang Myo˘n in August 1960, and the overthrow of that regime by the instigators of the May 1961 military coup. During these years, policy-makers and bureaucrats in the republic also established some of the foundations for the longer term accelerated integration of the peninsula into the capitalist world system, a process that has been described as Korea’s “globalization.” For US officials, the late 1950s marked the start of a transition in policy away from a primary reliance on American bilateral aid to prop up the Korean state toward strategies designed to foster multilateral political and economic ties between Korea and the United States’ “free world” allies.