In his Age of Extremes, Eric Hobsbawm calls the recent transformation of South Korean society “as spectacular an industrial success story as any in history” (Hobsbawm 1994: 362). There have been attempts to understand the circumstances of this emergence of Korea and other societies, in its initial phase grouped together as the newly industrializing economies (NIES), and understood as industrial economies, if not democratic polities. Studies have been made of the processes of industrial development; explanations have been offered to identify the forces that have driven and characterized this development, for example, workable political organization, shrewd industrial policies, and fortunate conjunctions of various factors in the world economy as well as cultural causes.