On Friday, October 25, the Hamilton Lugar School will host After the Miracle: The Present and Future of Korea’s Economy and Society, an international conference that will bring together over a dozen experts from a variety of backgrounds to discuss the impact that South Korea’s rapid economic development has had on that nation’s society and people. The conference will take place from 1pm to 5:45pm in the Global and International Studies Building’s Shreve Auditorium.
In 1960, in the aftermath of the Korean War, the per capita GDP of South Korea was US$79, one of the world’s lowest. Now South Korea’s economy is the fourth largest in Asia and the eleventh largest of any country. Some have called this transformation the “Miracle on the Han River,” due to the unlikeliness and unprecedented nature of such development.
This rapid change has been attended by an embrace of neoliberal values like intense competition and individual freedom, but significant issues have arisen, including income inequality, high levels of youth unemployment, and one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, due in part to the cost of raising children.
The conference brings together economists, sociologists, a political scientist, an expert on environmental policy, and a senior staff member of the Korea Economic Institute, who will give TED Talk-style presentations, take part in question-and-answer sessions, and participate in a policy roundtable moderated by Hamilton Lugar School Dean Lee Feinstein. Topics will include what macroeconomic trends predict about the country’s future, the state of labor, Korean business groups, the Korean middle class, and workplace inequality in family owned conglomerates known as chaebols.
Taken together, these presentations will connect academic work to the policy world as attendees hear from authorities with different areas of interest and expertise. The conference’s keynote address, “Economic Growth and Demand for Equity: The Case of Korea,” will be given by Daeil Kim of Seoul National University. Apart from presentations, the conference will also include a musical performance.
This marks the fourth annual international conference organized by the Institute for Korean Studies, with previous years covering topics including the Peace Corps, the relationship between China and Korea, and democracy and democratization in Korea.
The Institute for Korean Studies, established in 2015, provides programming and opportunities for engagement all year round, including not just a conference but also an essay contest, a research exchange program with George Washington University, and a Korean speech contest.