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International Journal of Korean History > Volume 1(1); 2000 > Article
International Journal of Korean History 2000;1(1): 39-62.
Economic Features of Colonial Modernity in Modern Korea
Tae-hern Jung
Professor, Korean History Dept. of Korea University
The fundamental features of 'colonial modernity' had to be overcome during and after the colonial period can be classified as follows. Creation of a nation-state, eliminating the system of outflow or loss of resources instituted by 'colonial capitalism,' creation of the democratization process, and identification and recovery of its own cultural and historical tradition. Western modernity can be reached more efficiently by exploiting colonies and their accompanying 'colonial modernity' of The Third World. After all, the conquest of modernity in world history originated in the conquest of those contradictions of 'colonial modernity' that all the Third World countries have experienced. This paper has treated briefly the problems of the consequences of 'economic growth and development' under the rule of imperialists or 'colonial capitalism.' By my rough estimate, even though the flow of funds needs more accurate analysis, the amount of funds flowing out of and being lost within Korea were 4-5 times greater than its funds flowing into Korea from Japan. This outflow represents more than half of the estimated GDP of 55 billion yen during the colonial period. But this estimate excludes the exploitation of materials, mineral resources, and human beings, all of which is very difficult to measure quantitatively. Nevertheless, some historians confuse the current form of capitalism with the essence of 'colonial capitalism'. Since the economic prominence of South Korea in the last three decades, Western historians generally have a tendency to limit their focus to certain legacies - railroads, roads, harbors, civil registries, and so on - remained after Japan's withdrawal, never saying that South Korea had been filled with numerous poverty-stricken people for over 20 years after independence in 1945 despite aid from USA and colonial legacies. These interpretations assume that it was impossible for the colony to modernize by itself concealing the actual exploitation. Moreover, it must be considered that even these by-products of exploitation or strategic planning to execute war rather than products of charity, were demolished almost completely during the Korean War(1950-1953) in South and North Korea. And per capita income(it represents productivity or economic growth) of North Korea where the pro-Japanese group was eliminated and the degree of damage during the Korean War was more severe, higher than in South Korea until 1973.
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