Park Chung Hee’s International Legacy


William H. Overholt, May 2011

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton had an enormously successful campaign slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.“ Whereas Clinton just saved a campaign with this strategy, Park Jung Hee saved a country.

Park Jung Hee took over the most threatened country in the world in 1961. South Korea had been devastated by the Korean War just a few years earlier. Its economy remained one of the world’s poorest. Its political stability appeared to be among the world’s poorest. It faced a formidable opponent with greater natural resources, superior industrial power, seemingly superior political stability and the backing of Mao Zedong’s unified and determined China.

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