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2 - Post-War Reconstruction and Catch-Up Industrialisation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 September 2021

Kevin Gray
Affiliation:
University of Sussex
Jong-Woon Lee
Affiliation:
Hanshin University, South Korea
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Summary

In chapter two, we examine North Korea’s post-war recovery and its extraordinarily rapid transition towards a modern industrial economy in the 1950s. Here we draw attention to the massive financial support that North Korea received from elsewhere in the socialist bloc in that decade. The existence of the more advanced ally of the Soviet Union and its generous developmental assistance underpinned Kim Il Sung’s ultimately erroneous belief that North Korea would not have to sacrifice living standards in order to pursue a strategy of heavy industrialisation. Developmental strategies were, however, mediated through ongoing domestic political struggles. The factional disputes of the 1950s were in part related to questions of developmental strategy and were a reflection of the exiled nature of Korea’s communist movement during the colonial era and the nature of the various factions’ international linkages. In this chapter, we also draw attention to the substantive nature of North Korea’s developmental policies in the 1950s, including that of the socialisation of production. We also examine the decline of international aid to North Korea towards the latter part of the decade, and how that led to increased emphasis on mass mobilisation campaigns. This chapter consists of original, unpublished material.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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