Satisfactory solutions of Korea’s manifold problems come into proper and reasonable focus only when these problems are examined in the perspective of a comprehensive reconstruction plan. This Report presents such a plan (p. viii).
In 1952, Robert R. Nathan Associates was commissioned by the United Nations’ Korean Reconstruction Agency to devise a five-year plan for the economic recovery of South Korea. In this seminal work in postconflict planning, the firm presented a detailed program for stabilizing Korea’s war-torn economy and reinvigorating production and investment. The plan establishes goals for production, consumption, investment, import financing, resource use, pricing, business management, and the balancing of exports and imports, while stressing the imperative of cohesive and coordinated economic policy.
In 1989, reflecting on the plan and his firm’s work in Korea, Mr. Nathan bemoaned the lack of progress from 1952 to 1960, attributing it to a failure in political leadership, but praised the diligence of Korean policymakers and businesses from that time on:
We worked with them on all these policies. We worked with every five-year plan: we were in Korea until ’75, from ’52 to ’54-’55, and then again from ’60 to ’75, resident teams. When they would give an incentive like concessionary interest rates to an exporter, producer of export goods [and] if that producer didn’t have quality, and didn’t have inspections, didn’t have standardized stuff, they would cut him off like this, you know, “bang,” and no more concessionary rates. It was a disciplined society, and they were tremendously interested in education….willing to send thousands abroad to be educated for their long run productivity rather than the short run.—Niel M. Johnson, Oral History Interview, June 22, 1989 (http://www.trumanlibrary.org/oralhist/nathanrr.htm).
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