Political Relationship with the United States: Allowing the Dictator; Cold War politics
Both the United States and Korea recognized each other's importance; Park played a crucial role in the Cold War as a deterrence against the spread of communism in East Asia, while the United States played a big role in helping Park maintain power and develop Korea economically.
Kim Hyung A
"On the other hand, President Kennedy was concerned with worldwide Cold War policys. The US, therefore, wasted no time in effectively endorsing Park’s military junta as the bulwark of its Cold War bloc, focused on the maintenance of anti-Communist regimes around the periphery of the Soviet empire. In this context, Kennedy betrayed his own country’s commitment to creating democratic politics in Korea by acquiescing to Park’s military dictatorship. The flaw in US Cold War policy in Korea was that it not only enabled Park to establish the legitimacy of his essentially illegitimate political leadership, but it further encouraged him to insist on a measure of independence in his negotiations with the Americans, especially on aid in relation to Korea’s economic development.Park’s “quid pro quo” approach upset Washington officials from the very beginning. They were also suspicious about Park’s earlier record of Communist activity. Yet, Washington had no illusions about the importance of Park’s role to its Cold War policy. Similarly, Park had no illusions about the importance of Americans to Korea. He thoroughly appreciated that without US support and cooperation he could not maintain and strengthen his hold on power and his domestic and international legitimacy. Thus despite the continuing dominance of American policies through the provision of aid, Park relentlessly promoted US-led anti-Communist capitalism, while also articulating economic nationalism in his dealing with the US. For Park, the US represented an absolutely necessary resource for Korea’s economic development and the US presence in Korean affairs therefore became a defining parameter in the formulation of Park-style modernization (Kim, Hyung A"
Economic Cooperation and Relationship with the United States and Japan
The crisis in the Korean Peninsula, though it was a substantial risk (due to the possibility of war), was also an opportunity, as the United States was focused on the unstable situation in the Korean Peninsula; therefore, it was eager to ensure South Korea's economic well-being
"The United States provided money and market to Korea. Under the great influence of the United States, Japan provided money, technology, equipment, and markets. Korea processed goods and exported to the United States; this was the main external growth triangle for South Korea."
Park Chung-Hee, in his book "The Country, the Revolution, and I, justified the military coup using primarily economic reasons.In other words, Park
In other words, Park Chung-Hee encouraged people to accomplish the goal of an independent economy, instead of depending merely on international aid,
“To sit back and keep on receiving help without an effort of one’s own is really a shameful thing to do” (Park, 1962, p. 28).
- External environment and American aid
A domestic regime for development, no matter how favorable, cannot alone bring about national development; appropriate external environments are also required.
Similarly, without a favorable domestic regime, environmental circumstances alone cannot produce as good a result as it otherwise might. For Korea, the external environments can be divided into that of the East Asia region and that of the world as a whole (Oh, 1968). As for the former, Korea greatly depended on and made the best possible use of the Northeast Asia policy of the United States. Korea’s success would have been quite unattainable had it not been for the help given by the United States, as it was too great a task for South Korea to juggle inter-Korean confrontations and participate to advantage in the world capitalist arena (Son, 1985).
It is important to recall that the international community continued to focus on the unstable situation of the Korean peninsula at the time. The United States provided money and market to Korea. Under the great influence of the United States, Japan provided money, technology, equipment, and markets. Korea processed goods and exported to the United States; this was the main external growth triangle for South Korea. Backed by the United States, in particular, the normalization of Korea-Japan diplomatic relations provided South Korea extra money and goods for development and access to Japanese technology and markets (Edward, 2003).
Korea’s geopolitical location made the Korea-U.S.-Japan triangle possible to cooperate. The ideological confrontation between the two Koreas resulted in risks as well as opportunities for South Korean development (Sung, 1981).
In his book “The Country, the Revolution, and I” President Park puts the question “Why was the Revolution necessary?” (Park, 1962, p. 25) and makes a good attempt to explain its necessity. He mentions the reasons for the necessity of the revolution. Among them are: a) national economy was confronted with bankruptcy, b) Gross National Product was very low and the primary Industrial structure was underdeveloped, c) the electricity situation was shocking, d) mineral resources were discarded, e) State-operated enterprises were all near bankruptcy, f) national budget was heavily depended on the foreign aid of the United States (Park, 1962).
At the beginning of 1960s, the United States supply represented 52% of the total budget, while the Korean was only 48%. In other words, the U.S. had a 52% majority vote with regard to Korea, and Korea was dependent on them to that extent. At the same time, these facts imply that Korean government would have to close down if the U.S. aid was withdrawn (Park, 1962).
Receiving the U.S. aid was not the problem, the problem was whether this money was being used consciously or not. Unfortunately, most of this large aid disappeared. It had been frittered away to support the daily living of the country. As Mr. Park says, “To sit back and keep on receiving help without an effort of one’s own is really a shameful thing to do” (Park, 1962, p. 28).
It is no exaggeration that without U.S. aid Korea could not have done what it has done. Being dependant on the foreign aid worked for the goodness of the Korean people, even if they do not recognize this all the time. Jung-hee Park was also grateful and showed his thanks, but except for previous leaders, he realized the disadvantages of the foreign aid policy and worked hard to gain independence over economic situation of the country (Sung, 1981).
With a strong enemy across the the Parallel, there was no other alternative but to concentrate creative energy on the problems of the national economy and proceed to recovery. Mr. Park realized this and encouraged people to accomplish, as quickly as possible, the goal of an independent economy.