Northeast Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Imagined Landscape of Affluent Rural Villages: The Saemaul Movement and “Nong-gong Danji (Agro-Industrial Complex)” in South Korea

Saturday, July 7
2:40 PM - 4:10 PM
Location: Tamarind, New Building

This article critically reviews two examples of state mobilization in South Korea: the Saemaul (New Village) Movement in the 1970s and the Nong-gong Danji (Agro-industrial Complex) in the 1980s. The Saemaul Movement was initially launched in 1970 as a top-down social movement to boost up rural household income. The typical iconography of the Movement usually included modernized brick houses with slate roofs and country roads paved with cement, which were made possible through coordination of subsidized materials and volunteered labor. This new landscape became the symbol of the Park Chung-hee era, being a stark contrast to impoverished clay huts with straw roofs. Since 1984, subsequently, the South Korean state ambitiously initiated another top-down program, the Nong-gong Danji. Rosy forecast about the Complex often illustrated factories coexisting with farms and fields, where raw materials from rural communities were manufactured with urban technology, into industrial products with higher value. By building the Nong-gong Danji throughout the nation, the state aimed at creating new jobs in rural communities and eventually at countering the mass migration of rural population to industrialized cities. By the mid-1990s, however, it became apparent that those imagined landscapes of affluent rural villages were not realized, as the socioeconomic changes in rural communities were more rapid and thorough than foreseen by the state. By tracing the genealogy of the imagined landscape of rural villages has changed in South Korea, this case study would illustrate how technology has served as one of the key components of the developmentalist state ideology. 

Tae-Ho Kim

Chonbuk National University, Republic of Korea

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1 - Imagined Landscape of Affluent Rural Villages: The Saemaul Movement and “Nong-gong Danji (Agro-Industrial Complex)” in South Korea



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