Seoul / Economy under Japanese Influence

Japan, undoubtedly, brought a new type of economic patterns to Korea during the time of colonization. Regarding Korea as an extension of Japanese economy, Japan introduced capitalism into Korea economy. To support what Japan’s local and military needs, the production and the use of natural resources in Korea were under Japanese monitor and control.

These kinds of policy was treated as a typical colonial dual economy. As same as the colonization of other countries, the colonizer enjoys the fruitful result brought by the modern industrialization and trade treaty while the colonized remain themselves in the traditional agrarian economy. Both benefits and drawbacks were induced under this kind of implementation of economy.

Japanese-style Korean Cultural Education
Japanese-style Korean Cultural Education

Speaking of the benefits, Japan built a substantial economic infrastructure of roads, railroads and public work. With the extension of education of Korean at elementary school level, the educated and enrolled  labor force increased tremendously (from 20000 in 1919 to 900000 in 1937).

Korean worker in Western's eye
Korean worker in Western’s eye

However, the general public didn’t enjoy any improved welfare or economic benefit. Rural starvation in spring were getting worse. The Grain consumption per capita by Korean decreased from 2.032koku in 1915-19 to 1.668 koku in 1930-33. Large amount of natural resources were taken away by the Japanese in order to fulfill the military demand for wars in World War II. Timber and fuels were drew to the industrial plant while brass and other metals wereruthlessly collected and melted to make ammunition.


Reference reading:

Donald Stone Macdonald (1988), The Koreans – Contemporary Politics and Society, Westview Press

1 Comment on “Seoul / Economy under Japanese Influence

  1. This entry reminds me of the Japanese Occupation of Hong Kong, which similarly the currency was replaced by Japanese Military Yen and japanese style of education and living were impose on the city.

    We can see the same result of downgrading city utilities including transportation, education, economy and social facilities.

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