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Applications of regional planning strategies to South Korean rural development Shin, Dong-Ho

Abstract

The thesis analyzes South Korean rural development programmes implemented from 1968 to 1986. It examines the respective planning goals, implementation methods, and outcomes of two Korean development programmes: the Rural Non-Farm Employment Programme and Saemaul Undong. The theoretical framework for this analysis is based on a comparison of the Functional Integration Approach (FIA) and the Territorial Development Approach (TDA). FIA theory has been developed mainly by consultants from the United States Agency for International Development (e.g., Dennis A. Rondinelli). These theorists assume that rural underdevelopment stems from the lack of urban technology and information. Accordingly, they see that transfer of urban technology is the key to rural economic development. The theory prescribes the promotion of rural trade centres and networks bridging urban and rural areas. TDA theory has been modelled by John Friedmann and his colleagues. It is a bottom-up, people-oriented approach. Advocates of this approach emphasize even distribution of economic power, while those of FIA focuses on economic growth. The TDA theory proposes that planners involve intended beneficiaries in decision-making processes, and help poor people directly. TDA attempts to close the urban/rural linkages selectively, since it is thought that some urban influences are harmful to rural development. TDA has been criticized as unfeasible since in most countries it requires significant reforms of the existing power structure. The Korean Rural Non-Farm Employment reflects some aspects of FIA theories, and Saemaul Undong some aspects of TDA. The non-farm employment programme has been planned by professional planners in national planning agencies. The planners have attempted to promote manufacturing industries in selected rural centres. However, the programme has not been successful in creating more rural employment for poor people. A major reason for this appears to be that the programme promotes employment opportunities which are inappropriate to the skills of the rural poor. Saemaul Undong was initiated by the late president Chung-Hee Park. The programme was implemented by central politicians, local administrators, and rural people. Goals of development were not purely economic. Rather, they included social development and the programme focused on areas regardless of economic potential. It has improved the quality of rural infrastructure, technology, and people's confidence, combinations of which may be a basis for long-term development. It has also improved rural gross income, though the growth has necessitated increased expenses. From the analysis of the two Korean rural planning programmes, the thesis concludes that TDA, as exemplified by Saemaul Undong, is a promising regional planning strategy. Specifically the thesis concludes that planning for rural development in countries like Korea should include the following TDA approaches: 1) involve beneficiaries in the decision-making process, 2) employ appropriate local inputs and knowledge, 3) facilitate linkages among rural institutions, as well as between rural people and government agencies, and 4) assist innovation from within rural areas.

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