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South Korea has long been touted as an outstanding model of economic development. Despite poor resource endowment and a large population, a colonial legacy, the devastation following the Korean War, chronic political instability, and the protracted military confrontation with North Korea, South Korea has made an impressive ascension in the international economic system, becoming the 13th largest economy and the 8th largest trading state in the world in a relatively short span.
Beneath the economic miracle lay human capital investment, a timely transition to an export-led growth strategy, and the visible hands of the developmental state. As a developmental state, South Korea was able to expedite the pace of economic growth by identifying strategic industrial sectors, making discretionary allocation of resources to those sectors, and minimizing the collective action dilemma pervasive in most developing countries.