South Korean Cultural Ecology - 1905 to 1990
H. Korean Agriculture :The Sacrificial Lamb"
Korean agriculture has been the "sacrificial lamb" to ensure the continued viability of the dominant export-oriented industrialization strategy. In the face of U.S. trade pressure the government has all but written off the Korean countryside in order to keep American markets open to Korean manufactured goods. Korea is now the largest importer of U.S. agricultural goods with over half of Korea's food imports coming from the U.S. U.S. trade pressure has cut off the farmers' last avenues of retreat. The U.S. trade includes 95-100% of soybeans, 74% of wheat, and 70% of cotton. Now tobacco has been added to the list. The farmers are running out of things to plant for a profit. In 1988 the government, bowing again to U.S. pressure imported 14,500 tons of beef to meet 10% of the demand in 1988. It was raised 325% to 50,000 tons in 1989, and to 58,000 tons in 1990. By 1997 the beef market will be completely open. Foreign beef sells for about 25% of the cost of Korean beef. This should bankrupt the 50% of the farmers who depend in varying degree on raising cattle.
It is very unlikely that the technocrats can develop the political will to stem the disappearance of the class of small peasant farmers. The concern of the technocrats is solely of out concern of the potential political clout of the rebellious farmers.On to Page 24 Back to Page 22 Back to Outline Page Back to South Korean Choice Page