The Miracle of the Han River

Seeing what’s happening in the Philippines kinda makes me lose hope. It seems that the only way for the sick man of Asia to get better is for it to start from scratch! I have been watching TV Patrol and I have also been reading Pinoyexchange on a daily basis. A lot of the things that is being discussed or posted on the latter never makes it to the news. Too bad if our only source of news is TV Patrol.
Meanwhile, I am inspired watching this video on how South Korea has achieved its economic status. It’s called “The Miracle of the Han River”. The Han River is known as “Han-gang” in Korean and it runs in the middle of Seoul separating “gang-buk” or north of the river and “gang-nam” or south of the river. (Uploaded by KunwooFilm)

I remember watching a documentary about Park Chung Hee. In the early 1960s, Korean nurses and miners were sent to work for Germany in exchange of financial aid. When the president visited his countrymen in Germany, he cried and told them that they have to sacrifice and work hard for the country and the future generation. That makes me wonder, was there ever a Filipino leader who has sincerely cried knowing that the people are suffering?


  1. i heard from a friend here that before, Koreans daw po ang may “Philippine dream”–makadalaw lang ng Pinas, okay na. ngayon baliktad na.
    how i wish marealize ni PNoy na may mas importante pang dapat atupagin maliban sa ibagsak si GMA.. sad..

      1. ate Betchay, sa Law (obligations and contracts) subject namin non our professor showed us a documentary on HL.. i really didn’t even want to look or watch. it was very pathetic and frustrating.. ewan ko kung bakit nilalagay pa rin sila sa pedestal..

  2. Very interesting! There were many similarities between Korea and the Philippines years ago. 2 autocratic leaders (Marcos and Park Chung Hee) who, despite their abuses of democratic freedoms, drove their countries economies successfully. Both had very active American support. In Korea’s case, the economic miracle would not have been possible if the US had not been there militarily and Korea had to pay for its own defense. Same was true for the Philippines at the time. Both countries revolted against authoritarian retgimes and installed more democratic forms of leadership, however, the key difference is that Korea chose to keep itself under the US defense umbrella….while the Philippines (probably due to their new democratic structue) chose to get out of the US defense umbrella and close Clark/Subic. Pinatubo certainly speeded up that departure, but it would have happened regardless. Thousands were unemployed as a result and the Philippines had to foot the bill for a much larger slice of defense budget at the same time. In my opinion, the vacuum left by the departing Americans indirectly led to the increase of the OFW culture in the Philippines, and the Philippines became the “sick man” as a direct result. I’m not saying that Americans were the savior of the Philippines…not at all! What I am saying is that sometimes, extreme nationalism can be a dangerous thing for the people’s welfare. Be careful what you ask for. You might just get it! Korea has played their emergence as an economic power very smartly…they kept the Americans here, which means that a much larger potion of the budget can be devoted to the “economic miracle”. In the case of the Philippines, popular nationalism at the time trumped sound strategic long term benefits…and you can now see the results.

    1. Huge difference between Marcos and Park. Marcos’s administration was marred by massive corruption. During Park’s reign, corruption was unheard of, any corrupt official would have been slaughtered by Park. Park was a brutal dictator with iron clad control for the betterment of his country.
      Also, large part of Korea’s budget goes into its military defense spending and Korea actually pays for half of America’s military presence. Without so much spending on its military due to North Korea’s unpredictable aggression, South Korea would be even much more better off than it currently is today.
      Here’s an article titled:
      South Korea: the country that the Philippines could have been

      1. How sad that you believe there was no rampant corruption during the Park regime! Corruption was condoned and encouraged…as long as you were in the Park camp. I know, I lived it here. In addition, most corruption in Korea at the time…including now, was well hidden under the table, so to speak. I know, i lived it here. Also, what Korea pays now for maintaining US military in Korea cannot be compared to the small amount that Korea contributed during the Park Chung Hee years. How sad that you believe that Korea payed for half of America’s military presence at the time Park Chung Hee was making “The Miracle on the Han”. From a defense expenditure perspective, Kora was being given a free military ride during those days….which allowed the quick development of the economy. Nowadays, as befitting a nation more economically powerful, Korea contributes far more to America’s presence than in the 1970s, but it is still much less than half, depending on which figures you want to use. The Korean miracle is due in large part to the hard-working nature of Koreans…but no less important is the favorable trading business established with the US to buy Korean goods, including favorable import tax rates, etc, established during the Park regime. More troubling here is that you appear to be missing or avoiding my real point…that is that the “Sick Man” might have had a better economic future if the americans had not left so quickly. We don’t know the future…we can only learn from the past.

  3. “most corruption in Korea at the time…including now, was well hidden under the table”
    And you would know what happened if it was well under the table?
    I’ll put it this way, corruption today is much worse than during Park’s regime. I think we can agree that the national budget was well spent in building Korea due to Park’s iron clad control of the money going to proper use, this is why he’s considered by many to be the greatest president in Korean history. Hence, I was pointing out the difference between Marcos and Park.
    In terms of military spending, I was referring to the current spending and not during Park’s regime.
    ” More troubling here is that you appear to be missing or avoiding my real point…that is that the “Sick Man” might have had a better economic future if the americans had not left so quickly.”
    Missing or avoiding isn’t the issue here, I merely provided supplemental points on top of yours. As to answer your quote, I point at Marcos as the “Sick Man”, sure if Americans had stayed longer, but that “Sick Man” Marcos as the president created much of Phillipines economical problems(human rights violations and among others) by incurring so much debt which Phillipines is still dealing with today. At one time, Phillipines had one of the top economies in Asia. But that “Sick Man” Marcos did not help, did he?
    Anyhow, what did you think of the article on the link that I posted?

  4. I watched this for my report and I must say that it is a very inspiring video. For me, the main difference between Park Chung Hee and Marcos was that Park Chung Hee put the welfare of his country first rather than himself. I asked a Korean businessman before what his opinion about Park Chung Hee was. He explained that he hated PCH when he was still in college because he was a dictator but then he understood why PCH had to do it. They said that when PCH was assassinated, no amount of money was found on him which cannot be said when Marcos died. We cannot say that there was no corruption in Korea during his time but he became dictator so that he will be able to unite Korea to work for its development. Now look what they have achieved now.

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