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국토인프라

Working Paper

Administration of Land Reform in Korea

페이스북
커버이미지
  • 저자 황인정(黃仁政)
  • 발행일 1982/12/01
  • 시리즈 번호 8301
원문보기
요약 Like everything else in the post-Liberation period, the
politics of land reform in Korea were complex and confusing. An
American military government unfamiliar with Korean ways and
native Koreans lacking experience in self-government sought to
formulate a coherent land reform program in a chaotic political
environment. In essence, land reform in Korea became a product
of a political bargaining process between reformist liberal and
entrenched conservative forces. In spite of an apparent show of
unanimous positive response to the land reform idea, there was
a strong undercurrent of resistance determined to protect the
interests of landlords. While the political and social environment
after the liberation from Japanese rule strongly favored a
vigorous and comprehensive land reform program, conservative
resistance delayed the initial enactment of land reform, distorted
the effect of its implementation and reduced its overall efficiency.
Thus, the actual area of land reformed in the government
programs made up only 19%of the total farmland in South
Korea. However, if one includes the land area privately sold in
order to avoid forced redistribution, the land reform movement
certainly caused a far-reaching in the land ownership pattern in
Korea.

The administrative power charged with implementing the
government program of land reform was decentralized by
granting discretionary powers to local governments.
Non-professional para-bureaucratic personnel were utilized by
local governments at all levels. The organization of local land
commissions enabled the collection of fair and specific
information required by the land reform administration and
provided a forum for popular participation in the nation-wide
reform adminstration. These innovative arrangements indeed
made the land reform administration in Korea successful in spite
of various difficulties. The administrative leadership provided by
Syungman Rhee and his political party gave the land reform
movement enough strength and direction to carry out its
objectives even during the Korean War.

The immediate results of land reform were the destruction
of the centuries-old feudalistic land tenure system and the
establishment of an owner-farming system. The short-term
impact of the land reform on agricultural productivity, farm
modernization, and rural savings tended to be rather negative.
The fragmentation of farmland still impedes the growth of
Korean agriculture, and is the target of future structural
adjustment policies designed to cope with industrial
modernization.

However, the long-term benefits of land reform are
enormous : an increase in agricultural productivity through
improving farm technology, human capital formation through
education of farm children and an equitable distribution of
income through relatively equal access to land. The egalitarian
distribution of land ownership indeed provided a social
foundation for the cooperation and participation of farmers in the
rural development drive in the 1970`s. Although the land reform
failed to add to the formation of industrial capital in the
short-run, the acquisition of industrial assets formerly owned by
the Japanese eventually led to the emergence of a new class of
industrialists.

Finally, for all the above reasons, it can be concluded that
land reform in part provided a base for Korea`s rapid economic
"growth with equity" during the 1960`s and 1970`s.
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