Monday, January 31, 2011

19th Century Korea: Rise or Fall?


            What is the economic development in 19th Century Korea? Do you think it was prosperous or depreciating?

Eighteenth century Korea was an ever changing society in that century.  There are many factors that brought fourth these reforms.  Some of the things that changed Korea in the 19th century were:
·         Stable Population Growth
·         High Productivity per Capita
·         Weakening Central Government
·         New Technology
The biggest change to Korean culture in the 19th century was in my opinion new technologies.  New crops, forms of irrigation, and agricultural techniques allowed for more food to be produced and the increased higher productivity per capita.  More food leads to a societies ability to sustain a larger population.
Economic growth transformed Seoul from merely a center of government into a center of economic and cultural activity. With the rise of a wealthy merchant class came a challenge to the traditional Confucian social order. Gradually the financial successes of merchants forced some adjustments in social attitudes although scholarship continued to be seen as the most noble pursuit.
Seoul's expanding population required still more living space by the mid-1800's so the city pushed outward beyond its original walls. By this time, more foreign influences were seeping into Korea. Westerners and Japan were applying ever greater pressure on Korea to open up to trade.
By the late 1800's, Korea had been forced to end its long, self-imposed isolation. Japan, the U.S., and various European nations won trade treaties. With the opening up of foreign trade, Korea had to modernize its ports. It began to build a railroad to link the southern port city of Pusan to Seoul, and it gradually adopted other forms of western technology. Foreigners introduced new ideas as well as inventions to Seoul. At the same time, Korean diplomats and students who had gone abroad returned home with plans for improving and expanding their nation's capital. They wanted to model Seoul on the cities they had seen abroad.  With all this being said I think that overall, Korean society improved in the 19th century.

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