Saemaul concepts to be part of Korea ODA

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Saemaul concepts to be part of Korea ODA

The government said yesterday that it will develop customized models of the Saemaul Movement, Korea’s rural development scheme, for the developing countries it tries to help.

The decision, made by an international development cooperation committee presided over by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, comes as the country tries to further incorporate concepts from the Saemaul Movement into its Official Development Assistance.

“The Saemaul Movement package will be customized as support for livestock-farming or support for agriculture, according to the situations of each developing nation,” said an official from the Prime Minister’s Office. “It will also be augmented by measures to increase incomes, medical support and to improve literacy before being introduced as pilot Saemaul Movement projects in recipient countries.”

The government will create a task force at the Prime Minister’s Office in charge of ODA programs and the Saemaul Movement, the official said.

A major project of the Park Chung Hee administration in the 1970s, the Saemaul Movement was aimed at boosting economic activities in rural areas and accelerating a nationwide industrialization as part of five-year economic plans.

Under the movement, the government provided rural leaders with educational and administrative guidance to raise the productivity of farmers and fishermen. The government also provided goods needed for rural development, such as fertilizer, pesticides and seeds, and infrastructure such as dams, reservoirs and dikes.

The movement is renowned for eliminating absolute poverty from Korea’s rural area, but critics said it was only possible under the circumstances existing in Korea at the time, which put priority on collectivism over individualism. It was also run during a dictatorship.

Some scholars, however, have said it could be applied in developing countries in Africa and Asia.

Korea wants to increase the amount of its ODA budget from 1 trillion won ($866 million) last year to 3 trillion won in 2015.


By Moon Gwang-lip, Park Seung-hee [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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