In this ambitious and innovative study Gregg Brazinsky examines
American nation building in South Korea during the Cold War.
Marshaling a vast array of new American and Korean sources, he
explains why South Korea was one of the few postcolonial nations
that achieved rapid economic development and democratization by the
end of the twentieth century. Brazinsky contends that a distinctive
combination of American initiatives and Korean agency enabled South
Korea's stunning transformation. On one hand, Americans supported
the emergence of a developmental autocracy that spurred economic
growth in a highly authoritarian manner. On the other hand,
Americans sought to encourage democratization from the bottom up by
fashioning new institutions and promoting a dialogue about
modernization and development.
Expanding the framework of traditional diplomatic history,
Brazinsky examines not only state-to-state relations, but also the
social and cultural interactions between Americans and South
Koreans. He shows how Koreans adapted, resisted, and transformed
American influence and promoted socioeconomic change that suited
their own aspirations. Ultimately, Brazinsky argues, Koreans'
capacity to tailor American institutions and ideas to their own
purposes was the most important factor in the making of a
democratic South Korea.