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Agrarian Conflict and the Origins of Korean Capitalism

American Journal of Sociology

To fully appreciate the uneven, conflict-ridden, historical transition from an agrarian to an industrial economy in East Asia, this article examines the Korean case through agrarian conflict theory, which views agrarian conflict and its resolution as key to capitalist trans- formation. In particular, the article explores how this conflict influenced colonial industrialization and land reform, which crucially shaped the path of Korea’s transformation. Agrarian conflict theory is shown to greatly enhance the current understanding of Korean (and by extension East Asian) transformation by examining more than just the political economy of development.