Infrastructure expansion

The building of ports was seen as crucial in providing the physical infrastructure necessary for industry. Under the third Five-Year Plan (1972-1976), construction was begun of second-generation ports to handle bulk cargo, such as coal. The country needed large ports capable of handling large imports of raw materials needed for the nation’s economic development. The development of port facilities also helped support the establishment of the industrial parks.

The country’s transportation needs previously depended mainly on the railroads. The successful completion of the first three Five-Year Plans (1962-1976) led to the development of alternative transportation means, including expressways. The different transportation systems competed with, and complemented, each other. By 1976, the railroads accounted for 51 percent of the nation’s transport usage, down from 87 percent in 1962, while that for roads grew to 22 percent from 9 percent.

In the latter half of the 1970s, the country changed the focus of its road transportation policy due to new industrial demands. Under the second and third Five-Year Plans, the primary attention had been on the construction of expressways. With the fourth Five-Year Plan (1977-1981), the government concentrated more on the construction of industrial roads to support the development of HCIs. Expressway construction was focused on road projects that would link the industrial parks to the national expressway network.

In the early 1980s, the focus of expressway construction projects shifted to promoting balanced development among the regions. The two-lane Daejeon-Mokpo Expressway was expanded to four lanes to meet a sharp increase in traffic volume. Expressway sections suffering from chronic congestion were also expanded, including those on the Seoul-Incheon, Seoul-Busan, Daegu-Masan and South Coast Expressways. These road projects helped develop backward areas. The percentage of paved roads, which was still only 34 percent of total roads at the end of 1981, jumped to 54 percent in 1986.

From the 1970s to the early 1980s, multi-purpose dams were built across the country,1) which increased water supplies needed by a growing population and industry. They marked a turning point in tapping water resources on the lower reaches of the rivers.

The concept of water resources development, once confined to the development of small-scale irrigation facilities, expanded to cover the comprehensive development of whole river basins, both for water resource management and flood control. The dams also provided the basic infrastructure for further economic development.

Source : SaKong, Il and Koh, Youngsun, 2010. The Korean Economy Six Decades of Growth and Development. Seoul: Korea Development Institute.


1) On the Soyang, Andong, Daecheong, Chungju, Hapcheon, Juam and Imha Rivers, and the Nakdong River Estuary.