why didn't Park Chung-hee dismantle / freeze growth of Seoul metropolitan area?

the guy was a dictator for 18 years and spent much effort on military defense to counter northern threat, even up to trying to make nuclear weapons. So why didn’t he try to avoid this situation of having half the country’s population and wealth concentrated in one convenient spot within range of enemy artillery? E.g. why couldn’t he restrict investment in the Seoul area and instead encourage economic development and urbanization in the south of the peninsula?

The thing was it’s easy to predict in hindsight South Korea would be industrialized and modern, but back then who knew?

If Park Chung-hee had restricted industrialization or had tried to redirect it, it might not have been redirected, it might have gone elsewhere.

People want to build where the “action” is not where they are told to necessarily. If someone says "I want to invest in your country you don’t put too many restrictions on them, especially when Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore are more than happy to take the business

It was better to have the area be built up and hope that no war would come rather than risk having no development.

You can try things like moving the capital, which South Korea did try to do, but it doesn’t always help. Brasillia did develop into a modern city but it didn’t halt the growth of Rio much.

I somehow had the impression that the foreign investment and all other forms of investment were tightly controlled in South Korea. Why wouldn’t a crony capitalist, fascist regime not be able to decide where to build the factories and the housing for peasants newly arrived from the countryside?

Perhaps most of the farmland the cronies owned was on the then-outskirts of Seoul. They wouldn’t want to direct the construction elsewhere if that was the case.

Foreign investment can only be controlled to the extent it is willing to enter the country. If Park had tried to redirect development into other parts of Korea, it would have raised costs and investors would have decided to put their money in another country.

Korea was pretty much a third world country back then. What little infrastructure we had was all in Seoul. It’s easier to encourage growth in a place that has something to start off with, I’m guessing. I suppose no one predicted that Seoul would grow so quickly.

Park did try to encourage growth in other areas (particularly in Daegu, his hometown) but no one was really interested in taking a risk by investing outside of Seoul.

Or so I vaguely remember from high school history.

Besides, dictators *love *huge capitals. They can’t help it.

I was coincidentally reading a book yesterday that discussed the subject of why some countries develop successfully and others don’t. The author’s theory is that the best climate for development is one where you have a single organization running the country - examples he gave were China, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Vietnam, and South Korea. In these countries investors can make deals with one group and know the deal will stick. The alternatives are countries where there are no organization or countries where there are competing organizations - examples he gave were India, the Philipines, most African countries, and post-Soviet Russia. In these countries investors couldn’t find anyone they could make a deal with they could count on to be able to hold up their end of the deal. Some of these countries had better records for democracy and free markets but they lacked institutionalized continuity.