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The Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has functioned as South Korea’s central institute for weapons research and development (R&D) since 1970, when it was established by the Park Chung Hee regime (1961–79). As argued in this article, this quasi-private, quasi-public military institute also fostered major advancements of science and technology during the transformative decade of South Korea’s “militarized industrialization,” the 1970s, with a lasting impact on the private sector and business relations with the state. Drawing from in-person interviews with living scientists who worked on military projects of the Park state, as well as official records of the ADD and recently declassified government documents, the article tells the story of the ADD’s founding and details how, as a key player in Park’s pursuit of security independence, the agency spurred technological innovation and industrialization. Through weapons development, the ADD localized R&D, facilitated technological collaboration, established quality control and standardization methods within corporations, and enhanced the scientific workforce with advanced training, altogether promoting the scientization of the Korean private sector. By merging state and business efforts, and by combining military with civilian strengths, the ADD led a process of national scientization and technological governance that still operates at the heart of Korean economic growth today.
Journal of Korean Studies – Duke University Press
Published: Mar 1, 2023
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