5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center

The Role of the Federal Republic of Germany in the Industrialization of the Republic of Korea during the Park Chung Hee Era

Though Germany and Korea were both divided following World War II, the linkages between, as well as the shared historical experiences of, West Germany and South Korea during the Cold War have seldom been explored.

Relying on documents from German archives as well as oral history testimonies, Meung-Hoan Nohshort-term Wilson Center scholar and Professor in the Department of History, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, will present on the relationship between West Germany and South Korea's industrialization during the Park Chung Hee era.

During the early Cold War, West Germany achieved radical economic prosperity (the so called “economic miracle of Rhine”) and this historical process was particularly impressive in the eyes of the South Koreans. Park Chung Hee, who ruled South Korea from 1961 until his death in 1979, watched West Germany closely, eager to obtain developmental assistance from a foreign ally and discover an economic model which fit the Republic of Korea.

Park eventually visited West Germany in order to enhance the political and economic relations between the two countries and to discuss the common task of anti-communism through the economic success with Ludwig Erhard, the then Federal Chancellor. Through the visit, the Republic of Korea obtained financial and industrial assistance from West Germany, assistance which contributed to South Korea’s ongoing industrialization.

In his presentation, Professor Noh will explore the ebb and flow of relations between West Germany and South Korea beginning with Park Chung Hee's visit in 1964 and concluding with the so called "Berlin Affair" in 1967.

Joining Noh on the panel are Bernd Schaefer, Senior Scholar, Cold War International History Project, and Junya Nishino, Japan Scholar, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law and Politics, Keio University, Japan.

James F. Person, Senior Program Associate for the History and Public Policy Program and coordinator for the North Korea International Documentation Project, will chair the event.


  • Meung-Hoan Noh

    Short-Term Scholar
    Professor, Department of History and Department of Archival Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
  • Bernd Schaefer

    Global Fellow, Former Senior Scholar
    Professional Lecturer, The George Washington University
  • James Person

    Global Fellow
    Professor of Korean Studies and Asia Programs, JHU SAIS; Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Institute, SAIS
  • Junya Nishino

    Japan Scholar
    Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, Faculty of Law and Politics, Keio University, Japan