Accepted paper:

What is global Saemaul Undog in Africa? :The Case of its myth and reality in Rwanda


Joonhwa Cho (SOAS, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This article examines South Korea's recent interest in Africa in rapidly increasing their ODA budget. South Korea is promoting their aid modalities by claiming themselves to be proof of development. However, reality on the ground mirrors traditional donor trajectories.

Paper long abstract:

This article examines South Korea's enthusiasm in applying SaemaulUndong within their aid modalities, how delivery has taken place and its key goals. Since President Roh's tour of Africa in March 2006 (the first for 24 years), all following presidents have followed suit, pledging an increased ODA budget to an African region which has become Korea's second largest recipient continent (at around 20%). Meanwhile, Korea's developing aid modalities deliver the diplomatic rhetoric that Korea contributes by sharing their successful developmental experience, particularly in rural development through SaemaulUndong. Hence SeamulUndong would achieve poverty reduction in rural areas by changing local mind-sets through raising awareness of the spirit of "Diligence, Self-help and Cooperation". However, in this paper I argue that many associated persons in the field did not understand what SaemaulUndong constitutes, apart from core campaign slogans, and recipient counterparts used SaemaulUndong to manipulate Korean governmental agencies (which loved hearing of its use). In reality, project selection considered political and practical factors which would potentially guarantee best performance. Therefore, SaemaulUndong seems to have failed if its aim was to raise Saemaul leaders. On operational terms, its approach of awareness-raising was a component used by programmes in local communities to generate profits, in effect, via capitalism. Such interventions naturally stirred up quarrels among local participants and in the end no parties wholly took responsibility, shifting blame onto each other. In turn, South Korea is replicating what most western donors have done in practice.

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