• South Korea;
  • economic nationalism;
  • political economy;
  • automobile industry;
  • information and communication technology industry;
  • space industry

South Korea is one of the most successful newly industrialized countries in recent history in terms of sustained growth and wealth distribution where poverty has been mostly eradicated. This paper joins the argument that economic growth and development in Korea would have been unlikely to take off and develop without economic nationalism as a binding ingredient – or force – that has given direction to modernization policies. This paper asserts that economic nationalism in Korea is not necessarily a negative force and that it remains effective despite globalization and the neoliberal influence, which apparently undervalues it. In order to demonstrate the validity of the argument, three industries are compared and analyzed: the automotive, information and communication technology, and aerospace industries. The paper reviews the trajectories of these industries in accordance with the present and past stages of economic development in Korea. The relevance of the paper to the current scholarship is that in order to understand the contemporary political and economic developments in South Korea and their implications for the regional political economy it is necessary to recognize the issue of economic nationalism as explained here. The comparative method used to analyze the case studies provides a clearer picture of the evolutionary process and, hopefully, it helps the reader to discern likely future trends in Korean economic policy.