Bad and Good Inequality in the Advance of the Korean Literacy

32 Pages Posted: 5 Mar 2018

Date Written: February 24, 2018


This paper identifies two distinct types of inequality affecting the advance of the Korean literacy in opposite ways. Literacy improvement in colonial Korea was checked by the presence of landed elite with pre-colonial origins, but helped by the development of profit-seeking land tenancy associated with contractual formalization. Abolishing both the aristocratic and market-oriented landlordism, the post-colonial land redistribution accelerated the advance of literacy by destroying the structural inequality, rather than by reducing the market inequality. It is thus imperative for policymakers to identify the nature of inequality they face before embarking on redistribution.

Keywords: Status Order, Land Tenancy, Literacy, Korea

JEL Classification: I24, I25, N35

Suggested Citation

Cha, Myung Soo, Bad and Good Inequality in the Advance of the Korean Literacy (February 24, 2018). Available at SSRN: or

Myung Soo Cha (Contact Author)

Yeungnam University ( email )

280 Daehak-ro
Kyungsan, Kyungsan 38541
Korea, Republic of (South Korea)

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