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The Miracle of Han River: Korean Government Policy and Design Management in the

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Special Edition Reprint from the dmi: Review 40th Anniversary Issue


ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: vol.4 no.3, 1993

REPRINTED: vol.25 no.4, 2015



Kyung-Won Chung




By Sue Bencuya

If you are currently studying design or business, you surely should be learning about all the places in which they intersect. And there are a lot of people who might say that the physical intersection of design and business is currently located in Seoul, South Korea. Just read Euny Hong’s book The Birth of Korean Cool, and you’ll see what I mean.

As chair of industrial design at KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology), Kyung-Won Chung has been a friend of DMI since its earliest days—1981, in fact, when he met Peter Lawrence, DMI’s first director, at a design forum—and he has served on DMI’s advisory board for 11 years. Not only is he the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s chief design officer, but he is also its deputy mayor. In 2010, he oversaw Seoul’s status as a World Design Capital. He also established the Korea Institute of Design Management (KIDM).

I had the great pleasure of working with Dr. Chung (and his colleague Dr. Yu-Jin Kim) on a DMI/KIDM case study of Hyundai Motor that is now available from Harvard Business School Press. DMI’s case study program began in the mid-1980s, when then-president Earl Powell (in collaboration with Harvard Business School) commissioned more than a dozen case studies in a program directed by the late Karen Freeze, then director of research at DMI. It is safe to say that for many, many business students, these case studies provided an introduction to design and design management.

“The Miracle of Han River” was written in 1993, but it still remains an excellent overview of the past (and speculation on the future) of the Korean auto industry. Read on to the end for some recently-added commentary from Dr. Chung

Sue Bencuya is the editor of the Design Management Review and has worked on every issue of the magazine since it was first published 25 years ago. In 2012, she co-wrote (with Dr. Kyung-Won Chung and Dr. Yu-jin Kim) “Hyundai Motor Company: Design Takes the Driver’s Seat”—a DMI case study, now available from Harvard Business Publishing. She holds a master’s degree in English literature from Tufts University and has managed an independent editorial business since 1999.


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