2.6 Korea - Small-scale Owner-operator

After independence, a number of motives led to a land reform. Political instability and the spread of communistic ideas, availability of land from former Japanese owners, hindrance of productivity increase, because the high rent made investments impossible, and the need to provide subsistence for the large number of refugees were of particular importance. The main goals of this reform, enacted in 1950 and implemented over a long period because of the disruption caused by the Korean war, were of an egalitarian type, like the abolition of tenancy, the limitation of land-ownership, and a land-to-the-tiller policy.

The ceiling was fixed at 3 ha (with the exception of institutional farms and perennial crops). By and large, the law was implemented. About 1.5 million peasants received 530,000 ha of land. The political and social instability caused by the former ownership pattern was removed, and the new owners responded to the increasing demand for food by the cities with a more intensive cultivation, application of fertilizers, expansion of double cropping, and production of fruit and vegetables. Tenancy was never abolished, but substantially reduced. The farms are rather small; only 2 per cent have more than 3 ha and another 5 per cent between 2-3 ha. The majority of the 2.5 million holdings are even smaller. Two-thirds = 1.7 .million are less than 1 ha, and about one-fourth = 670,000 have between 1-2 ha of land. The average size is 0.9 ha. While this farm structure met the needs of the post-war period, it has been the object of criticism in recent years with the rapid industrialization, increasing wage levels, beginning mechanization, considerable outmigration from agriculture, especially of the lowincome farmers.