Engineers for Korea

Engineers for Korea

Kyonghee Han, Gary Lee Downey
ISBN: 9781627050760 | PDF ISBN: 9781627050777
Copyright © 2015 | 197 Pages | Publication Date: 06/01/2014

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What does it mean to be an engineer in the Republic of Korea (South Korea)? This book explores how a military government sought to elevate engineers from low-level technical workers to iconic leaders of export-led industrialization. The effort did not work. Even as the country became an industrial powerhouse, the makers of engineers never found approaches to techno-national formation (engineering education and training) that Koreans would wholly embrace. Indeed, the continuing flow of men into engineering through the military had the additional effect of suppressing the participation of women.

This book follows the struggles of engineers trying to identify with Korea as a whole - to be "for Korea." It is for engineers, both Korean and non-Korean, who want reflect critically on the specific challenges they have experienced as persons as they sought to become and work as engineers. It is for non-engineers who encounter or are affected by Korean engineers and engineering, and want to understand and engage them. It is for researchers who recognize that the making of engineers has both technical and social dimensions and want to help engineers analyze and deal with them.


Engineers for Korea (Korean translation), by Kyonghee Han and Gary Lee Downey, has been named a 2017 Sejong Book by the Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, on the recommendation of a distinguished committee of Korean scholars. The certification honors books that "have high value as academic texts and improve the public's reading culture." It carries an award of ten million Won ($8,900) to pay for distributing copies across the country. Many schools and universities encourage students to read Sejong Books. The Ministry established the Sejong competition in 1968 in honor of King Sejong the Great (1397-1450), known for his support for Korean identity through "science" (investigation of things), Confucianism, and creating the Hangul alphabet.

The selection process considered books in three main categories: academic, literature, and popular culture. A committee of 85 scholars from prestigious universities and institutes ranked 625 books in the academic subcategory of "technology and science." Engineers for Korea is one of 49 books selected.

Humanity Press, publisher of the translation, announced that it will soon release a second printing.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
What Are Korean Engineers For
Five Koreas Without Korean Engineers: 1876-1960
Technical Workers for Light Industry: 1961-1970
Engineers for Heavy and Chemical Industries: 1970-1979
Loss of Privilege and Visibility: 1980-1998
Engineers for a Post-Catch-Up Korea?
Engineers and Korea
Author Biographies

About the Author(s)

Kyonghee Han, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea
Kyonghee Han received her Ph.D. from the Department of Sociology at Yonsei University and is now an assistant professor in the Engineering Education Innovation Center at Yonsei University. She teaches Engineering and Society and Engineering Ethics in the College of Engineering. She has conducted research on how the social roles and identities of engineering and engineers have formed and changed. Her recent research examines how engineers have recognized and changed their sense of social responsibility in relation to a series of technological controversies that have taken place in Korea. She also develops and operates various programs to promote the innovation of engineering curricula.

Gary Lee Downey, Virginia Tech
Gary Downey is Alumni Distinguished Professor of Science and Technology Studies and affiliated professor of Women's and Gender Studies at Virginia Tech. A mechanical engineer (B.S., Lehigh) and cultural anthropologist (Ph.D., University of Chicago), he is the author of The Machine in Meand co-editor of Cyborgs and Citadels and What Is Global Engineering Education For? He edits the Engineering Studies Series (MIT Press), Global Engineering Series (Morgan & Claypool Publishers), and Engineering Studies journal (Routledge/Taylor & Francis). He is co-founder of the International Network for Engineering Studies, as well as founder of the Engineering Cultures course. He serves as President of the Society for Social Studies of Science (2013-2015).

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