SOUTH KOREA: Normality

Business as usual in Seoul

Once the initial shock of the assassination had passed and the period of national mourning was over, South Koreans made a surprising and pleasant discovery: the country was actually getting along quite well without the late President Park Chung Hee. "Why, it's beautiful," said a young schoolteacher, Kim Sung Ho. "Our country runs itself."

Well, not quite. Still, Park had totally dominated the country for 18 years, and many citizens had feared his abrupt death would spell instant chaos. Yet there had been no panic, no runs on banks, no scrambles to hoard food. Instead, the prosperous...