Saemaul Undong, Contributing to the Development of the Republic of Korea

National Designated Records

  • Heritage
  • National Designated Records
  • “ What is Saemaul Undong Archives as the National Designated Records? ”

    Definition of Saemaul Undong Archives

    The Saemaul Undong Archives was originally proposed Saemaul Undong by the President at the annual local governors’ meeting held on April 22, 1970, meeting on April 22, 1970, and related materials produced by the Presidential Secretariat, the central and local governments, the Saemaul leaders, the villagers and the Training Institute of Saemaul Leaders.

    The Saemaul Undong Archives are the comprehensive record of the rural modernization that has developed in over 34,000 villages across the country. The Archives are the testimony of Korea’s modernization that the government and villagers worked together to successfully achieve poverty eradication, improvement of village environment, development of Saemaul spirit, social participation of rural women, and leadership development of villagers. Therefore, the Saemaul Undong Archives are the original documents that show how the Saemaul Undong has been planned and proceeded and what has changed.

    Between 1970 and 1979, records produced by central and local governments are preserved at the National Archives of Korea. The records produced by the Training Institute of Saemaul Leaders, Saemaul leaders and villages are preserved at the Korea Saemaul Undong Center.

    Achievements of Saemaul Undong Archives

    The Korea, which was poor and difficult due to the Korean war, achieved poverty eradication, rural development and rapid economic development through the Saemaul Undong from 1970 to 1979. It contributed to social development such as the spread of Saemaul spirit (diligence, self-help, and cooperation) and Korea as the 10th largest economy in the world.

    In addition, the United Nations World Food Program (UNWFP) and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) have been attracting attention in the international community as a model for poverty eradication.

    The Saemaul Undong Archives are preserved in the Korea Saemaul Undong Cener and specified as the National Designated Records by the Government in 2011.

  • Income improvement
    and scientific farming

    The Saemaul Undong Archives are the records of rural development history that realizes farm income improvement and scientific farming by introducing group work, improvement of farm road, redevelopment of arable land, introduction of agricultural machinery, expansion of new farming method.

    Reforming consciousness
    and mental revolution

    Without the mental revolution, the Saemaul Undong was impossible. The Saemaul Undong Archives are the records of reforming consciousness and mental revolution that has brought a variety of educational opportunities to farmers, women, and Saemaul leaders, and has led to a spirit of ownership and pioneering spirit that has escaped from dependence and fatalism.

    Community development
    with villagers’

    The reason why the Saemaul Undong has achieved success and has continued to develop is due to its active participation and self-help spirit. The Saemaul Undong Archives is the records of the development of villages achieved through the voluntary participation of villagers.

    Expansion of social
    participation and position
    of women

    Rural women actively participated in the Saemaul Undong. Women who were excluded from the village meeting due to discrimination against men and women were elected as Saemaul leaders by exercising their voice and voting rights, thereby increasing the social participation of rural women and improving their status.
  • Records produced by the Training Institute of Saemaul Leaders

    The Training Institute of Saeamul Leaders produced educational materials as a place where Saemaul leaders were continuously trained. The Saemaul training emphasized practical education such as mental education of diligence, self-help, and cooperation, discussion, success stories, field trips, and scientific farming skills. The materials on Saemaul training include textbooks, success story slides, lecture record tapes, trainees’ lists, records of training, discussion charts, and oral stated materials of the Saemaul Undong interested in the 1970s.

    Records produced by the Saemaul leaders

    The Saemaul Undong conducted by Saemaul leaders nationwide, has produced a number of success stories, letters, complimentary copies and other diverse records. Success stories have spread to other villages as the vivid activities of Saemaul leaders who overcame the poor environment and succeeded in the Saemaul project, contributing to the spread of successful Saemaul Undong model.
    The letters from the Saemaul leaders are not only the voice of the difficulties to the Director of the Saemaul Training who has trained them, but also a place for communication to solve problems by gathering strengths through the advice of the director.

    Documentary Materials from Individual Villages

    Individual villages also produced documents related to Saemaul Undong. These include village regulations, minutes of community meetings, prospectuses, worksheets, budget reports, and result reports, many of them handwritten, and preserved as archival material. The community meeting minutes record in detail the dates and times of meetings, project names, agenda of discussions, problems and countermeasures, and work results. They offer glimpses into how the movement was conducted in each village.


    The best sources to look at the news of villagers who overcame poverty and adversity through the Saemaul Undong are Saemaul pictorial magazine and and Monthly Saemaul. The Saemaul pictorial magazine was published in 1972 by the Presidential Secretariat and published until 1987. The color images of all the people in the country can be seen in detail, as well as the diverse activities of the villagers at that time and regional success stories. It was also translated in English and Japanese since 1974.
    The Monthly Saemaul was published by the Korea Information Service in 1972 and published until 1989. The Monthly Saemaul contains informative cultural information that can be read by readers such as serial novels, comics, and various Saemaul Undong articles.
    The Monthly Saemaul from September, 1976 to April, 1979 was alternately published in rural and urban issues.