This article outlines and analyzes the various factors that have shaped agriculture and rural life in South Korea. This paper first outlines the historical role of the government, farmers and the public in influencing and shaping agrarian life from 1961 to 1992. Second, it looks at the effects of deregulating the agricultural economy over the last two decades. Finally, based on this historical analysis, it considers the present and future course of agriculture/rural life in South Korea. In particular, this article argues that stabilizing and enhancing the agricultural industry and rural life depends on 1) the South Korean government crafting sensible, democratic agrarian policies that give farmers the flexibility and power to adapt to the continually changing global economy and 2) farmers developing an infrastructure of power through which to strengthen economic positions, influence policy making and shape cultural trends. In short, the survival of agriculture and rural life under an industrial/urban centered-global economy requires a process of retrofitting agrarian institutions, structures and cultures in ways that not only ensure social and economic diversity and stability, but also national security through food self-sufficiency.