The role of government in research and development needs to evolve with changes in circumstance and institutions. In the past, because developing countries were at a low level of technological development, governments had to lay the foundations for building infrastructure, including the establishment of government research institutes and research complexes, and the promotion of national R&D projects. However, as developing countries improve their economic status, they need indigenous technological development and enterprises with resident R&D capabilities superior to those of government institutes. This is only possible through changes in the role of government. In this paper, we trace the growth of Korea as a developing country, and the Korean government's evolving role in the national R&D system. We also look at the government's role with respect to R&D and human capital.