Daewoo moved into the construction industry, helping to make the new village movement, that was a part of the rural development program in Korea. The company was also able to take advantage of the emergent markets within the Middle East and within Africa. Daewoo was given its GTC designation during this time. Major investment assistance was provided by the South Korean government to the corporation in the form of subsidized loans. The competing countries were angered by South Korea's strict import controls, but the government knew that, without help, the chaebols would never endure the global recession caused by the oil crisis during the 1970s. Protectionist policies were essential to make sure that the economy continued to grow.
Daewoo's move into shipbuilding was required by the government, even if Kim felt that both Samsung and Hyundai had greater knowledge in heavy engineering and was more suitable to shipbuilding than Daewoo. Kim did not want to assume responsibility for the largest dockyard within the world, at Okpo. He said a lot of times that the government of Korea was stifling his entrepreneurial instinct by forcing him to carry out actions based on duty rather than profit. In spite of his unwillingness, Kim was able to turn Daewoo Shipbuilding and Heavy Machinery into a very successful company making competitively priced ships and oil rigs on a tight production timetable. This happened during the 1980s when South Korea's economy was experiencing a liberalization stage.
The government throughout this time was reducing its protectionist measures which helped to fuel the rise of small businesses and medium-sized businesses. Daewoo had to rid two of its textile corporations at this time and the shipbuilding business was beginning to attract more foreign competition. The government's goal was to shift to a free market economy by encouraging a more efficient allocation of resources. Such a policy was meant to make the chaebols more aggressive in their international dealings. Then again, the new economic climate caused some chaebols to fail. One of Daewoo's competitors, the Kukje Group, went into bankruptcy in the year 1985. The shift of government favour to small private businesses was intended to spread the wealth which had previously been concentrated within Seoul and Pusan, Korea's industrial centers.