South Korea after the 1997 economic crisis: a ‘paradigm shift’?

Edited by Eunna Lee-Gong

in Social Policy in Challenging Times

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9781847428288
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305521 | DOI:
South Korea after the 1997 economic crisis: a ‘paradigm shift’?

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Economic crises increase demands on affected states' welfare systems, and also present opportunities to rethink welfare policy. The 1997 Asian Economic Crisis placed South Korea in this position and generated a ‘paradigm shift’ in its welfare policy. This chapter reviews the development of the welfare system in South Korea prior to the crisis by highlighting key ideas that made it possible to maintain minimal state welfare provision in the absence of guaranteed social rights. It goes on to examine economic and social conditions after the crisis, as well as political changes taking place at that time, as a background to the ‘paradigm shift’ and the significant expansion of the welfare system. In the context of the impact of labour market reforms after the crisis, the chapter goes on to show that even with the shift, the revised welfare system has failed to mitigate the negative impact of neoliberal economic restructuring on many of those in need of welfare. By drawing attention to the demands of people made through democratic participation, and the impact of economic globalization, it opens up discussions on whether enhancing individual responsibility can be said to be a way forward in an era of economic crises.

Keywords: economic crisis; South Korea; social assistance; rights; responsibilities

Chapter.  7917 words. 

Subjects: Economic Sociology

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