South Korea: Balancing Social Welfare in Post-industrial Society

  • Hyunsook Yoon

Korean society is experiencing significant transformation as the country faces the challenges of global integration. The financial crisis of 1997 was a costly wake-up call, alarming in the astonishing extent of the interconnectedness of the global economy. It demonstrated that no country can pursue development without regarding intersocietal standards or the requirements of global capital. And, at the same time, its deleterious social consequences made a significant transformation in the welfare system in South Korea. While the Korean government faithfully followed the neoliberal suggestions, attached to the IMF’s lending programs, it earnestly pursued an expansion and consolidation of social welfare programs as well. The crisis accelerated the process of transition from the precrisis ‘developmental state’ model to the ‘democratic-welfare-capitalist state’ (Lee, 2004) or ‘to the inclusive developmental welfare state’ (Kwon, 2007), in the context of the government’s welfare reforms. These changes in themselves will shape social welfare in the country, as it traverses into the global century.


National Health Insurance Korean Government Welfare Reform Public Pension Social Spending 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Ahn, J. (2006). Nonstandard work in Korea – the origin of wage differentials. Seoul: Mimeo, Korea Labor Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Cook, S., & Kwon, H. J. (2007). Social protection in East Asia. Global Social Policy, 7(2), 223–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Gough, I. (2001). Globalization and regional welfare regimes: The East Asian case. Global Social Policy, 1(2), 163–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Hwang, D. S. (2003). The coverage of employment insurance and national pension: The causes of the gap between the law and the actual coverage and policy alternatives. Journal of Labor Policy (Korea Labor Institute), 3, 87–109 [in Korean].Google Scholar
  5. Jones, R. S. (2008). Public social spending in Korea in the context of rapid population ageing. OECD Economics Department Networking Papers No. 615.Google Scholar
  6. Kwon, H. J. (2002). Welfare reform and future challenges in the Republic of Korea: Beyond the developmental welfare state? International Social Security Review, 55, 23–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kwon, H. J. (2007). Transforming the developmental welfare states in East Asia. DESA Working Paper No. 40.Google Scholar
  8. Lee, H. K. (1999). Neo-liberalism, social exclusion and welfare clients in a global economy. International Journal of Social Welfare, 8(1), 23–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Lee, H. K. (2004). Welfare reforms in post-crisis Korea: Dilemmas and choices. Social Policy & Society, 3(3), 291–299.Google Scholar
  10. Moon, H. (2006). Population Aging and Sustainability of the National Pension System. Mimeo, Seoul: Korea Development Institute.Google Scholar
  11. Peng, I. (2004). Postindustrial pressures, political regime shifts, and social policy reform in Japan and South Korea. Journal of East Asian Studies, 4, 389–425.Google Scholar
  12. Shin, C. S., & Shaw, I. (2003). Social policy in South Korea: Cultural and structural factors in the emergence of welfare. Social Policy & Administration, 37(4), 328–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Song, H. K. (2003). The birth of a welfare state in Korea: The unfinished symphony of democratization and globalization. Journal of East Asian Studies, 3, 405–432.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social WelfareHallym UniversitySouth Korea

Personalised recommendations