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‘Participatory Welfare’ is the term coined by the current Roh Moo-hyun government to distinguish its welfare reform from the previous Kim Dae-jung government’s ‘Productive Welfare’ policies. While the use of term ‘participatory’ is a convenient extension of its slogan ‘Participatory Government’, the details of Participatory Welfare are still evolving and results have yet to be seen. Observed from the documents and policies proposed or implemented so far, it has two key dimensions: promoting ‘participation’ and building up of a ‘welfare community’. The reforms are located in a context of civil society calling for greater participation and reforms in an increasingly polarized society. Besides continuing the reforms initiated by the previous government, new and strengthened emphasis has been put on promoting welfare rights and redistributions, fostering gender equality and inclusion, and the citizen’s participation in the provision and management of welfare services. Yet, it also emphasizes the traditional view of individual and community responsibility. The reforms are both progressive and conservative in nature and are still to be subjected to reality’s test. The reforms are facing challenges from the opposition – political parties, traditional elites, bureaucracy, capitalists and even the trade unions. It is doubtful whether the community and individuals are so ready to take up the expected roles and duties.


CAPS Working Paper Series No.174 (Sep 06)

Recommended Citation

Chan, K. H. R. (2006). Participatory welfare in South Korea : meaning and issues (CAPS Working Paper Series No.174). Retrieved from Lingnan University website: