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Social Policy in Challenging TimesEconomic Crisis and Welfare Systems$
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Kevin Farnsworth and Zoe Irving

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428288

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428288.001.0001

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

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

(p.119) Seven South Korea after the 1997 economic crisis: a ‘paradigm shift’?
Social Policy in Challenging Times
Eunna Lee-Gong
Policy Press

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

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