Fate to be failed? Interpretations and responses of different layers of government in the social welfare delivery system reform in Korea

Bo-Yung Kim & Lee Bae Kim

A social welfare system reform to establish ‘welfare hub’ in Dong Resident Centre (frontline office of local government) across the country is underway and expected to be implemented this year in Korea. It is to provide an integrated access and embrace the hard-to-reaches in the welfare provision. The original idea of the reform was developed in the study commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Welfare in 2012 then included in the presidential agenda of the newly elected Park Geun Hye Government. In this reform, four different models have been suggested from full integration of two or three centres to functional enhancement without significant organizational change: integration model, base model, partial base model, and enhancement model.

However, the reform is appeared to be not very well accepted by local governments. For example, in the survey of local government managers in organization department, the majority of them responded that integration model and base model were inappropriate (about seventy and sixty per cent respectively) as well as unrealistic (about ninety per cent and seventy per cent).  The enhancement model, which requires the least change, was accepted as realistic (over seventy per cent) but only half of managers said appropriate. This is one of the reasons why only enhancement model is planned to be implemented this year and other models will be reconsidered through pilots by recruited local authorities.

This is the study to explorer interpretation and responses of different layers of administration in local government regarding this social welfare delivery reform. As a case study, fifty-six public servants working for local government in Kyungsangbuk-do (East-South region of Korea) were interviewed through focus groups regarding issues of welfare delivery, implementation process of the reform, and their expectations. Thirty-two of them were working in district or county level and twenty-four were in frontline office. This would contribute to understanding how central reform is proceeded through interaction among various actors in local government.

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Kim, B. Y. & L. B. Kim. 2014. “Fate to be failed? Interpretations and responses of different layers of government in the social welfare delivery system reform in Korea” presented at  the 11th EASP Annual Conference

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