Engaging Citizens in Society


The article describes the emerging movement around social innovation in South Korea that is based on the core principle of engaging citizens at the grassroots level. South Korea is one of the few countries to succeed in political transformation while maintaining political stability for decades. Those notable gains, however, have come with some significant downsides: social inequality, serious environmental degradation, the highest suicide rates among OECD countries, a dangerously low birth rate, rampant unemployment, worsening intergenerational conflict, and a weak social welfare system coupled with the destruction of community and social bonds. Clearly, South Korea has great social needs. But there is also great potential in the ability of social innovation to meet the country’s formidable challenges. Social innovation, done right, can help solve social problems and promote sustainable growth by engaging citizens, promoting and supporting more comprehensive and inclusive policies, and directing business interests toward the gaps in the social fabric and social services provision.