Civil Society Program


Thematic Research

Director: Hyun-Chin Lim (Dept. of Sociology, SNU Emeritus Professor)
Co-Researchers: Suk-Ki Kong (SNUAC), Sunggyu Kim (SNUAC), Taekyoon Kim (Graduate School of Int’l Studies),
Myungjoon Park (Korea Labor Institute), Youngshin Jung (Jeju Univ.)

− Research on the topography of Korean civil society: establishment of a database of basic statistics on Korean civil society organizations
− Research on civil society centered around the social economy as an alternative form of globalization : analysis of regionally based cooperative associations and investigation of measures for their vitalization
− Research collaboration and establishment of research networks among Korean, Japanese and Chinese scholars: Annual Korea-Japan political sociology workshop and workshop on the Hong Kong Democratization after the Umbrella Revolution
− Comparative study of Korea-Japan CSR: focusing on cases of regionally based CSR between each country
− Dynamic analysis of the cooperative, conflicting, and competitive relationships between business, government, and civil society
− Research on participation in international development cooperation of Asian civil society

Activation, Possibilities, and Limitations of Civil Society and Regional Co-operatives

Research Topics
CSP’s core projects for 2015 were “Mapping Korean Civil Society” and “Study on Activating Regional Co-operatives.” The former, as a project to develop a database for Korean NGOs, was funded by the Prime Minister’s Office in 2014 and the Ministry of the Interior in 2015. The latter conducted case studies on the activities of region-based social economy
organizations (co-operatives, village corporations, social enterprises, etc.), thereby analyzing the possibilities and limitations of how Korean civil society groups intervene in the social economy.

Major Research Outcomes
Throughout the past three years of carrying out the Mapping Korean Civil Society Project in stages, CSP has proposed a policy agenda concerning key types of the Korean NGOs database, direction of change in civil societies, and database development. So far, the database for Korean civil society groups had been collected using two categories: non-profit
private organization data from the Ministry of the Interior and the Directory of Korean NGOs. However, an inspection of all data from both categories indicated that due to the lack of systematic database management and updating, the credibility of data collected during the past 10 years was questionable. The main causes of such credibility issues were an insufficient budget and the absence of a research management agent.

Furthermore, it was revealed that while the Assistance for Non-Profit, Non-Governmental Organization Act focuses on the registration of organizations, the Act does not reflect any subsequent modifications in registered organizations (changes in address, dissolution, etc.) as there are no regulations on information management. As a result, the 2015 Database on Korean NGOs fails to appropriately reflect currently active grassroots organizations and civil societies that are devoting their capabilities to new sectors such as social economic activity, assistance for socially disadvantaged individuals and minorities, and international development cooperation. CSP proposed that in order to overcome the previously mentioned
data reliability problem, revision of law and regulations would be a priority. To ensure the consistent management and updating of the information regarding civil society organizations, CSP further suggested a policy agenda to constitute a national-level civil society database management council.

The case study on various social economy organizations from regions considered, which was conducted with funding from the Ministry of Strategy and Finance, was successful in terms of regional co-operative activity, but left behind several problems and tasks. Recent investigation results of co-operatives, now numbering approximately 8,000, are quite astonishing. On-site inspections revealed that only 10% of the co-operatives in each region were actually active. The inspections consisted of visiting research and interviews about social economy hub characteristics, success factors, and limitations of 12 selected regions including Mapo, Jongno, and Wonju.