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Civil Society and NGOs Program

The objective of the Civil Society and NGOs Program (CSP) is in carrying out comparative research into how the civil society of each country in Asia adapts and evolves in accordance with the progress of globalization. Over the past four years, the program has conducted research on Korean civil society, developed a national NGO database, and created a network connecting researchers of East Asian civil society. Building on this foundation, the program now pursues a more specialized research by differentiating the subject and scope of analysis into Korean civil society, Asian civil society, and global civil society. Four major projects have been developed—“Mapping Korean Civil Society,” “Social Economics and Civil Society for an Alternative Globalization,” “Asian International Development Cooperation and Civil Society,” and “Comparative Analysis of Civil Society Movements in Korea, China, and Japan.” As part of its research on Asian civil society, the program is preparing to build a database of major NGOs in each Asian country.

Research Topics

In 2016, CSP published Drawing the Landscape of Civil Society in South Korea, a compilation of the results of quantitative research conducted over the previous three years in order to map out Korean civil society. Furthermore, in an attempt to qualitatively supplement the quantitative research, the program is planning a research project entitled “Renewing Korean Civil Society,” gauging new phenomena in Korean civil society and confirming the need to present developmental direction in the future through an analysis of the qualitative changes in Korean civil society over the past ten years. CSP researchers played a pivotal role in holding workshops analyzing, diagnosing problems, and prescribing solutions for recent issues arising in Korean society such as civic participation, social economics, developmental cooperation, conflicts in regional policy, labor, and corporations. A compilation of the papers presented at the six workshops of the project is expected to be published in the first half of 2017.

CSP conducted site visits and interviews of grassroots movements concentrated around the greater Seoul metropolitan area in 2016. The results of the survey were combined with 2015 research on activation plans for regionally based cooperatives and published in a book entitled “Between Residents and Citizens: Scoping Out the Socioeconomic Activities of Korean Civil Society” in February 2017.

Furthermore, following the sixth annual joint conference between the Korean Association of Political Sociology (KAPS) and the Association for the Study of Political Society (ASOPS) in November 2015, Prof. Toru Oga (Kyushu Univ.) and Dr. Suk-Ki Kong of SNUAC agreed to conduct comparative research into the dynamic characteristics of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in regional civil society in Korea and Japan and carried out two reciprocal visits and research topic development workshops over six months. The results were drafted as an international cooperation research plan titled “Comparative Analysis of Korea-Japan CSR in the Regional Community” and submitted to respective Korean and Japanese research foundations in September 2016. The workshops will be regularly held in Seoul and Fukuoka every six months, and in the next two years, we are expecting an expansion of the international network of participating researchers.

Major Research Outcomes

The following books have been published as a result of CSP research. Drawing the Landscape of Civil Society in South Korea: The Census on the Basic Characteristic of Civil Society Organizations by Suk-ki Kong and Hyun-Chin Lim (Zininzin, June 2016) organizes the results of the “Basic Statistics on Korean Civil Society Organizations Development Project” which has been carried out in stages since 2013. This volume is a comprehensive statistical report analyzing changes in the topography of Korean civil society. In particular, it has great significance in that, through nation-wide surveys, it provides empirical basis with which the characteristics of movements by field and area can be ascertained, where previously accurate diagnosis and prescription of Korean civil society was exceedingly difficult due to the lack of basic statistics.

Published in August 2016, Seoul Civil Society Investigated by the HASK CAI by Suk-Ki Kong and Chulmin Cho (Hakyesa) is the product of cooperation between CSP and SSK-NGO research project of the Hanil Univ. Graduate School of NGO Policy. The research focused on the Hanil SSK-NGO Civic Action Index (HASK CAI), which is based on the four concepts of social activism, sustainability, environmental adaptability, and political-institutional conditions, in order to consider both the universality and distinctiveness of Korean civil society at the same time. The Project analyzed the dynamics of civil society groups in Seoul, approaching it as a singular area. The researchers assessed 10 independent groups in Seoul, focusing on the aforementioned four aspects of the civic action index, and compared the differences and characteristics among the groups by district.

Lastly, Between Residents and Citizens: Scoping Out the Socio-Economic Activities of Korean Civil Society by Suk-Ki Kong and Hyun-Chin Lim (Zininzin) focuses on the town as the starting point and impetus of recently activated socio-economic activities and places its objective in conducting an in-depth analysis of the socio-economic activities carried out in the grassroots dimension. The research divided the country into seven broad zones and collected abundant qualitative data through site visits and interviews with local enterprises, social enterprises, cooperatives, and NGOs in 25 areas.

Outlook and Tasks for the Future

CSP strives to conduct full-scale research on Asian civil society. The Program plans to build a basic database of Asian civil society titled “Introducing Asian Civil Society” and, using this as a foundation, conduct in-depth surveys of representative NGOs by region and country in the medium and long-term. The development of these surveys and database of major Asian NGOs is expected to take four years. In the first year (2017), the Program will focus on collecting and analyzing data to map civil society of Asia as a whole. In the second year (2018), the Program will conduct a comparative analysis by country, area, and sphere by investigating the results of questionnaire surveys and literature on the organizations selected the previous year. In the third and fourth years (2019–2020), CSP will divide Asia into five broad areas—Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, South Asia—and carry out in-depth surveys of the selected NGOs by area and country. The data collected during the four years of the project will be published in two volumes titled “Introducing Wild Card NGOs, Asian Civil Society” at two-year intervals. The first volume will be a quantitative study comparatively analyzing characteristics by region and sphere, and the second volume will present case studies of representative NGOs by region and country.


Suk-ki Kong, Hyun-chin Lim (2016). <Drawing the Landscape of Civil Society in South Korea: The Census on the Basic Characteristics of Civil Society Organizations>. Zininzin

Suk-ki Kong and Chul-min Cho (2016). <Seoul Civil Society Investigated by the HASK CAI (Civic Action Index)>. Hakyesa

Jae-yeol Yee, Hyun-chin Lim (2016). <Connected Asia: An Intellectual Map of Flows and Relations>. SNU Press

Suk-ki Kong (2016). Scoping Out the Capacity of Seoul-Based Civil Society Organizations with Reference to Nested Political Opportunity Structure and Civic Action Index. Theology and Society Vol.30, No. 2

Young-choon Kim, Jeong-pyo Hong, and Suk-ki Kong (2016). A Study on Social Innovation Networks and Platform for Building an Eco-System for Creative Economy. Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning

Tae-kyoon Kim (2016). From International Development to Social Development: A Critical Review on Development Policies and Development Sociology in South Korea. Economy and Society Vol.109

Tae-kyoon Kim (2016). In Search of an Epistemological Transition for Foreign Aid in International Society: Beyond the Dichotomy of National Interests and Humanitarianism. Korean Political Science Review Vol.50, No.1


Hyun-Chin Lim (SNU Professor Emeritus)

Suk-Ki Kong (SNUAC)
Taekyoon Kim (Graduate School of Int’l Studies)
Sunggyu Kim (SNUAC)
Youngchoon Kim (Ulsan Nat’l Institute of Science and Technology)
Myungjoon Park (Korea Labor Institute)
Youngsin Jeong (Jeju Nat’l Univ.)

Research Assistants:
Taeyeon Kim (SNU)
Jiyeon Yu (SNU)