ISSN : 0023-3900
How can one understand recent welfare reform in Korea? This research claims that Korea’s welfare reform since the late 1990s is not explained as a functional response to growing labor market uncertainty or as a democratic shift to a new welfare state. Alternatively, it discusses the issue in the wider context of labor market reregulation designed to embrace more market forces and safeguard likely reform losers. Focus-ing on regulatory changes in the realm of employment protection and income maintenance, this research presents two crucial findings: (1) Together with its wider range of employment security liberalization, cit-izenship- based income maintenance has constituted the Korean way of labor market reregulation, i.e., “counterbalanced marketization.” (2) This reform path is associated with the peculiar policy-making network structures of Korea, which gives leeway for the government to carry out bold reform projects. Comparisons with the Japanese and Taiwanese cases are offered to highlight the characteristic nature of the Korean welfare/labor market reform. Limitations of Korea’s labor market reform are also discussed.
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