Disability and employment in South Korea
This thesis analyses the development of social policy in south Korea since the 1960s focusing on the employment policy for disabled people. A brief historical survey of Korean social policy will be included in exploring the background and enacting process of The Law for Employment Promotion of the Disabled 1990'. This thesis presents an overview from a number of perspectives on social policy and addresses the relationship between them and the Korean situation. Democratic Socialism is employed as an appropriate framework within which to analyse the Korean system. The applicability of Democratic Socialism to the Korean situation is assessed theoretically and practically in terms of five criteria, namely, economic growth, state intervention, the role of the middle class, the increase in welfare expenditure and public participation, which are regarded as key elements of Democratic Socialism. To grasp the reality and the problems of the current Korean system, this thesis adopts a qualitative methodology of in-depth interviewing, in which 100 people including 60 disabled people, some members of parliament and officials concerned with policy-making and employers were interviewed. Through interviews, the attitude of disabled people towards the current system and their real needs for change were identified. In this process, the Korean way of understanding concepts, such as, institutionalism, anti-institutionalism, integration, segregation and normalisation will become clear. Problems of the current system and the basic needs of disabled people which emerged during the interviews are considered and addressed in terms of the principles of Democratic Socialism and it is argued that the consequent policy implications involve major government intervention and the development of a comprehensive policy for disability. The major experiences of policy in the disability terrain in European countries such as Britain, Sweden, Denmark, France and Germany which have retained the traces of Democratic Socialism or corporatism are referred to and discussed in the Korean context. This thesis tentatively suggests that Democratic Socialism would provide an appropriate framework within which a rapid development in welfare policy could be achieved to match south Korea's amazing economic growth because the implication of a strongly interventionist government is a part of the cultural tradition. Furthermore, social democracy should provide a useful bridge between the different political systems of the North and South in the event of future unification offering a middle way between their social policy traditions.