South Korea: Suwon province holds a fair focused on basic income

South Korea: Suwon province holds a fair focused on basic income

Last Monday, on the 29th of April, a special event was held in Suwon, a city in the province of Gyeonggi-do, just south of Seoul, South Korea. This event was conceived as a fair, the first of its kind, and was focused on basic income, having attracted more than 18 thousand people.

Announced in a previous report, the two-day event was featured by numerous experts on basic income and related policies. It was propelled by the recent adoption, in the cited province, of a local currency unconditional cash transfer to young people (born in 1995), dubbed “Youth Dividend”. This local currency is issued by the city, and so can only be spent in small or mid-size local businesses (which can help boost the local economy).

Moreover, according to Gyeonggi-do spokesperson, Kim Yong, the province regional government will work with other regions of South Korea in order to study basic income implementation “in more depth”. Kim Yong also guarantees there are other basic income-type policies being studied in the province, while the “Youth Dividend” scheme is presented in other 60 regions within South Korea. During the fair, the formation of a “Basic Income Council” was alluded to by local authorities, grouping 34 local autonomies, most within Gyeonggi-do.

The basic income fair was also a way to inform the general public about basic income as a policy itself, and how it is being pursued in the world. A short video report can be watched here (News Center):

More information at:

Hyosang Ahn, “Korea to launch provincial ‘Youth Basic Income’ program”, Basic Income News, April 16th 2019

Korea to launch provincial ‘Youth Basic Income’ program

Korea to launch provincial ‘Youth Basic Income’ program

Basic Income Exhibition and Youth Basic Income to be launched

Gyeonggi province, the most populous region in South Korea, will be hosting an exhibition on basic income on April 29th and 30th to coincide with the launching of its Youth Basic Income program. The program will unconditionally give one million Korean Won ($US900) in local currency per year to 24-year-old residents of Gyeonggi province.

The program was first piloted when the now provincial governor of Gyeonggi, Lee Jaemyung, was the mayor of Seongnam City. Lee Jaemyung made the expansion of his Youth Dividend program part of his winning electoral manifesto in last year’s local election, and the program will be expanded to the whole of Gyeonggi province starting this April.

The Basic Income Exhibition will largely be composed of three parts. First, a provincial fair will be held with 31 cities and counties participating where local specialties could be purchased with the local currency. Second, a promotional platform for basic income will be created, introducing its history, meaning, and experiments that have helped make it a reality. Third, a conference will be held under the subject of ‘Basic Income: A New Paradigm in the Age of Cooperation’. The conference will discuss basic income experiments and policies that are proceeding around the world, and go on to consider how basic income relates to the commonwealth, technological changes, the status of women, democracy, and the very definition of social value.

The keynote speakers of the conference are Annie Miller, co-founder of BIEN and the chair of UK Citizens’ Basic Income Trust, and Kang Namhoon, the chair of Basic Income Korea Network (BIKN), and they will give keynote addresses, respectively titled ‘From Vision to Reality: A New Age of Justice, Peace and Welfare’, and ‘Life in the Future driven by Technology Innovation and Basic Income’.

In addition, Governor Lee Jaemyung will present the outlines of Gyeonggi Province’s Youth Dividend program in a session on discussing the various basic income experiments and pilot programs around the world.

Other guest speakers of the conference include Almaz Zelleke (NYU Shanghai), Tomohiro Inoue (Komazawa University, Japan), Sarath Davala (Vice-chair of BIEN, India), Sam Manning (Y Combinator, USA). Leading members of BIKN, such as Min Geum, Nowan Kwack, Junghee Seo, Seungho Baek, Kyoseong Kim, Sophia Seungyoon Lee, Hyosang Ahn, will also attend as speakers at the conference.

The Youth Basic Income program that became the catalyst for the upcoming exhibition/conference is far from ideal, limited as it is in both the age group and amount involved. But it will be one of the biggest pilot programs of basic income so far in the world, involving some 170,000 people, and an excellent opportunity to observe the community effect of a basic income, with the results being analyzed by the Gyeonggi Research Institute.

One of the controversies surrounding Gyeonggi Province’s Youth Basic Income is that it will be given in local currency, which is only usable within the province rather than in cash, quite far from being an ideal basic income.

Despite its limitations, there are some hopes for the program. Given that the local currency can be only be used in small businesses of the province, it could stimulate the local economy and provide the base for a broader coalition in support of the basic income program, and basic income in general. Moreover, basic income can be regarded as part of a broader reimagining of society, and local currencies are a way to reconstruct social economies and could be part of that reimagining. As Thomas Paine once said, time makes more converts than reason, and while the youth basic income is limited, it can certainly be a step forward for basic income into political reality.


Hyosang Ahn (Executive Director of BIKN)

Seoul, Korea: Conference “Innovation, social investment and basic income”

Seoul, Korea: Conference “Innovation, social investment and basic income”

On the 8th and 9th of November 2018, a Conference intitled “Innovation, social investment and basic income” will be hosted in the Institute for Welfare State Research, located in Seoul, South Korea. This two-day Conference will focus on welfare strategies, social investment politics and policies, as well as basic income. The Conference is International and will feature speakers such as Nick Pearce (IPR, University of Bath), Reijo Miettinen (University of Helsinki), Jurgen De Wispelaere (IPR, University of Bath) and Hansoo Choi (Korea Institute of Public Finance), among others.


Political economy and the role of basic income in the welfare state at the age of automation will be at the center of the discussion on the second day, with speakers like Young Jun Choi (Yonsei University) and Julian Garritzmann (University of Zurich). The (Korean) Institute of Governmental Studies (Korea University) will host a farewell lunch after the morning sessions.


The Conference program can be accessed here.


Basic Income Korea Network holds sixth General Assembly

Basic Income Korea Network holds sixth General Assembly

Looking back to the past, looking forward to the way ahead

The 6th General Assembly (GA) of Basic Income Korea Network (BIKN) was held in Seoul last Saturday. The GA, the highest decision-making body, is held every January, in which we examine the activities of last year and decide what activities we should carry out in the following year.

2017 was a watershed year for BIKN as well as for the politics in Korea. Popular resistance to the abuse of power and corruption of the former president and her coterie led to a snap presidential election in which Mr. Moon from the Democratic Party won. We have the most democratic government in a decade.

Grievances about social and economic inequality and insecurity have flowed under the popular resistance, although it was certainly an expression of the aspiration for democracy. Under these circumstances, interest and support for the basic income idea could be strengthened and become more prolific prolific. One of the more influential candidates presented basic income policy as an electoral promise.

BIKN had two main achievements in the turbulent year of 2017. Above all, the basic income agenda entered into the center of the public sphere. During this period, BIKN has been recognized as a prestigious institution around the discussion of BI. Secondly, we saw the quantitative growth of our organization, including an increase in individual and group membership, as well as the growth of local networks (chapter of BIKN). Now we have around 500 individual members, seven group members and six local networks.

Upon the those self-assessments, BIKN decided the following activities for the next year: we will spread understanding of the basic income concept through online basic income courses; we will make efforts to form basic income coalitions during the local elections this June in order to implement basic income policy; we will participate in the project to design experimental models for basic income which the government will commission this year (see another article); we will change BIKN into a corporation in order to secure institutional status.

We expect this year will be another watershed to realize the basic income idea.

Hyosang Ahn Executive Director of BIKN

South Korea: Lottery for “Another Life” – Tio Su-ki Basic Income Pilot for and by young people

South Korea: Lottery for “Another Life” – Tio Su-ki Basic Income Pilot for and by young people


Daejeon, South Korea. Started in October 2016 a group of young people from Daejeon in South Korea initiated the ‘Tio Su-Ki project’, which was presented by the Basic Income Korea Network (BIKN) at this year’s Universal Basic Income (UBI) summit in Lisbon. The pilot was realized through donations by over 200 participants, out of which 3 winners were selected in a lottery-style competition. The winners received 500,000 won (around 370 €) per month for six months – and all three reported better quality of life and stronger focus on their life goals and interests. One of the winners explained the experience: ‘People who eat bananas think differently from those who never do and know more than those without experiencing bananas. I think that the basic income experiment gave me a lot of money, so I can imagine another life.’

Inspired by the presentation of “My Basic Income” at Seoul’s 2016 UBI summit, Tio Su-Ki aimed at raising awareness for the societal impacts of UBI in a country, which still has the second longest average working hours in the OECD. It responded specifically to a situation that sees many young South Koreans with huge student loans, precarious part-time jobs and a general climate of weak labor unions and a tumultuous political situation. As the organizers of the pilot observed, many South Koreans still perceive the idea of UBI to be a direct contradiction with national labor ethics and perceptions, which are focused around ‘honest work’ as the legitimacy for wages. The project is part of a wider movement in South Korea, which is gathering support for multiple pilot studies with varying designs in other cities including Seoul, Seongnam and the Hankyoreh 21 project.

The project title encapsulates the ambition to give spare time to fast-paced, city lives. Participants were asked to fill in a questionnaire on Kakaotalk, a Korean social network, after which three winners were selected randomly, all of them in their twenties and early thirties. Promotion for the project included a Basic Income monopoly game and events.The gamified design of the pilot was a major contributing factor for building curiosity and interest in the project.

More information at:

Scott Douglas Jacobsen, “Seoul National University Economy professor Lee Keun says South Korea needs BI”, Basic Income News, January 21st, 2017

Karl Widerquist, “SOUTH KOREA: Basic Income Coalition created with aim to support candidates in elections”, Basic Income News, May 27th, 2010