This briefing comes from Korea View, a weekly newsletter published by the Korea Economic Institute. Korea View aims to cover developments that reveal trends on the Korean Peninsula but receive little attention in the United States. If you would like to sign up, please find the online form here.
Implications: The government’s belief that high-income earners would return their share of the emergency relief fund reveals policymakers’ trust in the Korean public’s sense of civic duty. Critics have pointed out that relying on volunteerism is not sound policy-making. However, DP lawmakers are confident that people will contribute their share if civic leaders and influencers set an example. In addition, there are tax incentives for those who take this action. DP lawmakers also point to ongoing public campaigns to raise money for the emergency relief fund as evidence of the people’s volunteerism.
Context: South Korea’s past experiences validate the government’s belief that people would make significant sacrifices. When the country’s economy ran out of foreign reserve currency during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, South Koreans launched a national gold-collecting campaign. In the first quarter of 1998, 2.43 million people participated in this campaign and collected 1.65 tons of gold which resulted in earning USD 2.2 billion worth of foreign currency to pay back the International Monetary Fund.
Korea View was edited by Yong Kwon with the help of Gordon Henning, Soojin Hwang, Hyungim Jang, and Ingyeong Park.
Picture depicting the 1998 gold collection movement from user ClubCapetown on flickr