Participation As a Keyword to Development: Learning from Past and Present Korean Practices
The current study draws on my two previous researches, both based on a triangular methodology involving document and archive (for Case Study I) analysis and the author’s field visits to conduct interviews with key persons concerned during 2014–2015. The first study (Case Study I) regards South Korea’s earlier rural modernisation experiences during the 1970s. By contrasting two villages’ within-village governance styles, I stress the importance of a community-driven development approach in making the village transformation from an underdeveloped to a modern village successful in a sustainable manner. The second study (Case Study II) draws on current Korean development cooperation practices, with an example of a Korean CSO working with a Cambodian village, and demonstrates the challenges experienced in obtaining the villagers’ participation.
The current study, being a synthesis of the two case studies, by learning from both past and the present, serves to re-highlight the value of and need for a participatory approach for sustainability, and concludes that, despite practical challenges, such an approach should serve as a core mode of development cooperation practices. Only when people participate voluntarily and willingly, power relations can become more equitable, allowing participatory development to result in sustainable results.