Participation As a Keyword to Development: Learning from Past and Present Korean Practices

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:30
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Yunjeong YANG, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, South Korea
The keyword of the post 2015 global development discourse is sustainability and the issue of governance remains a key means of implementation. This study is a plea for (local people’s) ‘participation’, which cannot be over-emphasised as the very core of the necessary governance for sustainable development. Participation, perceived as having an intrinsic and instrumental value, is now commonly understood as an essential component in any development process and this study argues that it should remain as such, despite its recent criticism and practical challenges.

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.