JICA Research Institute

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No.93 Human Security in Practice: The Case of South Korea

South Korea is one of the newest members to join the OECD's Development Assistance Committee, and its ascendance was touted as an exemplary case of a recipient-turned-donor, which is a rarity in world history. In particular, South Korea's rise to an advanced industrialized nation came in the aftermath of the Korean War, and thus, there was interest in whether South Korea would embrace the notion of "human security" in its development cooperation through its official development assistance (ODA). This paper identified key stakeholders in the ODA community of South Korea including various government ministries, aid implementing agencies, civil society organizations, international organizations, and academia. Official documents of the government and research publications of academic representatives were examined to see whether the term "human security" was explicitly used, and if not, whether the term was implicitly used. The review of documents was supplemented with a small number of interviews. The results of the study showed that while the South Korean government does not explicitly use the term "human security," it has embraced the 3 components of human security -namely, freedom from fear, freedom from want, and freedom to live in dignity - as well as 2 approaches to human security - protection and empowerment- in its ODA policies. On the other hand, while South Korea has fully embraced the concept of human security in its ODA policies, it is not clear whether it has been fully implemented in ODA activities. We believe that further research is needed in the ODA implementation sites to examine whether human security is implemented, going beyond reference in the official documents in South Korea. One final observation is that the term "human security" has been explicitly used by President Geun-hye Park and Minister Yoon of the MOFA in their speeches. It would be interesting to follow up to see whether the use of the term by these two key figures would lead to the explicit use of the term "human security" in official documents, and as a key strategy of South Korea's ODA in the near future.

Keywords: Republic of Korea (South Korea), human security, development cooperation, official development assistance, freedom from fear, freedom from want, freedom to live in dignity, protection, empowerment

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