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Rising Debate of Basic Income in Gyeonggi-do, Korea(Reaction to COVID-19)

Did you know that South Korea has been implementing basic income policy? The outbreak has aroused the need of basic income worldwide and we suggest.

Following the worldwide outbreak of COVID-19, various issues are emerging with governments and related national organizations deliberating and implementing plans to overcome the situation. Among these initiatives, one of the main discussions is the concept of 'basic income for disaster', and the movement for the introduction of basic income are not only taking place in the US and Japan, but also in Korea. With a staggering number of infection cases in the country, almost every part of Korean society has been deeply impacted by COVID-19. In this regard, Mayor Park Won-soon of Seoul, the capital city of South Korea and Governor of Gyeonggi Province, the metropolitan area surrounding Seoul are among the voices calling for universal basic income in case of disaster.

Worldwide outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19) brought the need for Basic Disaster Income

Rise of 'Disaster-related Basic Income' theory

Last month, the CEO of a Korean unicorn company 'SoCar' launched a petition for the provision of basic income for disaster to every Korean. The petition focused on providing self-employed workers who are exposed to economic risks during the COVID-19 crisis, such as freelancers and taxi drivers, with a monthly basic income of 500,000 KRW (390 USD). South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyung-soo also asserted the need to provide 1 million KRW (780 USD) to every citizen of Korea. With these petitions, the concept of basic income gained broad public awareness and soon became controversial.

Supporters of basic income used the agenda of basic income in case of disaster (the COVID-19) situation to publicize the main concept of basic income policy. Related policies had previously been introduced in Korea, especially in Gyeonggi Province, before the crisis. However, the spread of COVID-19 around the world made such policies even more pertinent. The disease affected the jobs and incomes of many people, so the necessity for basic income started to become apparent. As the domestic economy falters, the Korean government is giving basic income policy greater and greater weight. 
Money is important for everyone although Basic Income is not the answer

Why now? Why basic income?

The idea of basic income being utilized during a disaster is derived from the concept of ‘Universal Basic Income’ (UBI). As the COVID-19 situation worsens, several countries around the world are now considering the introduction of basic income. Hong Kong has already introduced payments of 10,000 HKD (1,287 USD) for every citizen over 18 years of age, or about 7 million people, so as to encourage domestic consumption and support people’s daily lives. Macau also plans to provide its citizens with comparable support.

In fact, Korea has already been implementing basic income. Gyeonggi-do, for example, has been pursuing its ‘Youth Basic Income’ policy since 2016. With a budget of 175.3 billion KRW (136.6 million USD), the provincial government provides 250,000 KRW (195 USD) to every qualifying 24-year-old resident on a quarterly basis. Though the beneficiaries of the policy are limited in number, the satisfaction levels are very high with more and more people applying for Youth Basic Income every year. According to a provincial survey of 3,500 people among the 124,335 beneficiaries, the policy received an average of 77.10 points out of 100 (satisfied 80.6%, general 14.5%, unsatisfied 4.9%). The major reason cited for satisfaction with the policy was that ‘every 24-year-old youth could benefit’. 

Supporters of ‘Basic Income’

Andrew Yang insists the need of Universal Basic Income(ⓒwikipedia)
Interest in UBI continues to grow daily with corresponding growth in the number of related supporters. Andrew Yang can be mentioned as who has most strongly insisted basic income policy at his campaign. The idea of UBI has been widely endorsed by various pundits since it first emerged. Martin Luther King Jr. was among those who argued its necessity. More recently, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Elon Musk of Space X have also voiced their support for such policies. The governments and peoples of each country are now increasingly considering the value of UBI under disaster circumstances.

Movements for the realization of UBI are appearing around the world. The Swiss government had planned to introduce a policy that would provide 2,500 CHF (2,577 USD) to adults and 650 CHF (670 USD) to youths under 18 years of age, but this initiative was rejected in a referendum. The necessity for UBI tends to be discussed more actively in lesser developed regions. Areas such as Madhya Pradesh of India or countries such as Namibia have already demonstrated the viability of UBI, and the Brazilian government introduced the ‘Bolsa Familia’ policy for people in low-income brackets in the previous decade. The US state of Alaska is also proceeding with a policy that is similar to UBI. Since 1982, the Alaskan state government has provided residents with basic income derived from the sale of Alaskan crude oil and other natural resources. If someone resides in Alaska for at least one year prior to application, that person is eligible for payments. Alaska’s low poverty rate and income inequality, among the lowest of all US states, seem closely related to this policy.

UBI: Is it a solution? Or a new problem?

With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, the growing number of the jobs being lost to automation is no longer surprising. The replacement of human labor is increasing, expanding beyond industries associated with physical labor such as construction or logistics. Professions in fields such as architecture or medical services also face a replacement crisis. With this change, even staunch capitalists are bringing up the stabilization value of UBI. The Gyeonggi Provincial Government has also recognized the value of UBI, and is continuously analyzing the effectiveness of related policies as foundations for the future.

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Gyeonggido-Korea (경기도): Rising Debate of Basic Income in Gyeonggi-do, Korea(Reaction to COVID-19)
Rising Debate of Basic Income in Gyeonggi-do, Korea(Reaction to COVID-19)
Did you know that South Korea has been implementing basic income policy? The outbreak has aroused the need of basic income worldwide and we suggest.
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