Dabokdong Project
Busan Metropolitan City

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
During the Korean War, Busan served as a provisional capital of South Korea and provided a shelter for fleeing refugees, which prompted a sharp increase in population and rapid urbanization. After the end of the war, the city played a pivotal role in the rapid reconstruction and development of the South Korean economy, and firmly established itself as the second largest city in the country. However, the economic growth of the city began to slow in the 1970s due the energy crisis. In the aftermath of the economic slowdown, Busan faced various social problems for which the city didn’t sufficiently prepare. For example, Busan began to witness rapid population ageing as young people left the city to find job. Population ageing also brought changes in the traditional family structure, resulting in the increase in the number of one-person households with chronic diseases. In 2015, Busan become an aged society, first among the metropolitan cities in the nation, with 14 percent of its population aged 65 and above. Moreover, the city appears to be on its way to becoming a super-aged society by 2022 when its population aged over 65 is projected to exceed 20 percent. To address these challenges, Busan has been carrying out various welfare policies to reduce the vulnerability of people exposed to social risks and promote sustainable development of the city. However, these welfare policies didn’t bring desired results. Busan had the highest suicide rate in South Korea whose suicide rate was the highest among the OECD countries. In addition, the advent of the new disadvantaged social class, including the unemployed, low-income youth and multicultural families, required the city to create a new paradigm for social welfare services. Previous social welfare services focused on public support for people living in absolute poverty whereas current ones are provided for not only people living below the poverty line but also the disabled, the elderly and one-person households. Now, the city delivers comprehensive care, encompassing support from both the private and public sectors. Concerning the above-mentioned comprehensive care, Busan launched ‘Dabokdong Project’. Da indicates reaching out. Bok represents welfare. And Dong is an administrative unit, lowest in the hierarchy of the local government system. Thus, Dabokdong means community-based care, provided by a Dong office, reaching out to its residents. The goals of Dabokdong Project are: first, to establish each Dong successfully as a fundamental unit of community-based care; second, to provide comprehensive, tailored social welfare services for residents, including people who used to be excluded from the benefits of social welfare; and lastly, to increase residents’ participation in community-based care. These services will be constantly provided until the needs of residents are fully met. To facilitate the efficient delivery of the services, the government set up a cooperation network of service providers, led by Dong offices, replacing an old welfare service system where service providers independently operated. Moreover, the government promotes active participation of residents as an essential ingredient for the successful community-based services to foster a sustainable care system.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
1. A Dong office assembles and runs the Customized Social Services Team, tailored to the needs of residents, consisting of civil servants and experts from the private sector. 2. The Customized Social Services Team reaches out to and supports fully the most vulnerable and poorest, rather than waiting in the office for civilians to come to apply for the services. 3. The Community Council on Social Security at Dong Level, a group to promote cooperation between the private and the public sectors, is established to provide services tailored to the needs of residents in such areas as social welfare, health, employment, education, environment, housing, culture, etc.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
An assessment survey results indicates that the beneficiaries of the Dabokdong Project had greater satisfaction than the recipients of previous social welfare services did. For example, social workers pay a visit to the recipients of the project for a consultation session since the launch of Dabokdong Project. This is a stark contrast to the previous social welfare services programs in which recipients had to go to a Dong office first to apply for such services. Besides, recipients enjoy comprehensive care services, tailored to the needs of each recipient, and actively participate in the project. As a result, bureaucratic inefficiency was greatly reduced. In 2016, the number of visits to the recipients of Dabokdong Project for a consultation session increased fourfold, compared to the previous social welfare services programs. The best practice of comprehensive care services can be found in Mora-dong where the number of people who commit suicide dropped by 85.7 percent. Before, the government or its affiliations used to play a leading role in carrying out social welfare services programs. Now, however, it’s the residents who show their initiative in implementing the project after the residents started to participate in the project through the Community Council on Social Security (CCSS) at Dong Level. Through such bottom-up decision making, each Dong’s residents are able to organize their own CCSS where they pursue welfare programs specifically for their own community. One of the best practices for the resident participation can be found in Deokpo-dong where the Dong office runs the Share Our Refrigerator Program. Vendors and shopkeepers at the nearby Deokpo Market donate agricultural and other natural products to the Deokpo-dong Office where the donated items are put in a particular refrigerator. Using the donated goods, volunteers prepare 50 lunch boxes everyday to be delivered to seniors who are disadvantaged with reduced mobility and live alone in the neighborhood. Nambumin-dong also boasts one of the best practices for the resident participation. The Nambumin-dong Office regularly gathers information about people in the community who are economically or socially marginalized. People in frequent and close contact with the vulnerable are the information sources, including postal carriers, meter readers who check and record gas, electricity and water consumption, and owners of small village shops. With the help of such information sources, the Dong office is able to locate persons excluded from the benefits of social welfare. Another example of the best practice is the School of Hope Mentoring Program run by Mangmi-dong. The Community Council on Social Security of Mangmi-dong created a mentoring program through which the neighborhood youth who are economically distressed can be involved in educational and cultural activities such as field trips to historic sites, book discussion clubs, concerts or recitals.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
The Dabokdong Project has been a huge success and greatly contributed to the increase of social capital in Busan. The success of project is in fact the result of close public-private cooperation. The city government pursued the project with broad participation of local residents and private social welfare services providers. The project was initially designed and developed by the city government. The government then organized a consortium with private social welfare services organizations such as the Busan Community Chest (BCC) and the Busan Association of Social Welfare Center (BASWC). The consortium, in turn, supported CCSS in each Dong. For instance, the city government supports the administrative affairs of CCSS; BCC supports funding to the programs of CCSS; and BASWC trains and advises the CCSS members. With the support and guidance of the consortium, CCSS plays a role of anchor organization in accomplishing the success of the Project. Eventually, some of the existing social services programs came under the umbrella of the Dabokdong Project to produce a synergistic result. For example, an urban renewal program and a public health promotion program were combined with the Dabokdong Project to offer comprehensive care services tailored to the specific needs of residents.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
1. There are six key players who played a role in implementing the Dabokdong Project. a. The city government of Busan The government supervises and coordinates administrative and other general affairs of the project. Following is what the government has done: created the Dabokdong Task Force Headquarters and organized a management committee of the project; issued and distributed practical guidelines for people working for the project; created a website of the project, coordinated research projects related to the project; cooperated with private social welfare services organizations; supported the management of CCSS; and provided training for people working for the project. b. The Gu (municipal district) offices in Busan The Gu offices establish and operate Customized Social Services Team in their respective districts. They also support CCSS in their respective districts and establish a Gu-level plan for the project. The CCSS at Gu level coordinates and adjusts budget imbalance among Dongs. c. The Dong offices in 16 Gu/districts of Busan The Dong offices perform front-line tasks of the project. They send social workers to visit residents for a consultation session, locate and support people excluded from the benefits of social welfare, and organize and run CCSS at Dong level. d. Private social welfare services organizations The operation manager of a CCSS in each Dong brings together private social welfare services organizations in the respective neighborhood. Cooperative organizations pool and share material and human resources, optimizing the use of resources. e. Support Team for Community Council on Social Security The team is composed of following members from the private and public sectors: four university professors of social work studies; five management personnel of private social services organizations; and eleven civil servants. It provides training and consulting for CCSS. f. Local residents Residents participate in CCSS as a council member, helping private social welfare services organizations and Dong offices locate a previously neglected underprivileged person. They also participate in a neighborhood-specific project to tackle local welfare issues. 2. On the other hand, there are three major beneficiaries affected by the project. a. Local residents Local residents are direct beneficiaries of the project by receiving administrative and financial support. At the same time, they gain considerable confidence in themselves and develop strong ties to their community by participating in the process to deal with local welfare issues. Residents learn by active trial-and-error, which helps them build the capacity of the community. b. Private social welfare services organizations Once private social welfare services organizations participated in the project, they enjoyed enhanced communication with the public, mobilized material and human resources in a more efficient way, and shared latest information among themselves and with the government. c. Civil servants in charge of social welfare services As civil servants in charge of social welfare services visited residents participating in the project for a consultation session, they realized that it was very important to understand correctly the needs of the participating residents and take a proactive approach in dealing with them. As a result, the civil servants felt a strong sense of responsibility towards the resident participants and truly appreciated the work they carried out.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Phase 1 – trial period (July 2014 – December 2015) During the trial period, Busan carried out the Dabokdong Project in four of the most underprivileged Dongs in Busan. In August 2015, an evaluation conducted by the Busan Social Welfare Development Institute (BSWDI) showed that the number of instances of locating a previously neglected underprivileged person was reported 17 times more than before. The evaluation report also found the number of social welfare cases increased tenfold and the number of a visiting consultation session nine times. Naturally, the satisfaction of local residents increased greatly as well. In September 2015, the government established the Master Plan for the Dabokdong Project based on the BSWDI evaluation report and secured the municipal budget of USD 1.14 million. Phase 2 – implementation period (January 2016 – December 2016) From February to March 2016, the government accepted an application from Gu (municipal districts) to implement the project in a Dong in the respective Gu. Each of the 52 selected Dongs received funds of USD 26,200 and support personnel. From March to July 2016, three supportive bodies for the project were established. In March 2016, the government established the Dabokdong Task Force Headquarters led by Vice Mayor. The headquarters took overall responsibility for the project. In May, the Support Team for CCSS was set up to offer monitoring and consultation to CCSS. Two months later, the Management Committee of Dabokdong Project was launched, consisting of ten civilian experts in the fields of public health, welfare and administration. In April 2016, 207 staff members, the entire personnel of the project, received an in-depth training course provided by the city government. And a month later, the government, in cooperation with the Ministry of Employment and Labor, chose 52 senior citizens with professional licenses or certificates to be dispatched to the 52 Dongs. From May to July 2016, civil servants from the city government and Gu offices in cooperation with civilian experts of BSWDI conducted monitoring and evaluation of the 52 Dongs which had launched the project to identify and suggest solutions to the problems that the 52 Dongs encountered. In September 2016, the Action Plan for the Promotion of CCSS was announced. According to the action plan, in November 2016, USD 275,000 was funded through the Busan Community Chest to assist the Support Team for CCSS. On October 17, 2016, the city government invited five social welfare experts from the Nihon Fukushi University in Japan to the Korea-Japan Policy Conference on Social Welfare to review and assess the outcomes of the project. During the second half of 2016, the government commissioned the Korea Society of Social Welfare and Administration to conduct research on the efficiency of the project. Upon the performance evaluation, the government adopted necessary measures to improve the project. In addition, from May 2016 to April 2017, BSWDI has conducted and will be conducting preliminary, mid-term and post-project surveys and assessments. These surveys and assessments were and will be carried out in both the 52 Dongs and other Dongs in Busan which did not undertake the project in order to draw a comparison. Phase 3 – expansion period (January 2017 – December 2017) By applying information technologies to the project, Busan launched an information sharing system (ISS) that allowed the government to share its data on social welfare with private social services organizations. ISS reduced the number of people who were omitted from social welfare services and prevented the recipients from abusing the social welfare system by benefiting double from the system. Phase 4 – stabilization period (January 2018 – onwards) All the 205 Dongs in Busan will participate in the project.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
There are 12 key stakeholders who played a role in designing and implementing the project. 1. 16 Gus (municipal districts) They are responsible for implementing and coordinating the project activities in the respective Gu. 2. 205 Dongs Each Dong office has a Customized Social Services Team, consisting of civil servants and civilian experts. 3. Local residents and Community Council on Social Security Local residents and CCSS consisting of about 40 members participate in following activities: locating a previously neglected underprivileged person; visiting the vulnerable for a consultation session; and supporting a neighborhood-specific project to tackle local welfare issues. 4. Dabokdong Task Force Headquarters The headquarters comprises 11 civil servants and takes full responsibility for the implementation and coordination of the project. Vice Mayor, who leads the headquarters, is assisted by Director-General of Social Welfare Bureau and nine Directors from pertinent Divisions. 5. Management Committee of Dabokdong Project It consists of 10 civilian experts from various fields, including the academia and social services organizations. 6. Support Team for Community Council on Social Security at Dong Level The team comprises scholars, civilian experts and civil servants, and provides training and consulting for CCSS. 7. Busan Association of Social Welfare Center The head of Social Welfare Center in a Dong takes a role of operation manager in CCSS in the respective Dong. 8. Rehabilitation Center of Busan Metropolitan City The center trains 207 persons working for the project. 9. Busan Community Chest It cooperates in securing funds for CCSS. 10. Busan Social Welfare Development Institute The institute cooperates in publishing practical guidelines and conducts performance evaluation. 11. Busan Community Relations Center The center manages senior citizens working for the project in cooperation with the Ministry of Employment and Labor 12. Food Bank of Busan It conducts Share Our Refrigerator Program in each Dong.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
One of the most successful outputs is that community-based welfare pluralism was achieved upon the implementation of the Dabokdong Project. It was grassroots organizations whose concerted efforts made this accomplishment possible. Grassroots organizations tried hard to involve local residents in the project implementation process. It was no longer a top-down decision making process. Local residents were encouraged to contribute by taking responsibility and action for their own neighborhoods. As a result, residents’ pride in their neighborhoods was restored and their self-confidence was enhanced considerably. A good example can be found in the cases of Suyoung-dong and Dadae-dong where recipients of National Basic Livelihood Security Benefit contributed to a neighborhood support program by means of talent donation. In addition, the project successfully provided a strengthened social safety net for the vulnerable and poor. Social workers visited a poor neighborhood to gather information about the disadvantaged people who had not yet benefited from the social welfare services. They also gathered such information by keeping in touch with people, who were in frequent contact with the vulnerable, i.e. postal carriers, meter readers, landlords, real estate agents and owners of small village shops. Consequently, previously neglected disadvantaged persons were located and placed in appropriate care so no one would be excluded from the benefits of social welfare system.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
The city government encountered an obstacle at the outset of the implementation of the Dabokdong project. The first serious obstacle arose in the public sector. It was the municipal districts’ negative attitude towards the project. By the end of 2015, the government wanted to implement the project throughout the city. However, the government’s wish was met with resistance from Gu (municipal district) offices. Even though Gu offices recognized the necessity for and potential of the project, they hesitated to bear expenses of human resources regarding civil servants responsible for social welfare services. To ease Gu offices’ concern, the government decided to provide funds to cover operational expenses for any Gu office that were capable of implementing such project and demonstrated commitment to complete the task. The government fully supported four Dongs from four different Gu once they were selected to conduct a test run. The trial period proved successful and many Gu and Dong offices were eager to apply for the project from then on. Another major obstacle the government encountered came from the private sector –private social welfare services organizations. It was essential for a Gu or a Dong office to establish cooperative relationships with the private sector to streamline the implementation process. However, private social welfare services organizations were skeptical of the project’s effectiveness, and considered social welfare services as their own area of expertise. Therefore, the organizations regarded the project as unwelcome governmental intervention. In this regard, the government began a vigorous campaign to change the organizations’ negative attitude towards the project. Civil servants of the city government regularly participated in the meetings, conferences and seminars organized by the Korea Association of Social Welfare Centers. The government also hosted various meetings to give an informative presentation on the project and eventually persuaded them into cooperating with the implementation.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
One of the key benefits resulting from the Dabokdong Project is the enhanced satisfaction of residents. Upon the implementation of the project, the city government provided the vulnerable with comprehensive, customized care services tailored to particular needs and appropriate for individual situations. Consequently, satisfaction of the social welfare services recipients increased considerably. 2016 Evaluation Report of Dabokdong Project presented a case of a fisherman called Mr. Lim, resident of Milak-dong. He had a monthly income of USD 850, and took care of an older brother seriously injured in a car accident with no income. However, he lost his monthly income after undergoing an emergency gastrectomy due to an acute gastric ulcer. With no income of his own and a disabled brother to take care of, he couldn’t afford monthly rent payment and his livelihood was in jeopardy. The dong office, informed by one of his neighbors, designated him as an emergency aid recipient and provided him with emergency funds to pay the rent in cooperation with the Busan Community Chest. The dong office also introduced him to a regional career guidance program, helping him quickly return to his work after he fully recovered. Another key benefits resulting from the project is a strong sense of community residents developed in the course of the project implementation. Local residents’ active participation in the project led to an increasing awareness of the community and the surroundings. They also recognized their own capacity for making positive changes and lasting impacts on their lives and the community. 2016 Evaluation Report of Dabokdong Project demonstrated a case in Hakjang-dong. An in-depth survey of the vulnerable and poor, conducted by the Community Council on Social Security at Hakjang-dong, highlighted the unique needs of the local residents. Catering to these needs, the dong office pursued a neighborhood-specific plan to inspect and repair dilapidated houses with special funds. The dong office found corporate sponsors and accepted voluntary talent donation from the local residents to check and repair the electric wiring systems, window screens, water supply systems, plumbing systems and gas pipelines in 211 households.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
The Dabokdong Project helped improve the integrity in public service through the close cooperation between the private and public sectors. Previously, social welfare services had been offered by governments in accordance to the top-down decision making process. Social welfare services organizations in the private sectors did not have an effective network to share their experiences and expertise. However, the implementation of the Dabokdong Project enabled the private organizations to streamline a cooperation process among them. Moreover, operating budgets is now executed in a more transparent way than before since many civilians participate in and monitor the implementation of the project, including private social welfare services providers, local residents and the academia. As a result, the project contributed to the diminished corruption in the public service.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
CCSS provides emergency aid and support for women and children to improve the situation of the most vulnerable. In the existing social welfare services system, women and children were often neglected and excluded from social welfare benefits because they were often subjected to social stigma and afraid of reporting their cases to the authority. To better assist women and children, the government located them in cooperation with their neighbors, paid a visit for consulting, and conducted surveys of their specific needs. The government and the relevant organizations held a joint meeting and customized social welfare services to meet individual needs, providing health care and job information. The 2016 monitoring survey revealed one of the most serious cases of disadvantaged women and children. A woman asked help at a Dong office. Her husband, the main source of income, had gone missing and left her in debt with two children in high school. She couldn’t work due to leg fracture and without any family member providing financial support. The Dong office and the Korea Legal Aid Corporation provided legal guidance to file child support against the husband, found proper housing, and helped the children secure part-time jobs and college tuition.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Busan Metropolitan City
Institution Type:   Local Government  
Contact Person:   Wonjya YUN
Title:   Head Manager  
Telephone/ Fax:   +82 51 888 5101/5089
Institution's / Project's Website:  
E-mail:   yunwonjya@gmail.com  
Address:   1000 Yeonsan 5-dong, Yeonje-gu
Postal Code:   47545
City:   Busan

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