Participatory Budgeting in Korea: Finding Solutions to the Limitations of Representative Democracy

Participatory budgeting is a way for citizens to be involved in policy decision-making and encourage municipalities to consider constituents’ opinions. Since its inception in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 1989, cities around the world have adopted this program. Wasteful budgets and inefficient operations had been attributed to public officials’ monopoly over the allocation of public resources; by decentralizing this power, participatory budgeting allowed a more efficient allocation of the budget, while increasing citizens’ political awareness. This study examines participatory budgeting as a solution to the problems and limitations of representative democracy.

The study first provides a brief overview of two well known international participatory budgeting cases: Porto Alegre, Brazil and Lichtenberg, Germany. Secondly, it provides an overview of the history and current conditions of participatory budgeting in South Korea (hereon referred to as Korea) and explains its legal basis. Next, the report focuses on a successful case of participatory democracy in the district of Yeonsu. Finally, it concludes with accomplishments and challenges of Korea’s participatory budgeting during its 10 years of existence.

Download the International Strategy Center research paper here

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