UBI is becoming very popular all around the world. Some countries, even cities, give everyone regular monthly payments, with no specific requirements, through a basic income. In Korea, the province of Gyeonggi-do held a special event to educate people in Korea about the concept of Universal Basic Income. Gyeonggi-do province held its first Korea Basic Income Fair in 2019. The Korea Basic Income Fair was held under the theme of “Humans Humanely, Basic Income”. The fair concluded its 3-day program in late April.

The Korea Basic Income Fair is held both online and offline. The fair’s official website broadcasts the event live. Furthermore, it was broadcast on the provincial government’s YouTube channel. The event was the world’s largest discussion on basic income and local currency and attracted around 600,000 people. The aim of the event was to let people in Korea know about the concept of basic income and show how it could benefit society.

Korea Basic Income Fair

The Korea Basic Income Fair was launched to educate Korea about the concept of Universal Basic Income (UBI). UBI is a regular payment to every citizen to cover their basic human needs such as food, housing, education, etc. The event brought in scholars and experts from around the world to exchange views on basic income. Many explained how UBI will have an important effect on reducing inequalities, improving mental health, and eliminating poverty. In addition, others spoke about how UBI can empower workers with the freedom to exit their jobs to find something more meaningful to them. Therefore this empowerment of workers will push companies in Korea to threaten their workers in a humane manner (better pay/benefits).

Some of the previous scholars included:

  • Annie Miller – Co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network
  • Stephen Nunez – Head of Guaranteed Income Initiative, Jain Family Institute
  • Choi Young-jun – Chair of LAB2050
  • Karen Jones – Former member of the Parliament of South Africa
  • Nam Gi-up – Director of the Institute of Land and Liberty Korea
  • Eduardo Suplicy – Former member of the Federal Senate of Brazil
  • Paul Ross -Founder of the Citizen’s Dividend Organization (CDO) Australia
  • Inoue Tomohiro – Professor of Komazawa University
  • Malcolm Torry – General Manager of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN)
  • Susana Martin Belmonte – Former Chief Economist REC
  • Leander Bindewal – Independent of the network for Monetary Diversity
  • Hermann Aubie – Senior Researcher at the University of Turku

Virtual 3D Exhibition at Korea Basic Income Fair

The Korea Basic Income Fair was presented in the form of a virtual world. The fair’s official website allowed access to a virtual 3D exhibition hall. This was where they staged the “Basic Income and Local Currency Virtual Exhibition Hall”. As well as VR content ranging from academic presentations to animations and videos. In addition, online exhibits were organized into 17 categories. These categories include…

  • The history of the basic income agenda
  • Basic income around the world
  • Disaster-related basic income
  • A basic income idea contest
  • A basic income movie festival
  • And much more.

One of the major topics at the Korea Basic Income Fair revolved around mass unemployment. As well as the impact of automation on the labor market. The 4th Industrial Revolution has brought to the forefront machines and AI which have the potential of taking over jobs done by humans. Therefore, most fast-food restaurants or coffee shops in Korea have automated ordering systems. These systems allow businesses to cut down their number of employees. Therefore one of the main benefits of incorporating a UBI in Korea was the potential of helping with the rise of unemployment in Korea.

UBI Experts at the Korea Basic Income Fair

The Korea Basic Income Fair brings in Korean economists to speak about the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. There has been a massive increase in the number of freelancers and independent contractors in Korea during COVID-19. Therefore it is clear that the future for millennials looks uncertain.

The Korea Basic Income Fair has panel discussions from world experts on UBI and the practical implementations in regard to policy. Many UBI experts stress that UBI is the solution to the failure of conventional social policies. They also explained how UBI will tackle issues regarding inequality, labor market polarization, and the challenges of automation. The Korea Basic Income Fair answered some of the key questions the general public had about UBI. Will it actually work? How will it be paid for? Do the trials done by Gyeonggi-do suggest UBI has lived up to expectations? Would UBI be politically popular in Korea?

The Youth Basic Income Program by Gyeonggi-do

Gyeonggi-do is leading the UBI movement in Korea. They already have in place UBI programs like the Youth Basic Income Program. The program is for Koreans who were born between 1995 and 1996 (24 years old) and have lived in Gyeonggi-do for at least 3 years. They received 250,000 won per quarter (up to 1 million won per year) in their local currency via prepaid cards, which means the money could only be spent within Gyeonggi-do. Local small to mid-sized businesses in the province accepted these prepaid cards for their products and services. It improved the overall sales in Gyeonggi-do. Therefore, it was very much welcomed by local business owners.

Gyeonggi-do province is looking to work with other regions in Korea in the future to study basic income through UBI programs.

The Korea Basic Income Fair informed the public about how UBI is being implemented and embraced around the world. In addition, they also showcased the latest technologies such as self-driving cars and VR/AR experiences. Therefore, this showed just how far technology in Korea has advanced. Moreover, it is clear that automation will be a reality at some point in the future which is why UBI is such a hot topic in Korea.


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