Abstract: How Korea Overcame COVID-19 through Social Welfare: (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

All live presentations are in Eastern time zone.

How Korea Overcame COVID-19 through Social Welfare:

Wednesday, January 20, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Sungha Hwang, Graduate student, Yonsei University, Korea, Republic of (South)
Yelim Lee, Graduate student, Yonsei University, Korea, Republic of (South)
Seung-hun Choi, Graduate student, Yonsei University
In a pandemic situation we often think only the medical profession is uniquely trained and equipped to effectively deal with the situation. However, in the ‘new normal situation’ in Korea, social welfare also played major role in the time of crisis. Therefore, I will examine and compare with Singapore and Japan to discuss how social welfare and its related institutions in Korea played major role and the implication for social integration in other parts of the world.

To do so, literature reviews and use secondary sources to review was used to examine how effective the Korean medical system has been in comparison to the other countries, as well as how the social welfare contributed in stopping the spread of the virus. Additionally, we reviewed the social insurance as well as the social institution in Korea, in order to demonstrate the effects and importance of the integration via social insurance.

Preliminary conclusion from the literature review is that Korea was effectively engage COVID-19 via conventional ways, through medical settings via containment and mass testing, and unconventional ways through social welfare, such as distribution of the masks, survey of the weak and elderly, via social workers, visiting nurses, and uncustomary engagement via neighborhood association. Through various delivery methods social policy was able to deliver quickly and precisely. Additionally, the institutions such as social insurance such as unemployment insurance, and Korean National Health Insurance also played major role even though it had some loopholes. Especially, the KNHI, was able to provide adequate care for all people including the disadvantaged, the people of color, the poor, the elderly, and foreigner workers; and was able to suppress the spread via universal access to healthcare. Furthermore, unemployment insurances, and local government provided benefits and funds to the self-employed and contractors to take the time off from work in order to stop the spread of disease. By able to provide broad population, Korea as a collective was able to protect its citizens and economy and able to integrate all of the society.

The recovery from socio-economic damage of COVID-19, and to normalize the daily life, Korea has utilized the social welfare system. It was able to provide relief funds, using the central government and local government databases, and effectively delivered through the local public and private social welfare infrastructure.

Thus, the implications for U.S. and for Europe settings, from Korea, through pooling the social risk that affects the massive populations, such as infectious disease, the social insurances are the requirement for battling the risks. Additionally, by doing so it integrates the society, which can effectively combat the social risks. Without the social integration via insurances. The limitation of the study is that due the nature of the pandemic there are limitations to the generalization. Therefore, further research of different social welfare system and the public health is needed.