Will South Korea Be the First Country to Introduce Universal Basic Income?
South Korea could become the first country in the world to implement a nation-wide universal basic income (UBI) program. Lee Jae-myung, the ruling liberal Democratic Party's presidential candidate has pledged to introduce a UBI as well as categorical basic incomes for youth and rural residents. In particular, Lee’s proposal to finance a UBI with taxes on land holdings and carbon emissions has provoked political controversies. This article introduces Lee’s plan for introducing basic income schemes and financing strategies, outlines the political and socioeconomic background and significance of introducing such programs, and discusses the prospects for implementation.
“It is impossible to predict in which country basic income will be introduced first. That country will need to be able to count on an efficient cooperation between thinkers, activists, tinkerers and courageous and intelligent politicians. Will that be Korea?” (Van Parijs and Vanderborght, 2018: 8)