Cooperative legislation in South Korea requires reform

South Korea has a specific cooperative legislation system in which each cooperative sector is regulated by its own legislation which depends on different ministries. As a direct consequence, although there are strong cooperative sectors such as agriculture, the interests of the cooperative movement as a whole cannot be protected by legislation, but only by its sectoral interests. This is the case for consumer cooperatives in particular, for which it is always very difficult to get a legal status as a cooperative.

31 May 2011

by HyungSik Eum, KASEE

To solve this problem, several organisations in the newly emerging cooperative movement, including KASEE, the Korean CICOPA member, launched a project for enacting a legislation which could cover various types of cooperatives, which were lacking a proper legal status. The main target of this legislation is worker cooperatives, which KASEE represents. However, there are also differing needs. For instance, medical users’ cooperatives, are actually considered as partly consumer cooperatives, and would need to acquire a new legal status enabling them to open more to non-members by enforcing non-surplus distribution constraints.

There are also several care workers’ associations, which call for legal recognition to give their workers a status, which is neither ’employed’ nor unemployed. To cover those different needs, these organisations reached an agreement on a draft legislation to cover various types of cooperatives which are not covered by the existing sectoral cooperative legislation.

This new legislation would have a similar form to general laws on cooperatives but it would also mention specific types of cooperatives. KASEE, Solidarity of Medical Consumer Cooperatives, the Korean Association of Local Centres for the inclusion through the Economic Activity, the Institute for Cooperative Research, the Social Investment Foundation and several care workers’ associations are taking part in this project. They expect to design a new legislation within the next year.

International Organisation of Industrial, Artisanal and
Service Producers' Cooperatives

Secretariat: C/O European Cooperative House - avenue Milcamps 105
1030 Brussels, Belgium
Tel: +32 2 543 1033, fax: +32 2 543 1037
E-mail: cicopa[at]

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