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City Initiatives

Social innovation

Various nations in the EU and North America see social innovation as one of their governments’ important policy issues that will help to resolve complicated social problems.

  • The Young Foundation defines social innovation as the process of designing, exploring, and developing new ideas that meet social objectives and needs.
  • Social innovation resolves social problems in a new and effective way. It is achieved through cooperation between the government, businesses, and civil society.
  • The US Obama government established the Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation in a bid to resolve community social problems in a new and innovative way.

In South Korea there have also been innovative attempts to resolve social problems.

  • Social innovation is the essential method for resolving South Korea’s complicated and challenging social problems.
  • Through the Hope Institute, Mayor Park Won Soon, actively developed and implemented social innovation programs, thereby producing significant outputs.
  • Through the public organization of Seoul Metropolitan Government, Seoul intends to diffuse social innovation in order to turn Seoul into a world-class socially innovative capital.

Korean society, along with Seoul, have just begun to make social innovations. These efforts, which mainly have the aim of resolving social problems, can be seen in society’s civil roles, social enterprises, and community businesses.

Cases of efforts to bring about domestic social innovations

  • Seomisan Village, which formed a village economic ecosystem
  • The Hope Institute’s civil creative programs, which are aimed at turning citizens’ ideas into policies
  • Seoul Metropolitan Government’s consulting center, which has become the incubating center for young people’s businesses and social enterprises
  • The Hope Institute’s happy senior project, which helps professional retirees to find reemployment opportunities at non-profit institutions

Implementation of social innovation project


  • Exploring the social innovation agenda in terms of how closely it is related to the lives of citizens
  • Resolving chronic social problems and new social problems
  • Bolstering partnerships with society and corporations and applying new methods and technologies

Exploring an innovation agenda that enhances societal happiness and social values

① Constructing a system to regularly explore the social innovation agenda

Seoul explores its social innovation agenda by doing the following things: analyzing domestic and overseas cases of social innovation efforts;interviewing experts from various areas; contacting diverse channels such as the relevant departments, bureaus, and divisions; and receiving proposals from citizens.

② Creating jobs for baby boomer retirees, senior citizens, and young people
  • Innovating the distribution systems to address high prices, and to diffuse good-price consumption
  • Innovating life culture and space for citizens to empathize and share with
  • Creating jobs for baby boomer retirees, the elderly, and young people
  • Resolving residential problems and innovating the safety of citizens
  • Encouraging social engagement initiatives in which enterprises, universities, citizens, and religious groups take part in, and innovating public services

Planning the action measures for a highly practical innovation agenda

① Organizing the Social Innovation Officer, Office, Bureau, and Division according to the agenda
  • Agenda that is related to various departments or that is not clearly related to a specific department: Social Innovation Officer
  • Agenda that has been reflected in the business plan or that is directly related to current work: Department, Bureau, and Division
② The Seoul Institute operates a social innovation research group
  • Operates an advisory group that is made up of experts from academia, industries, the press, and NGOs
  • Serves as a think-tank for researching theories and cases and measures the results of Seoul’s pursuits to create new innovations

Practicing and diffusing the innovation agenda systematically

① Holding Seoul innovation workshops
  • Holding quarterly workshops in which public officials, experts, and NGOs participate
  • Exploring new agenda, discussing plans for the innovation agenda, inspecting the progress of such pursuits, and sharing results
② Internal and external diffusion of cases of innovation
  • Pursuing cooperative projects by establishing social innovation networks with domestic and overseas innovation organizations
  • Activating in-house learning meetings, and educating employees in an effort to bolstering innovation capabilities

The social innovation pursuit system

① Exploring innovation agenda
  • Analyzing domestic innovation cases to find out the agenda that is applicable to city administration
② Planning action measures
  • Obtaining advice from working departments and relevant experts to devise practical plans
③ Practicing the innovation agenda
  • Holding Seoul innovation workshops to share innovation efforts and to explore measures that need to be developed
④ Diffusing social innovations
  • Activating meetings for  learning how to bolster innovation capabilities and to diffuse  cases of success throughout society


Reference for social innovation