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Issues and future directions for Korean childcare policy

Yoon Hyung Lee (Seoul National University of Education, Seoul, Republic of Korea)
Joo-Yeon Lee (Chonnam National University, Gwangju, Republic of Korea)

Asian Education and Development Studies

ISSN: 2046-3162

Article publication date: 10 June 2020

Issue publication date: 18 June 2021




The paper attempts to closely look into childcare regime in South Korea as well as Korean parents' childcare preference and usage across their young's early years. Through ascertaining Korean family needs in childcare while considering their cultural and social context, directions for future childcare policy development are offered. In so doing, it is hoped to inform Korea and other Asian countries going through similar social and economic changes of ways to build upon childcare policy while taking into account their individual context.


A literature review took place using theoretical frameworks of poststructuralism and institutionalized individualization. First, further attention to “problems” on Korean childcare policy is paid while considering the nation's situated cultural and social context. Also, individual families are viewed with autonomy and responsibility in undertaking childcare duties; thus, further individualized childcare service is proposed for the integration of the nation throughout the paper.


It was found there has been a mismatch between the nation's childcare policy regime and culture. The state exclusively provides defamilialistic childcare service provision, while many Korean families uphold familialism in meeting their childcare demands. In order to meet the sociocultural needs of Korean families, therefore, the enactment of complementary childcare service provision and the establishment of generous parental leave policies were proposed.


Many Asian countries work toward resembling egalitarian societies implementing Western policies and values. However, in reality, little change has shown especially in the paradigm of family, family values and family responsibilities in Korea. Therefore, this paper suggests that policymakers should take a careful evaluation of current childcare provisions and strive for gradual improvement rather than radical changes in childcare policy regime.



Lee, Y.H. and Lee, J.-Y. (2021), "Issues and future directions for Korean childcare policy", Asian Education and Development Studies, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 469-480.



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