Interview with the Basic Income Party

Recently, the Young Greens sat down with the Basic Income Party of South Korea and their leader, Shin Jihye. Here is an English translation of their conversation.

0) Introduce yourself.

Hello, I’m Shin Ji-hye, the representative of Basic Income Party. The Basic Income Party was founded in 2020 to realize basic income under the slogan “Whoever you are, 600,000 won(510.16 USD) per month basic income.” It is also a very young political party with an average age of 27 years old. A total of 300 lawmakers are elected to the National Assembly that makes Korean law, and the Basic Income Party has one lawmaker.

1) What is Universal Basic Income?

The basic income definition of the global basic income movement (typically the basic income earth network) is “cash paid regularly to all individually without unconditional income or asset screening.” We aim to pay enough for one person to live with dignity.

2) Why income? Not the job?

This is because the era of “work is the best welfare” is coming to an end. Industries that are growing due to technological advances such as the 4th Industrial Revolution are “growth without employment.”

In Korea, 5-10% of the budget is spent on job support projects every year, and the jobs created by the government were unrewarding because they were short-term jobs and simple labor that could be done without special skills.

As an income guarantee policy, “Employment provision” forces you to work forcefully to make a living. I think basic income is more appropriate for the changing economic situation or for the future where you can live while doing what you want to do.

However, there is also a need for a change in the job guarantee policy. It is necessary to change simply providing jobs as an income guarantee policy to a decarbonized society and to create what is needed to provide care that is recognized as more important in the COVID-19 pandemic era.

In another aspect, I would like to tell you the legitimacy of basic income. The Basic Income Party wants to emphasize the legitimacy of basic income in that basic income as the right to receive dividends from our commons should be given to everyone.

3) Can Universal Basic Income (Basic Income) change the power structure of society?

Our society discriminates against disability, gender, and age for various reasons. For everyone, basic income as a right to share the commons means that whoever you are has the right to receive basic income, and you can better convince everyone that they should be equal, dignified, and undiscriminated against.

In addition, allocating the commons as basic income, such as land that was not created by humans in the beginning or big data, which cannot be clearly said to belong to anyone, can change the structure of ownership in our society.

4) How does Universal Basic Income affect immigrants, whether registered or not?

A. Unfortunately, even in the discussion of basic income in Korea, there is no discussion that basic income should be given to refugees or unregistered migrant workers.

In 2020, the spread of COVID-19 in Korea stopped earning income, and the Korean government, which proposed a stop in daily life, such as “distancing” to prevent the spread of COVID-19, provided disaster relief funds to all citizens. At that time, there was a discussion that disaster relief funds should also be paid to unregistered migrant workers because the entire Republic of Korea must be safe from COVID-19 while receiving disaster relief funds.
I think basicincome as everyone’s right should be expanded by asking who has the right to receive basic income as a member of our society in the future. To that end, we expect that refugees and unregistered migrant workers will also be able to open up through basic income discussions that they are equal members of our society.

5) In the left-wing society, there is an opinion that basic income is for capitalism, but how can basic income go beyond capitalism?

A. In Korea, there are voices of concern that if basic income is paid, various social welfare services will be replaced by basic income, and there are voices saying that social welfare should be reduced and on behalf of reduced social welfare, just pay basic income.

As mentioned earlier, basic income as the commons dividend can change the ownership structure, also can be an alternative to go beyond capitalism

Furthermore, capitalism is causing various inequalities. There are four inequalities that have been clearly pointed out by basicincomeparty. Income inequality, asset inequality, climate inequality, and gender inequality. An active policy like establishing a new tax and divide it into basic income is needed, so basic income is essential to resolve inequality.

It is important to discuss which kind of basic income to finance and how to start (in terms of deciding whether to reduce or strengthen welfare).


6) Many people cite the human rights of workers as the biggest problem in capitalist society. How can this Universal Income be a force to workers’ human rights?

The problem is that most workers in Korea are working at low wages, long hours, and unstable labor.
Working hours are long enough to compete for the world’s first and second place among OECD member countries. Reducing working hours can also provide jobs to people who have been excluded from labor and have not even had a chance to work. Basic income is required to reduce working hours without income loss.

Also, in order to improve poor working conditions, it is important for workers to increase their bargaining power. If sufficient basic income is paid, basic income will serve as a “strike fund that does not dry out” and will also increase workers’ bargaining power.

7) How can we achieve Universal basic Income?

The basic income party thinks that it is important to persuade everyone that basic income is needed as a everyone’s right. We are trying to promote the legitimacy of basic income as a “right to receive dividends from the commons”

Also, just as there are 50 states in the United States, there are 17 metropolitan governments in Korea. Among them, Gyeonggi-do, which has the largest population, pays basic income of 1 million won(850.40 USD) a year to 24-year-old young people, and the support for basic income is increasing due to the experience of the disaster relief funds in 2020. Leading presidential candidates are also actively discussing basic income as they pledge basic income. Through public debate on basic income at the national level, in-depth deliberation on basic income should be made with the people. A lawmaker of the BasicIncomeParty also proposed related laws.

We need to show the change that basic income can make. Through our party’s presidential candidate, we will work hard to inform people that we can live in a gender-equal and ecological society with our loved ones while not working for a long time.

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