Village self-help approach comes to the cities

Saemaul undong, the "new community movement" that revolutionized life in Korean villages during the 1970s, has now moved into the factories. The movement was created b y the late President Park chung Hee in 1970 for the reconstruction of rural communities through the emphasis on self-help and cooperation.

It began with the replacement of thatched roofs with tiles, development of water supply and sewage systems, and conversion of mud tracks to paved roads. It eventually expanded into larger projects, such as extension of arable land, improvement of productivity, better working conditions and wages for agricultural laborers, and the development of improved varieties of grain seeds.

Over 30,000 villages have become involved over the past 10 years.

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So successful was the movement, in fact, that Korea's four main business organizations decided in 1974 it was time to adapt it for the country's changing industrial structure.

By 1979 over 16,000 factories were participating in the programs, which have also been enhanced by the establishment of two special training centers for Saemaul Undong leaders.

The four main aims of the movement are described as (1) enhancement of a moral ethnic that encourages workers to do their best on the job; (2) establishment of sound business ethics consciousness and social responsibility at all times; (3) promotion of productive and cooperatative relations between employer and employees; and (4) a joint labor-management business operating s ystem.

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