Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Supported Employment Program: An Experience in Korea. (Supported Employment Korea)

By Lee, Dal-Yob; Yoo, Byung-Ju et al. | The Journal of Rehabilitation, January-March 2003 | Go to article overview

Cost-Benefit Analysis of a Supported Employment Program: An Experience in Korea. (Supported Employment Korea)


Lee, Dal-Yob, Yoo, Byung-Ju, Peters, Robert, The Journal of Rehabilitation


This article describes the use of a cost-benefit model as a tool that justifies a supported employment program in Korea. The article also provides insight into the Korean rehabilitation system as it has developed to this point. Awareness of various systems of rehabilitation can provide new insights to existing programs and services and assist with the development of new programs and services. Awareness of non-American systems can help develop tolerance and understanding in an increasingly global community.

In Korea, approximately 1.45 million persons fit within the legal definition of disability, as of the year 2000 this translates into approximately 3.09% of the total population. The 1999 Amendments of Disabled Persons Welfare Law (DPWL) of 1981 widened the scope of legal disability to include persons with kidney failure and psychiatric disabilities adding another 1/3 million persons as legally disabled.

There are four major pieces of disability legislation in Korea. Due to these legislative initiatives rehabilitation facilities and programs have increased tremendously.

During the years 1996 to 2000, the government budget more than doubled from 60,004,000 won to 147,630,000 won annually. One U.S. Dollar equals approximately 1,192 won, however the currency exchange rates fluctuate widely. The average inflation rate, at the time, was 2.4% while the Government Budget growth rates held steady between 9% and 14.5% during the same period. In spite of the legislative efforts to improve the quality of life of persons with disabilities many still experience institutional barriers and psychological stigma. National consensus to improve employment of persons with disabilities was lacking and the current unemployment rate was reaching 20% with a general unemployment rate of about 4%. Vocational rehabilitation strategies relied heavily upon a quota system. The agency responsible for the Disabled Persons Welfare Law (DPWL) had been focusing its strategies on assisting companies with 300 or more employees to comply with the quota requirement.

Rehabilitation Services

There are a couple of hundred welfare and rehabilitation institutes for persons with disabilities, with residential institutes as the predominant means for providing vocational rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities in Korea. The majority of institutes are related to job training, others provide services for those with physical disabilities and visual disorders with fewer institutes providing specialized services. The Korean System favors residential institutes over non-residential institutes for political and cultural reasons. The residential institutes serve over 16,000 persons annually.

Development of vocational rehabilitation systems and services in Korea is in a developing phase. The National Rehabilitation Center was established as a prototype rehabilitation facility in October of 1986. The services provided at this center include counseling, assessment, medical rehabilitation, prosthetic and orthopedic services, job training, and research. The Center was annexed in 1994 by the National Medical Rehabilitation Center to meet the growing need for specific medical rehabilitation services. Vocational rehabilitation services have been provided by several welfare centers for persons with disabilities and the Korea Employment Promotion Agency for the Disabled (KEPAD).

Societal changes and medical advances have led to lower rates of disability at birth. However, similar to the United States, the number of people with a disability due to accidents and age related disorders has increased (Szymanski, Linkowski, Leary, Diamond, & Thoreson, 1993). Existing Korean rehabilitation programs have been welfare-like in nature and there has been confusion between social work and rehabilitation concepts and practices. The rehabilitation service system in Korea has been dominated by social workers; hence a predominance of welfare like services that encourage residential treatment versus community based treatment. …

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