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ISSN : 2383-8051(Print)
ISSN : 2384-3411(Online)
Asian-Pacific Journal of Social Quality Vol.1 No. pp.71-84

Understanding Suicide in South Korea: Social Integration in the Time of Uncertainty

Andrew Ho KIM, Pildoo SUNG
Ph.D. candidate at the Department of Sociology, Korea University.
Master’s degree from the Department of Sociology, Korea University.
Correspondence to: Andrew Ho Kim
December 7, 2014 December 28, 2014


With the highest suicide rate among OECD countries, South Korea is facing serious problems regarding social integration. While many previous studies have focused on the meso or micro level factors responsible for suicide, this paper will discuss macro level changes affecting modes of solidarity within Korean society. In the 1950s and 1960s, Koreans shared the common goal of rebuilding the nation. Following that, the 1970s and 1980s can be viewed as the era of democratization, during which the development discourse and theses on equality predominated in equal parts. Since the mid-1990s, however, South Korea has been facing an unprecedented level of uncertainty. Each shift in the societal climate has created a different way for citizens to feel a sense of collective belonging. It is argued that as we enter an era where individual isolation can only get worse, research on suicide and on social integration in general should take into consideration national historical trends and their impact on individuals.