Archives of Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement)

Archives of Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement)

Country  Republic of Korea
Repository  Korea Saemaul Undong Center, 316 Yeongdong-daero, Gangnam-gu, Seoul 135-851 Republic of Korea National Archives of Korea, 189 Cheongsa-ro, Dunsan-dong, Seo-gu, Daejeon, South Korea
Section  Inscriptions on International Register
Gender Dimension  Achievements of women in history; Stories from women's perspective
GEM  GEM 2 – Gender Responsive
Description  Saemaul Undong (New Community Movement) was launched by President Park Chung Hee. It was a community-driven development program pursued during the 1970s and was a key long-term economic development program in the Republic of Korea.

The Archives of Saemaul Undong are in the custody of two institutions and include presidential speeches, government papers, village documents, letters, manuals, photographs and video clips related to Saemaul Undong. They illustrate the impact of Saemaul Dong on improving the lives and status of women and increasing their social and political participation in the Republic of Korea in the 1970’s.

Women in the Republic of Korea traditionally were bound by the Confucian patriarchal tradition of giving priority to males. The family roles of women were limited to those of mothers, daughters and daughters-in-law. The movement called on women to fulfill new roles that extended beyond their traditional roles within the family.

The movement used democratic procedures. For example, a woman leader was democratically elected in each of about 34,000 villages across the country. Women in rural villages emerged from traditional marginalization through active participation in the movement including the selection and implementation of projects through their participation in village general meetings.

The Saemaul Women’s Club played a key role in many villages in that it raised funds for community projects, increased savings in communal funds, and managed community assets through the Saemaul village banks. With the guidance and support of the government, the movement encouraged women in rural communities to initiate small-scale income-generating projects for their households. Many earned wages by working in Saemaul factories, generated side income from small-sale animal husbandry, or saved money in numerous ways.

The overall achievements of the movement included rehabilitation of village infrastructure, improvement in the overall rural living environment, and a significant increase in household income. Ultimately, the most important long-term benefits of the movement were not its outward tangible achievements, but rather those that resulted from the sweeping change in the mentality of the people.

The documentary heritage was inscribed onto the Memory of the World international register in 2013.
Reference  -

- Asia Development Bank. (2012). ‘The Saemaul Undong Movement in the Republic of Korea: Sharing Knowledge on Community-Driven

- Development’, available at

- Photo credit: © Korea Saemaul Undong Center