ICCE TIG Week: The Evolution of Evaluation in South Korea by Injae Son and Minji Cho

Hello, we are Injae Son, a doctoral student in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Evaluation (IDPE) program at Western Michigan University, and Minji Cho, a doctoral student at Claremont Graduate University. As South Koreans, we have recently been discussing the origins and practice of evaluation in our home country. Since we are among the few international members from South Korea, we would like to take this opportunity during ICCE week to share some insights into the history of evaluation in our country.

Part 1. History

It is imperative to mention the role of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in discussing the history of evaluation in South Korea (hereinafter, Korea). More specifically, the Office for Government Policy Coordination (OPC), which constitutes the PMO with the Prime Minister’s Secretariat, is the highest evaluation body of the Korean government and oversees and directs evaluation activities within the central government.

In 1962, the PMO introduced a system to review and analyze the basic operation plan for overall government policies. In the 1990s, the PMO added a system to comprehensively evaluate and adjust major policies related to multiple administrative agencies. During the PMO’s restructuring in 2013, the OPC reached its present form. Legally, the OPC acts as a central evaluation body based on Presidential Decree No. 15774, the Regulations on Review, Evaluation, and Adjustment of Government Affairs, and the Framework Act on Government Performance Evaluation. The OPC is responsible for evaluating various international aid and public services. For example, the Office for International Development Cooperation, under the OPC, evaluates foreign aid projects, while the Government Performance Evaluation Office evaluates non-profit organizations’ public service projects. Evaluation findings of these projects are available to all citizens through government-run websites, such as Government Performance Evaluation, ODA Korea, and NPO Public Activity Support System.

Recently, the Korean government has been developing its performance evaluation system, emphasizing communication and transparency in the performance management process. This process highlights the importance of all stages of planning, implementation and monitoring, evaluation, and feedback. It aims to ensure that the monitoring and evaluation results are utilized in establishing a mid to long-term plan, connecting the precedent efforts to new initiatives through cyclical management.

Part 2. State of the Art

Although there is no single professional evaluation organization that encompasses all disciplines, evaluation has become more integrated into and branched out from specific fields, such as education and public policy, in Korea. For instance, the Korean Society for Educational Evaluation and the Korea Association for Policy Analysis and Evaluation are among the leading organizations in the field of evaluation in Korea. Additionally, Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) has made significant contributions to advancing the field of development evaluation for Korea’s official development assistance. For example, KOICA developed an evaluation knowledge platform providing evaluation policies, strategies, and reports. Its evaluation strategies aim to decentralize evaluation functions, enhance local evaluation capacity, and improve the utilization of evaluation findings in decision-making. KOICA’s evaluation guidelines align with OECD DAC evaluation criteria, and emphasize partnership as its primary principle, reflecting Korea’s cultural emphasis on relationships. KOICA engages with local organizations and promotes joint evaluations, and while western-derived methods are commonly used, its principles reflect cultural values and perspectives.

Rad Resources:

If you want to learn more about this topic, please check out the following resources and also feel free to reach out to us (injae.son@wmich.edu; minji.cho@cgu.edu).

The American Evaluation Association is hosting International and Cross-Cultural (ICCE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the International and Cross-Cultural Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to AEA365 come from our ICCE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this AEA365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the AEA365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an AEA365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to AEA365@eval.org. AEA365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators. The views and opinions expressed on the AEA365 blog are solely those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the American Evaluation Association, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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