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The Present and Future of the Autonomous District Youth Council in Seoul

Min Chul ShinㆍJung-Yong Lee

Lately, youth social participation in social issues such as student human rights and climate change is increasing. It is time to come up with various action strategies so that “participation” can be realized in the overall youth life.
It is worth paying attention to the “Youth Council,” which induces youth participation in the formal decision-making process of the local community, which is the basis of youth living. The purpose of this study is to diagnose characteristics and problems through the analysis of the operation status of the autonomous district youth council, and to seek practical plans for the operation of the youth council. For effective research, we cooperated with 6 Local Autonomy Research Groups that are highly interested in revitalizing the Youth Council.
As a result of analyzing the autonomous district youth council, the following operational strengths and weaknesses were identified. The autonomous district youth council was choosing the best operation method suitable for the autonomous district situation. It was found that this creates a decision-making structure that respects the opinions of youth, and consequently contributes to the improvement of youth' political efficacy. On the other hand, the autonomous district youth council generally has a more dominant aspect in its educational function than community participation. In addition, there is a lack of democratic legitimacy and representativeness as various youths are not able to participate in the composition of the youth council and are elected by appointment method. It appears that cooperation between schools and district councils, which need a substantial role in the operation of the youth council, is low.
This study set the core values of the autonomous district youth council as social (regional) participation and civic (political) education. Accordingly, the following policy directions were suggested. First, it is necessary to realize the unique values of the youth council, but to strengthen the diversity of each autonomous district. Second, it is necessary to expand the youth participation structure by securing the procedural legitimacy of the youth council composition. Third, the youth council should be operated as a space for daily participation of youth in connection with the school. Fourth, the youth council should reinforce the system for learning the structure of democracy through linkage between schools and local councils.