Ecosystem of Work, Play, and Life in Risk Society

Ecosystem of Work, Play, and Life in Risk Society

South Korea
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

In this time of grow without employment, Haja Center is throwing the questions: What is the creativity that we really need in this society? What are we called for here and now? Creativity that contributes to the sustainability for the whole society, that is to say, beyond the boundary of individual, company, industry, is what we are pursuing. We want to make a foundation where youth can have a “creative entrepreneurship of Steve Jobs and caring spirit of Mother Theresa.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Since the Asian Financial Crises in 1997, Korea rode on speed train of growth, which unavoidably sped up competition in every corner of society. For the past ten years, Haja Center has encouraged teenagers to make their voice on their rights and welfares in the society. But when the society itself is getting risky, efforts to make “temporary autonomous zone for teenagers” is not enough for their sustainable life. For the past ten years, the mainstream society has solidified the competition-based society, causing bipolarization among youths: small number of elite group, and over the million numbers of NEET group. Even the elite group youth are intimidated by high possibility of unemployment. When young people cannot have happy healthy mind, risk society cannot help becoming riskier. Now Haja Center is tackling this toxic environment by not only making competition-free environment but encouraging youth to reach out to the era where competition has no meaning.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

1. By the time Haja Center was founded, the society treated “school dropouts” as problem. Haja Center thought out of box: They have strength to refuse collapsing public education system. They are the very one who sense the transition of era better than grownups. Haja Center has worked as the place where teenagers unleash their energies into creative works. Haja Center didn’t make classes like school but opened studios where teenagers and mentors plan their projects together. Studios of Haja Center were crowded with motivated teenagers. Among them, there were teenage commentators. Some of them threw 10-time relay concert for opposing Gulf War. Haja Center offered the place for teenager who had their own voice to social issues. Such model was the first try in Korean educational field. Such trial catalyzed to open the new horizon of alternative education. Now alternative schools have become one of the options, progressive but considerable, for many parents and students. 2. Haja Center has pioneered social entrepreneurship in cultural, art and education sector in Korea. Almost all social enterprises were within the boundary of social welfare. Therefore the sector’s impact on the whole society was limited. Haja Center has contributed for the Korean social enterprise sector to reach out and make more social impact. Also by creating strong tie between its education programs and social enterprises, Haja Center is acting as conduit between social enterprise sector and the pool of young talents.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

With the mission of designing the future of youth in risk society, Haja Center has evolved herself from alternative learning place for youths who pursued innovative talent outside from the official school system, to the community of various innovative entities including alternative schools, social enterprises, creative program providers for public schools. We call our community “Haja Village,” where work, play and life with the spirit of creativity and caring is circulating as ecosystem. 1. Program-clusters for teenagers: Career Haja, the life-design programs with professional mentors, and C-Plat (Creativity Platform), the convergent creativity learning programs. 2. Alternative schools: Haja Production School’s students join various activities in civil society. One of their major activities is supporting refugee camp at the border of Thailand and Burma. Their consistent work led them to meet Aung San Suu Kyi February this year. Road Schola, run by social enterprise Travelers’ Map, has curriculum of learning liberal arts while traveling. Alchemist Project is project-based school for youngsters from support houses. Youngsters and grownup mentors work together to setup small business. Yong Chef, run by social enterprise Organization Yori, is for the youngsters from support houses by train them as chef. 3. Social entrepreneurship: The first social enterprise in Haja Center, Noridan, was one of the big projects based on Haja Center’s studios. Teenagers’ snack-bar project evolved into social enterprise Organization Yori. Now they are leading social enterprises in Korea. From this experience, Haja Center joined the Ministry of Labours’ social enterprise incubating project(2008~2010) in full-swing and gave birth 6 new six social enterprises. 4. Supporting post-teen youth, the demographics suffering the most from the unemployment in Korea. Haja Creative Hub, opened last October, offers a place for them to initiate their business or project. The place is not limited to out-to-be social entrepreneur, but anyone who has “socially creative” items. 5. Organizing active network within global civil society: The major action for this is Youth Creativity Summit, our annual gathering of social innovators since 2008. The summit is the showcase of ideas that tackle the issues in crisis society.
About You
Haja Center (Youth Factory for Alternative Culture)
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Haja Center (Youth Factory for Alternative Culture)

Organization Country
Country where this project is creating social impact
How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

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What stage is your project in?

Operating for more than 5 years

Share the story of the founder and what inspired the founder to start this project

Cho Haejoang, a practicing cultural anthropologist and feminist, is a professor at Yonsei University. Her early research focused on gender studies in Korean modern history; her current interests and research are in the area of education and youth culture in the globally connected post-colonial context of modern day Korea. She teaches: Gender and Society, Cultural Anthropology in the Globalizing World, Popular Culture , Qualitative Methodology, and Graduate Seminar on Alternative Education, and Information Society.
Cho is the author of [Women and Men in South Korea](1988), [Reading Texts, Reading Lives in the Post-colonial Era] 3 volumes (1992, 1994), [Chidren Refusing School, Society Refusing Children] (1996), [Reflexive Modernity and Feminism] (1998), [Children Searching School, Society Searching Children] (2000) and [talking at the Edge: Letters Between Japanese and Korean Feminists] (2004, coauthored with Ueno Chizuko) These Books are all in Korean. Two books are translated into Japanese; [Korean Society and the Gender] (Hose University Press) and [Can the Words Reach?](Iwanami Publisher).
As an 'action researcher', Cho has founded Haja Center 1999 and the Seoul Alternative Learning Community Network. She has also served as the principal of two alternative schools (The haja Production School since 2001 and Sungmisan Cummunity School between 2004-2006).

Social Impact
Please describe how your project has been successful and how that success is measured

During the year 2010, Haja Center provided services to 156,173 people in total: 114,856 young adults, 39,134 adults, 2,183 children etc. Among the up-to 200 hundred programs under the roof of Haja Center per year, let me introduce the most widely-reaching programs:
1. Vocational experience projects. Launched in 2008, the project was designed for teenagers experience various vocations, not merely shadowing jobs but making the time as start-point of their life design with the thorough mentorship of professionals. The project meets 7,500 teenagers every year.
2. During social enterprise incubating project with Ministry of Labour, 6 teams were certified. While incubating period, out-to-be social enterprise teams provided education programs to youth. The year 2009 only they offered educational services to 100,000 youth. Now all social enterprise in Haja Center building is acting as social creativity education platform of Seoul city.
3. Aside from direct incubating, Haja Center did various activities for social enterprises including, Social Entrepreneur Academy in 2009, Social Venture Competition(co-hosting). Haja Center organized social enterprises and engaged various events and programs sponsored by Seoul Metropolitan government, including Design Hanmadang and Nowstart etc. These efforts were recognized by Blue House and received Presidential Achievement Award in 2010.
4. The annual Creativity Summit that shows essence of Haja Center’s activities and agenda we are engaged, attracted more than five thousand people each year since 2009.

How many people have been impacted by your project?

More than 10,000

How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?

More than 10,000

How will your project evolve over the next three years?

Addressing our mission for the next three years as Life Design Center, Alternative Vocational School, and Hub of Social Creativity, we devout ourselves to find the practical solution to youth unemployment. Life Design Center plans to suggest the model of career education not limited to functional training, but including fundamentals for sustainable life as social being with mentors: from realizing aptitude to equipping the proper attitude toward the work, developing communication and inter-personal skills, problem-solving capability etc. In alternative vocational school, Haja Center and social enterprises collaborate to offer vocational training to teenagers out of school system and help them to be healthy social beings. Creative Hub is the stage for youths to debut as changemaker.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

Firstly, highly competitive market environment is the big barrier for social enterprises. During the incubating project with Ministry of Labour, Haja Center not only support the groundwork of setting up companies, but ran various social entrepreneurship education program such as mentoring and academies. While upgrading social entrepreneurship education programs, Haja Center is striding toward new area called “social market,” aiming to make a social-enterprise-friendly ground. From this May we’ve started Yeongdeungpo Monthly Market, the real market-place based on the local community as an initiator of new experiment.
Secondly, sustainability for youth. Cultural and creative industry is getting more and more commercialized. Actually that industry is one of the most underpaid industries for average young staff. Sustainability for youths in the industry is not guaranteed. Even society in general, creativity is in the limited forte of elite education and high-end industry. Creativity for social innovation is hard to bloom in real life world. Therefore, post-Haja life allows little room for Haja graduates to bloom what they’ve been aspired. Thinking out of national border is one of the ways we are now trying to expand the room for our young innovators. Unity with the people who believe in “what’s social in what’s creative” can help them to think widely and be empowered even when they act locally.
Empowering Creativity Summit is practical as well as symbolic effort for us to tackle the abovementioned two barriers. Creativity Summit works as showcase and inviting board of world’s social innovators, and the very place where young innovators spread their agenda and met mentors.

Tell us about your partnerships

1. As learning community, Haja Center has wide partnership in education field, locally and globally. From a government branches such as Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education to Seoul Alternative Learning Community Networks, Haja Center’s partnership doses not limited within particular propensity. Also we keep partnership with world’s leading creativity schools, including Hong Kong Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity, KaosPilots(Denmark), Knowmads(Netherland), etc.
2. We collaborate with professionals and various institutions in cultural and art sectors to develop creativity programs.
3. Ministry of Labour and other social enterprise incubating institutions, not to mention social enterprises, are our good partners. We are now working together to make environment and policies for social enterprises to work as innovative cell in our society.
4. Along with Seoul Metropolitan Government which is our major government partner, we are also working actively with Ministry of Women, and Ministry of Health and Welfare. Recently our partnership with government has been expanded. This year we agreed MOU with Jeonbuk Provincial Government on the region’s social enterprise incubating plan. Yeosu City has newly become our partner as Haja Center is curating Yeosu International Youth Festival this year,
5. We are also work closely with major NGOs in Korea to share social innovation agenda and make collaborative efforts for bright future of youths.
6. Corporate partners such as LG, Posco, SK, Naver, Daum Communications, join Haja Center’s program or events as sponsor or partners project-base.

Explain your selections

Cost of operation and staff wage (120,000~13,000 USD/per year) is subsidized from Seoul Metropolitan Government.
During the project with Ministry of Labour from 2008~2010, 110,000USD/per year was subsidized by the ministry.

How do you plan to strengthen your project in the next three years?

- Enhancing internal capability: Acquiring experienced professionals, invest in staff education program, strengthen specialist advisory group
- Expand external network: strengthen global partnership and develop exchange internship programs with current partners, establish experts pro-bono group
- Achieving independent financial ground: Diversifying financial resources with corporate partnership, encouraging work as independent entity or task force for venturous project, potentially grow as independent social venture.

Which barriers to employment does your innovation address?
Please select up to three in order of relevancy to your project.




Restricted access to new markets


Lack of visibility and investment

Please describe how your innovation specifically tackles the barriers listed above.

The biggest challenge we are confronting now is youth unemployment. However, merely increasing numbers of new jobs are easy and simple solution for most governments. Haja Center’s strategy to tackle this issue is making the examples and models of decent jobs which bring good value to an individual’s life as well as to society, and showing the model to the society and inspiring relevant government branches.

Are you trying to scale your organization or initiative?
If yes, please check up to three potential pathways in order of relevancy to you.


Grown geographic reach: Global


Influenced other organizations and institutions through the spread of best practices


Repurposed your model for other sectors/development needs

Please describe which of your growth activities are current or planned for the immediate future.

1. Creativity Summit International Board: Staring with Creativity Summit 2011, Haja Center launches Creative Summit International Board. (The ground work has started from January 2011). The board members' role is sharing agenda and inviting new innovators in the Summit platform.
2. Creativity Hub: In Sep. 2010, Haja Creativity Hub has opened as physical as well as spiritual infrastructure for out-to-be changemakers, As the place of gathering energy of people who are seeking creative solutions on social issues, Haja Creativity Hub is planning to be the commons of such people.
3. Jeonbuk Haja: Haja Center and Jeonbuk Provincial Government made MOU this year to collaborate for the province’s social enterprise incubating work. Making Jeonbuk Haja Center is in the process of R&D stage.

Do you collaborate with any of the following: (Check all that apply)

Technology providers, NGOs/Nonprofits, For profit companies, Academia/universities.

If yes, how have these collaborations helped your innovation to succeed?

Government branches support emission of our educational models and social enterprise incubating models. Technology Providers, from the beginning, support us to establish online learning community and develop social-media based programs. NGO/nonprofits are the very partner, sharing social agenda and tackling social problems together. Profit companies join our project partner as sponsor or co-producing youth programs. Yonsei university, as our umbrella institution, help us to finding new partners including schools and scholars overseas.