This paper explores the socio-political context of the neoliberal subjectification of youth in a particular moment of South Korean history 1997-2001, the confluence of the Asian Debt Crisis and the ascendancy of the nation's first civilian president with no affiliation to the military, Kim Dae Jung. The changing value of underemployed youth, suddenly represented as 'deserving welfare citizens' and valuable human capital, demonstrated the vast penetration of neoliberal values in South Korean society, conspicuous not only in state policies on welfare and industry but also in people's daily lives. Based on the author's observations of Seoul city managers and underemployed youth working in a Public Work Program during the period, this paper analyzes discourses related to the neoliberalized view of the value of youth during this period, including discourses on 'venture companies,' 'flexible labor,' 'new intellectual,' and 'the human capital of youth.'.
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