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Juwon Seo, Cooperative Value Sharing Center, Korea

I believe that the spirit of solidarity in cooperatives can give vision and inspiration to young people.

The Cooperative Boom in Korea

In 2012, the International Year of the Cooperatives, the ‘Framework Act on Cooperatives’ became law in Korea. This provided a framework to establish and operate cooperatives to contribute to the social integration and growth of the country’s economy.

As a result, many cooperatives were formed, including the Cooperative Value Sharing Center (CVSC). CVSC is a workers’ cooperative formed by young people in their twenties to encourage their peers to understand that cooperatives can give them the independence to reach their future goals. CVSC also teaches young people about cooperatives, help them establish and grow youth cooperatives.

At that time, I was in university, studying International Business and Trade, looking for another path to my future. After undergoing major surgeries, my body and mind could not meet society’s standards where I had to compete with others for everything. I looked for an organization where collaboration among colleagues, not competition, was encouraged.

It was then that I learned about CVSC – they organized a study group for people who wanted to learn about the cooperative model. This is how I began my cooperative journey. I learned about cooperative history, laws, values, and how cooperative relationships exist not only with colleagues within the same organisation, but also with other cooperators. What impressed and inspired me the most was their attitude: CVSC cooperators treated each other as equals.

I found what I was looking for and was eager to be part of this cooperative. Six years after the boom of cooperatives in Korea, I became a cooperator with CVSC.

I work in the external relations department and have met many other young cooperators which has given me the opportunity to hear their views and vision. This made me understand that there is a special relationship with all cooperators. While the purpose of each cooperative is different, their goal to bring their communities and societies in a better direction brings us together in solidarity.

I believe that this spirit of cooperative solidarity can inspire young people to achieve their dreams. It has for me.