From “new social risks” to “COVID social risks”: the challenges for inclusive society in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan Amid the pandemic

Young Jun CHOI, Stefan KÜHNER*, Shih-jiunn SHI

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has created tremendous hazards to people worldwide. Incidence, hospitalization, and mortality rates have varied by individual and regional socioeconomic indicators. However, little is known about the indirect social and economic losses following the COVID-19 pandemic and to what extent they have disproportionately affected different groups of people. Building on the traditional conceptualizations of “old” and “new social risks,” this article tracks and analyzes the emerging “COVID social risks” in five critical areas: physical health, employment and income, skills and knowledge, care, and social relationships. The article empirically examines to what extent the manifestations of “COVID social risks” describe the makings of a new class divide in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. Finally, this article discusses whether “COVID social risks” present a temporary or lasting phenomenon and to what extent interactions with processes of digitization and de-globalization are likely to produce similar problem pressures for East Asian governments amid future crises. East Asian governments should facilitate individuals’ ability to absorb “COVID social risks” and institutionalize a new welfare policy settlement that emphasizes complementarities between the social protection, social investment, and social innovation policy paradigms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-274
Number of pages15
JournalPolicy and Society
Issue number2
Early online date10 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Yonsei University Research Grant of 2021, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press.


  • social risks
  • COVID-19
  • inclusive society
  • well-being
  • East Asia


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