iCOOP puzzle: localistic practices, internationalism values, and Fair Trade in South Korea’s cooperative movement

Jiyun JEON*, Ngai PUN

*Corresponding author for this work

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


This article illuminates an intellectual puzzle of how South Korean cooperative movements attempt to overcome the dilemma between localistic practices and the value of internationalism. Moving beyond anti-capitalistic debates of building links globally, the cooperative movement brings Fair Trade products from developing countries to consumer cooperatives in South Korea, resulting in a scaling up of community economies globally and forging real international solidarity. Engaging with feminist theories put forward by Gibson-Graham and their collaborators, this article calls upon an expanded feminist politics that challenge the “spatial bounding” of community economies that are often joined with localistic practices. Born as one of the most significant forms of community economies to address the economic precarity of grassroots farmers and workers during the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, iCOOP was set up as a consumer cooperative federation to support local Korean producers with alternative market linkage. Through Fair Trade movement, iCOOP serves as an interesting case to overcome localistic practices and nurture the value of internationalism. This article develops an expanded feminist politics of community economies to confront the tendency of localistic practices by providing four layers of analysis: value, campaign tactics, new governance structure, and scaling solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalInter-Asia Cultural Studies
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Jiyun Jeon and Ngai Pun.


  • Anti-capitalism
  • feminist politics
  • cooperatives
  • Fair Trade
  • South Korea


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