The “raison d’être” of social enterprises and their mode of survival vary according to sociocultural tradition of each society because they are created to meet specific needs of that society by mobilizing diverse social resources and through interaction between different actors. Therefore, the concept of social enterprises is not a stable one and it tends to evolve while creating a specific social phenomenon in its own environment. Among those who contribute to this movement, the role of civil society actors constitutes a core factor because most initiatives to set up social enterprises are launched by them. In this sense, it is necessary to analyse the social enterprise phenomenon in terms of social entrepreneurship dynamics highlighting the involvement of civil society actors.
As far as South Korea is concerned, social enterprise phenomenon can give controversial interpretations. Therefore, it would be more useful to take an empirical approach from different points of view for its better understanding. In the first section, I will examine its process of evolution in terms of institutionalization to show the situation of social enterprises in Korean society. And then I will try to analyse it in more extended context in relation with social economy sector and their achievements in both social and economic senses.
Finally I will conclude this article by questioning a little bit sensitive subjects in speculative way wishing to contribute to wider public debate for the development of social enterprises.