Sung-Jin Myoung

Ashoka Fellow
Bucheon, South Korea
Fellow Since 2014


This profile was prepared when Sung-Jin Myoung was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2014.
The New Idea
Sung-jin has created an innovative group-home cluster model – World Embracing Youths – recognizing that many juvenile delinquents fall into the cycle of recidivism due to relational and emotional deprivation in their families. A group-home cluster is a rehabilitation center in the form of an extended family consisting of three small group homes. Unlike other group homes and youth rehabilitation centers, Sung-jin’s model is unique in that it is big enough to give a sense of extended family but small enough to avoid the feeling of being institutionalized. This way, juvenile delinquents who have suffered from lack of family attention and support can build family-like relationships and be empowered to break cycles of recidivism.

In Sung-jin’s group-home cluster model, the role of parental figures is critical in creating a stable family environment, which in turn helps juvenile delinquents build lasting supportive relationships. Sung-jin recruits adults with their own history of delinquency to live and work with the youths on site for an extended period of time. Having faced and overcome their own personal problems, these adults can deeply empathize with the youths. Over time the youths are able to build long-term bonds and mutual trust with the parental figures, and get practical life advice. Sung-jin is creating apprenticeship opportunities for current employees and youth residents to spread his model in Bucheon and beyond.

Sung-jin leverages local at-risk youth networks in creating impact beyond the immediate members of group home clusters and lowering recidivism rates. Many existing efforts to address the soaring youth crime rate isolate juvenile delinquents from their peers in a worry that the “troubled kids” might propel other young people to indulge in criminal activities. However, Sung-jin recognizes that sending delinquent youths away from their communities for rehabilitation expands their criminal network, and the nationwide network in turn spreads trends of crime quickly. In Sung-jin’s model, local at-risk youth networks become a useful tool. He leverages the influence of juvenile delinquents over their peers in preventing youth crime and lowering recidivism rates. In the same way that crimes are often more infectious to peers when committed by key network leaders, positive changes can be spread more quickly if started from the core group of the networks.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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