The Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice (CCEJ) was founded in 1989 by people representing various walks of life—economic professors and other specialists, lawyers, religious people, housewives, students, and young adults—in environments where the lives of citizens were threatened socially and economically by the soaring housing prices caused by real estate speculation and other events. These problems happened despite democratic initiatives such as reform of the direct presidential election system, basic labor rights, press freedom, and so forth as a result of the people’s nationwide democracy movements in June 1987.

Their slogan, “Let’s achieve economic justice through citizens’ power” reflected their belief that deep-rooted economic injustices could not be cured by the government alone, but ultimately must be solved by the organized power of citizens. They believed that the fruits of economic development should be shared by all common people, not just the small group of “haves”. They proposed a new methodology of gradually but thoroughly reforming the economic system. They founded CCEJ as a movement that would 1) be led by ordinary citizens, 2) use legal and nonviolent methods, 3) seek workable alternatives, 4) speak for the interests of all people, regardless of economic standing, and 5) work to overcome greed and egoism in order to build a sharing society.

CCEJ was placed in consultative status with UN ECOSOC in 1999. In 2003, CCEJ won the Livelihood Awards, also referred to as the Alternative Nobel Prize.