Open and inclusive political systems are needed as means of improving democratic performance in an era of democratic governance. A government can benefit from wider public engagement when deliberating, deciding and carrying out public policy. In this article, the focus is on civic engagement in politics and the policy process in South Korea where government, at all levels, now uses a variety of engagement strategies and means. The discussion includes a brief overview of civic engagement, politics and policy. This is followed by an analysis of the growth of civil society and the civil society index in South Korea, and of various means of citizen engagement in the policy process. The overall conclusion is that civil society is relatively well developed with some citizen involvement in the policy process, but that there are still several barriers to participation and thus a considerable way to go in fostering its widespread occurrence and impact. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.