New Korean president vows public-led economic stimuli, bigger government

2017.05.10 00:23:44 | 2017.05.10 00:44:39

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South Korea’s president-elect Moon Jae-in who would bring the ruling power to the liberal camp for the first time in nearly a decade pledges to reinvigorate the slow-moving economy and tackle joblessness of young people by creating 810,000 jobs in the public sector. His agenda mostly requires bigger government role and supervision to ensure more balance growth and equality across the society.

Moon who pledged breakthrough in inter-Korean relation that has been in a stalemate for a decade under the conservative governments and greater defense sovereignty including reconsideration of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) already in posture softened his tone toward the end of the race amid criticism about his engaging policy towards North Korea that has become more unpredictable and intimidating under unruly leader Kim Jong-un who has decisively upped nuclear and missile saber-rattling and provocations this year.

To appease and woo conservative voters, Moon said he would have summit talks with U.S. President Donald Trump as soon as possible to reconfirm traditional alliance between the two nations. Ties between the long-standing allies have turned shaky with Trump demanding Seoul to shoulder the operational cost of THAAD and vowing to renegotiate the bilateral free trade agreement.

The former chief of staff to President Roh Moo-hyun who had served from 2003 to 2008 pledged to seek a supplementary budget of over 10 trillion won ($8.83 billion) as soon as he is inaugurated to the office whose five-year term immediately starts on Wednesday without a transition period.

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In addition to increasing public jobs such as firefighters, social workers, and non-commissioned officers, he said hiring can be increased by strictly enforcing the legal weekly work hours of 52 hours.

While reversing some of his agendas along the campaign, Moon has been consistent on the plan of reforming the chaebol sector. His slogan -divorce from past ills- sold well especially to the younger and liberal population still enraged from the scandal of former president Park Geun-hye who had offered favoritism to a select chaebol groups in return for donations.

He said he would create a state entity comprising of officials from the prosecution, police, National Tax Service, Fair Trade Commission, Board of Audit and Inspection, and Small and Medium Business Administration committed to prevent excesses and unfair practices of family-run chaebol groups.

His campaign pledge that includes stronger social benefits is estimated to cost 35.6 trillion on average over the next five years, or a total 178 trillion won.

Moon promised to do everything in the opposite of his disgraced predecessor who had been criticized for highhandedness, aloofness, and lack of communication. To unify the society bitterly divided over the former president’s impeachment among the liberals and conservatives, Moon promised to recruit figures from both the conservative and liberal front to create a “dream” team to tackle the challenges at domestic and overseas front.

Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook이미지 확대

Moon Jae-in and his wife Kim Jung-sook

He promised to oversee everyday state affairs at the Gwanghwamun, downtown Seoul, instead of the Blue House, and make every appointment transparent. He would realign law enforcement power by placing his security team under the national policy agency, separate the investigation and indictment authorities of the prosecution, and strip the national spy agency of the authority in domestic surveillance.

With regard to government reorganization, Moon vowed to create a new ministry dedicated to small- and mid-size venture businesses and to hand over trade matters currently overseen by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy back to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Moon also promised to set up a presidential committee on the fourth industrial revolution.

By Kang Gye-man and Oh Soo-hyun

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