In her address at the National Assembly plenary session
President Park vows efforts to in-
crease international cooperation
President Park Geun-hye said that she will strengthen the diplomatic power of the Republic of Korea, increasing foreign direct investment in Korea through a sales diplomacy and helping Korean businesses participate in infrastructure construction and other businesses in the overseas market. She said that she will also try to help the Korean business jointly entering the third countries together with industrialized nations. President made the speech at the National Assembly in Seoul on Nov. 18, 2013.
She said that when her new government started in February this year, the Korean economy had been making a zero growth for the seven consecutive quarters. In order to improve this situation, she recalled, the new government drew up a supplementary budget plan for 17.3 trillion won and used a special measure to rekindle real estate market. The government also took steps to encourage investment by the businesses and increase export by small and medium industries.
Such measures, she noted, started taking effect and made the economic growth to a one-percent level in the past two consecutive quarters, including increase of employment by 400,000 persons for three months in a row and boosting exports to over US$50 billion a month last October for the first time in the history of Korea.
Then she said that she will shift the paradigm of economic development from Korea’s pursuit after advanced countries to one where Korea will lead the development through creative economy.
“During my tour of the European countries,” she said, “I personally learned how the United King, France and other member countries of the European Union attained enormous value-added and created new jobs through creative economy.” “There I became fully convinced the direction where the Korean creative economy should proceed.”
Elaborating on the creative economy of Korea, President Park emphatically said, “I will now boldly eliminate the restrictions and control that may be in the way obstructing the smooth fusion among different businesses.” Then she said that she will substantially increase technological and fund assistance so that good ideas will be industrially and commercially utilized in various fields, including medical service, culture, environment, maritime industry, food and agriculture. “For this purpose,” she disclosed, “the government will increase the budget of these industries by 12% to 6.5 trillion won,” she disclosed.
On the cultural area, President Park disclosed her plan to create a Culture Promotion Committee under the direct control of the President increase the budget for the culture to 5.3 trillion won that accounts for 1.5% of the total amount of the national budget.
“We understand that Europe leads the culture of the world,” said Park, “and in Europe I saw the young people excited about the Hallyu Korean Wave such as K-POP, Korean movies and dramas, which confirmed that boundless possibilities of the cultural industry.”
On the problems of the Korean peninsula, President Park said, “At this time, it appears that we have a very long way to go to the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula but that it is something we must attain at all cost.” I pledge that I will build a firm base before the end of my tenure based on which we can attain the peaceful unification of the country. Then she promised all possible efforts to help North Korean become a responsible member of the international community.
President Park then stressed the importance of the process of trust building between the Republic of Korea (South) and North Korea and realization of the denuclearization of North Korea.
Then she disclosed an ambitious plan of construction of the EurAsian Railroad, ‘Silk Road Express (SRX), starting from the Busan Metropolitan City of the Republic of Korea and extending all the way to Europe via North Korea, the Russian Federation, China and Central Asia. “I am sure that this new Silk Road will open an avenue leading to the peaceful unification of the Korean peninsula.”
On the domestic political situation, President Park pledged her effort to disclose all the details of various problems and allegations to the people and hold the people involved in the cases responsible as soon as the judiciary authorities pass their judgment on the cases. “It is high time that we put an end to confrontation and conflict and I plead that you will have trust in the determination of the government and wait for the judgment of the judiciary authorities on the issues.
On the relations between the Administration and the National Assembly, President Park said, “The Administration and the National Assembly should maintain the relationship of mutual control and balance and seek productive cooperation between them.” Then she said that the National Assembly was the center of politics and that there was nothing that could not be discussed and resolved in the National Assembly.
“If the ruling and opposition parties fully discuss the different issues and problems between them and find solutions,” said promised, “I will follow such decisions.” Then she said, “If the National Assembly arrives at a decision on the basis of agreement between the ruling and opposition camps, I will regard them as the will of the people and follow them.”
Political, media responses to President Park?
The conservative-oriented Korean-language daily Dong-A Ilbo said on Nov. 19, 2013 that when President Park entered the main hall immediately after the declaration of the opening of the session by Speaker Kang Chang-Hee, the ruling Saenuri Party lawmakers all stood up from their seats and gave her a big round of hand but the opposition Democratic Party (DP) lawmakers gave no applause although they, too, stood up. Excerpts from the Dong-A report follow:
There even were some DP Assemblymen (Reps. Chung Se-Kyun and Lee In-young) stayed seated and a total of 28 DP lawmakers did not even come to the main conference hall not to hear the speech of President Park.
The Saenuri Party lawmakers gave an applause on 33 different occasions throughout the 30-minute Presidential speech, but the opposition lawmakers gave no applause from the beginning and end of Park’s speech. Rep. Moon Jae-in of the DP, former Presidential candidate (against the then ruling party Presidential Candidate Park Geun-hye), silently listened to Park with his eyes moving between Park and the monitor screen.
Out-and-out opposition United Progressive Party lawmakers all wore a white mask with Minju (‘Democracy’) written on it in black letters. When the other lawmakers gave a big round of hand, UPP Assemblyman Kim Sun-dong raised up a small placard reading, “Stop Your Move to Dissolve the Political Party” (meaning the UPP).
Independent lawmaker, Rep. Ahn Cheol-soo stood up when President Park entered and main conference hall and again when she left the room. Rep. Ahn gave an applause when President Park said, “I will come again and speak at every regular session of the National Assembly.”
After she finished her speech, she came down from the rostrum and offered to shake hands with Rep. Kim Yun-deok (DP) sitting at the front row. Kim reluctantly held her hand but kept seated at his seat.
In contrast, all the Saenuri Party lawmakers continued to give President Park a standing ovation until she had completely gone. Rep. Cho Kyung-tae of DP stood up seeing off Park walking out of the conference room but, in a strange contrast, the well-known Saenuri Party lawmaker, Lee Hae-O (former President Lee Myung-bak’s righthandman) remained seated like the other DP lawmakers who kept seated.
In contrast, opposition-oriented Korean-language daily, Hankyoreh Shinmun, said on Nov. 19, 2013 that President Park Geun-hye made many remarks that reminded the audience of the period of rule by her father, the late former President Park Chung-Hee. The representative opposition newspaper said that President Park, who repeated the expression of “Miracle on the Han River” four times at her inaugural address last February reminding the people of her father’s achievements, appeared to be trying to arouse reminiscent feelings among the conservatives to cause them to remember the ‘good old days’ of her father’s rule. Excerpts follow:
President Park mentioned the Koreans working in the construction sites in the Middle East, fighting in Vietnam and mining in coal pits in West Germany to make ‘seed money’ needed in achieving economic development during the rule of her father in the 1960s and 1970s. Then she said that in order to realize the economic achievements once again workers she needed the members of the National Assembly join her effort to attain economic development like the one in the past.
President Park revealed that she would carry on the achievements of her father for a ‘Second Miracle of the Han River’ when she stressed the importance of materializing the Creative Economy which was one of the major items of her election pledges.
Almost in all her major speeches, President Park uses expressions reminding of the days of her father, which indicates that she is not quite free from her reliance on her father. Professor Han In-sup of the Seoul National University College of Law said President Park had better call herself “Park Chung-Hee the Second."
Full text of
speech by President Park Geun-hye:
Fellow Koreans, Honorable Speaker Kang Chang-hee and distinguished members of the National Assembly, I am very pleased to be back here in the National Assembly to deliver an address in the great hall of the people's representatives. It has only been about nine months since I took the presidential oath of office on the National Assembly grounds.
I am filled with deep emotions to be here because this is the place where I worked as a legislator for 15 years putting in long hours and contemplating deeply, sometimes in a ruling party seat and other times in an opposition seat.
I believe the purpose of politics is to address the suffering and difficulties of the people and bring happiness to them. Together with you all, I will continue to do everything I can for the happiness of the people and the progress of the nation.
Many countries around the world are now at risk of sliding into a global economic crisis and recession. All nations are going all out to meet this crisis and create even just one additional job. We, too, are facing many difficulties. In order to tide over the current crisis at home and abroad, we should pool our strength and achieve innovation in all areas. We should also stay ahead in international competition.
As President, I have devoted myself to enhancing our diplomatic capabilities, attracting more investment through sales diplomacy and formulating a framework to help Korean businesses make entry into overseas markets and form consortiums with companies in developed countries to advance into third countries for such projects as infrastructure construction.
I will work to ensure that this path will continue to stretch and widen. I am convinced that such endeavors will contribute to the Korean economy and help it surmount the current crisis.
Countries around the world are now engaging in relentless competition behind the scenes to gain a dominant position. Moreover, we do not have much time.
What made our economy move beyond difficult times and rise was the hard work of those who labored late into the night at factories, laboratories, companies, markets and farming and fishing communities as well as the dedication of those who risked their lives working in deserts, jungles and mines overseas. Now is another time for us to stand at the starting line once again to meet a new challenge.
Traveling on the path lying ahead of us requires cooperation and trust from the members of the National Assembly who represent the people, who pulled off the Miracle on the Han River.
Since my inauguration this past February, I have worked hard to lay the cornerstone for running state affairs by setting four major administrative priorities?economic revival, happiness for the people, cultural enrichment and the foundation for peaceful unification. The details of the policies on these priorities have been made public and bills to implement them have been written. Through my address today, I will explain the direction of the administration of state affairs for next year and budget proposals for key policies promised to the public. I ask for your cooperation.
Fellow citizens and distinguished members of the National Assembly,
I have a vision of achieving economic revival through a fundamental shift in the economy and making the Republic of Korea a country where everyone can lead happier lives through enhanced quality of life.
Looking back at the time when the new Administration was launched in the aftermath of the global economic crisis, our economy continued to post low growth rates in the zero-percent range for seven consecutive quarters.
At the outset of the new Administration, the Government drew up a supplementary budget in the amount of 17.3 trillion won in a bid to rekindle the fire of economic revitalization, and at the same time it pushed for extraordinary measures to jumpstart the real estate market.
Afterwards, investment-boosting measures were unveiled on three different occasions and proactive support for economic reinvigoration was provided, including the provision of export assistance for small and middle-sized enterprises. Thanks to all these, we began to see some signs of hope for our economy.
Of late, economic growth rates have risen to the 1 percent range for two consecutive quarters, and more than 400,000 new employees have been added for the third month in a row. In October, monthly exports exceeded US$50 billion for the first time in history.
But, these are only a few signs of the incipient recovery. It is crucial to continue this momentum.
It is imperative that the push for economic revitalization, the creation of jobs and stabilization of lives should be further strengthened so that the trend of economic recovery can spread across all fronts of the economy and be truly felt by the people.
To this end, the budget proposal for the next year placed the greatest emphasis on the reinvigoration of the economy and the creation of jobs to ensure the sustained trend toward economic recovery.
There will be a drastic increase in support for SMEs and small merchants as well as in assistance to raise the income of farming and fishing communities and enhance the capabilities of exporters. More investment will be made to generate a future source of growth by creating an ecosystem for venture businesses and startups and by nurturing high-value-added service industries.
Fiscal difficulties notwithstanding, funds have been earmarked for local government finances and infrastructure investment, which has a direct bearing on the revitalization of local economies.
Deregulation, which has been focused on manufacturing and environment sectors as well as industrial sites, will be further carried out across all industries so that more investment will be funneled into them. Notably, bold steps will be taken to ease regulations on high value-added service industries such as healthcare, education, finance and tourism.
A mentoring system for merit--based employment will be introduced to provide support for creating jobs tailored to different age and gender groups--for young people, women and senior citizens. The number of workplace nursery schools will be increased to create a better employment environment, so women can work without anxiety. More support will be given for the introduction of a salary peak system.
There will also be an expansion of support for businesses that create new types of flexible-hour jobs to improve working conditions. Necessary support will be provided to establish more smart work centers. With the aim of bolstering employment welfare, occupational training programs to meet the needs of job seekers will be expanded. SMEs are playing the greatest part in employment. A ladder for them to climb to become strong mid-to-large businesses will be properly installed.
Fellow citizens and distinguished members of the National Assembly,
The Government is pursuing a creative economy through a new economic paradigm that will help turn the development strategy for catching up with advanced economies into a pace-setting strategy.
During my recent tour of Europe, I could see for myself that EU countries like the United Kingdom and France are generating immense added value and creating job opportunities by means of a creative economy. I could reaffirm my confidence in the direction our economy should follow--toward a creative economy.
The Government has thus far placed emphasis on laying the groundwork for a creative economy by helping to create an ecosystem for setting up ventures, providing support for venture businesses and SMEs to break into global markets and nurturing software and Internet-based content industries.
A website for a "Creative Economy Town" was also established to help those who have difficulties in turning their brilliant ideas into businesses so that they can realize their dreams and make contributions to the nation’s economy. Through the website, people have so far suggested about 3,000 ideas from those aimed at addressing inconveniences in everyday life to those for manufacturing new products with advanced science and technology. As of now, about 2,500 mentors are helping them to flesh out their ideas so that they could make enhanced contributions to vitalizing the creative economy.
Many imaginative and creative ideas that are posted on the “Creative Economy Town” website will surely serve as a driving force in ushering in a new era in Korea and realizing a second miracle on the Han River.
The Government will drastically abolish regulations that stand in the way of convergence and integration between different types of businesses, the core of the creative economy. On top of this, it will provide significantly increased financing and technological support so that bright ideas in many fields, including culture, healthcare, medical service, the environment, the ocean and agri-food, could be commercialized.
In order to help new ideas and technologies of the people serve as the growth engine of our nation, a total of 6.5 trillion won will be injected into creative economy-related projects, a 12 percent increase from this year’s budget. In this connection, I urge you all to work together to ensure that the projected budget will be used for the sake of promoting the people’s will, imagination and technological prowess.
The foundation of the creative economy, economic democratization constitutes an underlying principle needed to revitalize the economy in the market economy system.
Thanks to bipartisan collaboration at the National Assembly, it has been possible to legislate bills concerning economic democratization to protect the rights of subcontractors and owners of franchise stores, who are left behind in competition, and tighten controls on unjust inside trading between business groups. Continued efforts will be made to make sure that a fair, transparent market order will take firm root in all aspects of the economy.
When it comes to economic revitalization and job creation, there should not be any separation between the National Assembly and the Administration, between the ruling and opposition parties. All parties concerned have to join forces. At the moment, bills aimed at creating jobs and reviving the economy await passage in the National Assembly. These include bills to promote foreign investment, invigorate investments in the tourism sector, normalize the housing market and support the establishment of SMEs for the realization of the creative economy.
If the bills for the promotion of foreign investment and invigoration of investments in the tourism sector were passed, they would have the effect of inducing investments worth 2.3 trillion won and creating 14,000 new job opportunities and 2 trillion won and 47,000 new jobs, respectively.
In addition, income tax and housing market-related bills have to be first passed so that the housing market can be revitalized, which is crucial for the recovery of our economy.
All these bills will help relieve the burden on the shoulders of many heads of households and help other people, especially the young, find new hope.
If these bills fail to be passed in a timely manner, the Korean economy that is now showing signs of recovery would likely sink into a quagmire of recession again. I urge you all to collaborate to pass all pending bills at this regular session of the National Assembly.
Happiness for the people
My fellow citizens and members of the National Assembly,
Only when life after retirement is comfortable, people are protected from disease and poverty and giving birth to a baby and child rearing are regarded as a genuine blessing will the foundation for an era of happiness be laid.
For the sake of helping stabilize the lives of senior citizens who are financially strapped and life after retirement for all, the Government earmarked 5.2 trillion won with an aim to introduce a basic pension plan in July next year.
By revitalizing the economy, the Government will do its utmost to make up for what is inevitably left unaddressed by the plan because of difficult economic conditions.
The Government is switching to a welfare paradigm focusing on the provision of services tailored to different life stages to offer necessary assistance to individuals in a timely manner. In this connection, a bill to ensure a basic standard of living has been submitted to the National Assembly.
In this way, the Government has expanded the budget for welfare services to improve the lives of the people.
The Government will thoroughly prevent the leakage of welfare funds, for instance, by ensuring that they do not fall into the wrong hands. On top of this, it will establish a system to facilitate the convenient use of welfare services by tearing down the walls between different welfare service organizations.
Education is also of immense significance for the happiness of the people. A far-sighted vision for another 100 years has to be reflected in formulating education policies. All students have to be allowed to fully demonstrate their potential to grow into creative minds. Only then will the competitive edge of our country be ultimately sharpened.
To this end, the Government has introduced a test-free semester system on a trial basis for middle school students to help nurture their dreams and talents. With the expansion of discretionary curriculum, the focus on arts and physical education and the reinforcement of career and vocational education, it is improving curriculums at the elementary, middle and high schools.
Starting next year, daycare classes at schools will be significantly enhanced, burdens stemming from expenses for private education and college tuitions will be alleviated and increased efforts will be made to foster universities in provincial areas.
In this connection, the budget bill and special bills for a new tuition loan program, which will allow students to repay their school loans after they get a job, and for the promotion of local universities are pending at the National Assembly. These bills also have to be passed this time for the sake of students, and I ask for your active collaboration.
Protecting life and public safety is an essential prerequisite for the happiness of the people. Over the past nine months, the Government has done its best to make Korea a safer place by combining our advanced IT with disaster and safety management. Notably, efforts to root out four social evils, including sexual violence, school violence, domestic violence and substandard food, have produced significant results, sharply dropping recidivism with regards to sexual and domestic violence.
For the safe living of the people, the Government has increased the budget for the eradication of the four ills by 6.6 percent next year compared to this year. The budget for disaster management and safety in everyday lives has amounted to about 3 trillion won.
The Government will continue enhancing its capabilities to guarantee a secure and happy life for the people.
My fellow Koreans and members of the National Assembly,
Our cultural heritage dating back several thousands of years has priceless value. I will take the initiative in helping our culture demonstrate more of its unique flavor, enhancing our self-esteem by promoting it all over the world and helping it receive global recognition.
I will make Korea a happier place to live in thanks to culture by helping knit cultural values into every nook and cranny of our society.
In this connection, the Presidential Committee for Cultural Enrichment was established, and for the full-fledged implementation of the policies for cultural enrichment next year, the Government increased its spending on culture to 1.5 percent of the total government budget, to 5.3 trillion won.
By supporting an expanded and diverse range of infrastructure for culture, we will make it possible for every Korean citizen to enjoy cultural activities in daily life. We will also increase support for the promotion of the humanities as well as traditional and regional culture, all of which are a key source of cultural enrichment.
I hope this regular session will be an occasion to solidify the foundation of our efforts for cultural enrichment through the smooth enactment and amendment of key culture-related legislation, including the basic act on culture as well as the Regional Culture Promotion Act and Artist Welfare Act.
In terms of industry, culture is the best sector for realizing the creative economy. I saw firsthand in Europe, that world center of culture, how young people have embraced K-pop, Korean films and dramas. What I saw confirmed for me the boundless potential of our culture industry.
The cultural content industry has brought together thousands of years of Korean cultural heritage, the creativity of the Korean people and information and communications technology. We will actively support this industry to make it a new growth engine for national development.
Recently, much concern has arisen over the substandard restoration of Sungnyemun Gate. A rigorous investigation will be made of the overall problems affecting maintenance and management of all cultural heritage sites, including Sungnyemun, so that fundamental improvements can be made to the management system.
Laying the foundation for peaceful unification
Fellow citizens and distinguished members of the National Assembly,
The path toward peaceful unification on the Korean Peninsula may seem long and arduous, but it is a path we must take. I will ensure that the foundation for peaceful unification is established while I am in office, and I will make every effort to see North Korea make changes toward becoming a responsible member of the international community.
Before and after the launch of my Administration, North Korea heightened tensions with threats of military provocation as well as the shutdown of Kaesong Industrial Park. The complex has since been reopened, but the three central issues of passage, communications and customs clearance have yet to be resolved. Efforts for the actual normalization of operations and, further, for the internationalization of the park, have seen little progress.
Nevertheless, on the basis of firm principles and patience, the Government will carry out the trust-building process on the Korean Peninsula, building trust between the South and North and continuing efforts to make the right improvements to this relationship. If trust is developed, including with regard to the North Korean nuclear issue, this will allow for expansion of economic cooperation to a wider range of areas.
My hope is that North Korea will abide by its promises to the international community and take steps toward dialogue and cooperation. If it does, we will be able to begin working on the Eurasian railway that I have proposed, the Silk Road Express (SRX) that will depart from Busan and travel through North Korea, Russia, China, Central Asia and Europe. And if we achieve this, we will be able to make great strides on the road to peaceful unification.
The Government has prepared and submitted next year’s annual budget to the National Assembly with a focus on achieving the above four administrative priorities. I urge you to review it thoroughly and take action in a timely manner so that various projects to revive the economy and improve the quality of life for the people can be carried out as planned at the start of the New Year.
New changes and challenges
Fellow citizens and distinguished assembly members,
I sought to become President in order to devote myself to the people and build a nation where all could live happier lives.
Today, we live in a time when nations stand or fall by how quickly they can change. The Government and all in the political sphere must break away from the norms of the past and work together for the people’s best interests.
With an emphasis on correcting previous wrong practices and institutional arrangements, the Government plans to pursue new changes and new challenges.
Chronic and structural corruption will be stamped out in each sector, including the energy and defense industries, railroad facilities and the cultural heritage sector. The public sector will take the lead in carrying out reforms. We will make sure that the problems of lax management and wasteful spending pointed out in the recent national audit report are not repeated.
Furthermore, in accordance with the principles behind Government 3.0, we will create a system that necessitates self-reform by public organizations by requiring that all information related to management, including information on liabilities, wages and benefits packages, is made available to the public.
I ask all elected officials also to break with the old ways and direct their efforts to opening a new future. When politicians engage in politics for the people that seeks the people’s comfort and happiness, this will make life better for all involved.
Nearly a year has passed since the presidential election. Yet divisions and discord persist to this day, and as President, I find this situation truly unfortunate.
With regard to the issues that have been raised in the public sphere, the Government will present the facts to the public as soon as possible. In accordance with the decision of the Judiciary, if there is any responsibility that must be accounted for, all appropriate measures will be carried out without fail.
I ask you at this time to put an end to the divisions and conflict and place your confidence in the Government’s commitment to action and the decision of the Judiciary. In the days ahead, the Government will be upholding strict standards of discipline for those in public office in order to prevent even the slightest doubts about political interference from being cast on elections, including the local elections to be held next year.
As the Government is also preparing to submit a plan of action for reforming national intelligence services, I ask that this issue would be discussed and examined in-depth by the members of the Legislature.
It is pressing now that the Administration and the National Assembly hold one another accountable through mutual checks and balances and make progress toward a productive and cooperative relationship.
The National Assembly is the center of national politics. I do not believe there is any issue that could not be discussed in the National Assembly. Should the ruling and opposition parties, having had adequate discussions, reach an agreement on any issues including those raised recently by the opposition parties, I will respect and accept their conclusions. The Administration cannot act on the opinions of either ruling or opposition parties or on the opinions of individuals. If the National Assembly can find common ground, I will receive their decisions as the will of the people.
Furthermore, in demonstration of my respect for the National Assembly, I will seek to create a new political culture as I henceforth will address the members of the Assembly at the regular session each year and seek their cooperation. My Administration and I will always be ready to take your reproofs and your recommendations to heart.
Korea's great journey into a brighter future will continue. Let us build this future together.
Thank you very much. k
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