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President Park continues meeting Heads of State, other world leadersFor wider exposure of Korea to the outside world

President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea (south) continues to meet the Heads of State and Government and various other prominent personalities of various countries of the world to widen the exposure of Korea to the outside world and increase cooperation, exchange and friendship between Korea and other countries of the world.

President Park Geun-hye (left) holds an interview with Bloomberg at Cheong Wa Dae on January 10.

President Park enjoys the full trust of the people, especially the common people, for her advantageous position telling her apart from all her predecessors who, in one way or other, have had investigations and interrogations by the law enforcement agencies after their retirement for suspected (and confirmed) involvement in various irregularities and corrupt practices.

President Park is in a uniquely different position from them.

She is unmarried and does not have a family, especially the offspring, to whom she has to bequeath any wealth.

Some of her predecessors have been found in amassing illicit fortunes in the amount of hundreds of billions of Won.

In sharp contrast with them, President Park is trusted by the people to have been and to continue to be clean and free from such dishonest practices in the future.

With such a clean hand, President Park has been cracking down on erring big business tycoons and carrying out the return of ill-gotten wealth and properties from the former Presidents, including the recent such feat from former President Chun Doo-Hwan.

Here are some of her recent activities:

President gives interviews to Blo- omberg, CNN

President Park Geun-hye recently gave interviews to two leading international media outlets in which she expressed her views on inter-Korean relations and unification on the Korean Peninsula. Regarding the issue of unification, President Park said, “Unification would allow the Korean economy to make a considerable leap forward and it would inject into our economy great vitality and energy,” in the interview with Bloomberg titled, “Park Extols Korea Bonanza with a North-South Unification,” published on January 13. In another interview aired by CNN on January 14, she said, “I’m of course open to meeting with him [the North Korean leader],” in order to improve inter-Korean relations and to enhance peace across the region.

President Park Geun-hye (left) holds an interview with CNN at Cheong Wa Dae on January 13.
In the Bloomberg interview, President Park said that her administration will work ceaselessly to promote more widely the shared recognition that unification must take place. “There is no knowing when unification will actually take place, but we will do our best to hasten that day’s coming,” she added. Bloomberg mentioned her approval rating which was at 53 percent on January 10, according to a Gallup Korea poll. The Bloomberg article said, “President Park’s handling of North Korea and other foreign-policy challenges has helped sustain her approval rating since taking office.”The article mentioned the agreement on the normalization of the Gaeseong (Kaesong) Industrial Complex reached by the two sides last August and said, “Park refused to surrender to ultimatums from North Korea and secured an accord in August to reopen the site with the North agreeing never to shutter it again for political reasons.” Pyongyang pulled out all of its 53,000 workers last April from the inter-Korean factory site located in the North Korean border city of Gaeseong as tensions were escalating in the aftermath of its February 2013 nuclear test. In regard to volatility on the Korean Peninsula and across Northeast Asia, the president told CNN that, “It is time we put priority on a robust national security platform and make sure we can safeguard the well-being of the Korean people.” In this respect she also emphasized close cooperation with neighboring countries, such as the United States and China. Regarding the possibility of more provocations from Pyongyang, she clearly said that, “any provocation will be met very firmly,” while stressing the importance of, “having thorough preparation for every eventuality.” In regard to the Korean economy, Bloomberg mentioned an, “online ecosystem,” also known as the “Creative Economy Town,” which her administration recently set up to promote the fusion of new ideas with information communications and other technology. The article further talked about the president’s “three-year economic innovation plan” designed to raise Korea’s potential growth rate by four percentage points, and mentioned the Korean finance ministry’s prediction that GDP growth will reach 3.9 percent this year.

'Korea is the most promising investment destination': Park

President Park Geun-hye held a New Year’s lunch meeting with overseas business leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on Jan. 9, 2014. At the meeting she said, “I would like to thank foreign businesses for investing in Korea with their continued faith in the economy, despite the global uncertainties found around the world,” said President Park to the participating CEOs of foreign firms and chiefs of chambers of commerce from the U.S., Japan, China, Europe and other major economies. “It is with great confidence that I can recommend Korea as the most promising destination,” she added.

President Park Geun-hye (right) delivers greetings during a lunch meeting with foreign business leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on January 9.
President Park emphasized that Korea has some of the world’s leading companies in high value-added manufacturing sectors, such as IT, automobiles, ocean-based industrial plant construction, has a strong parts industry and a high quality of human resources. She also stressed that the country is a good place to invest as it is closely linked through free trade agreements (FTA) to major economies like the U.S., EU and ASEAN.

President Park Geun-hye (center) highlights the strengths of the Korean economy by emphasizing how the country is the most promising investment destination for foreign businesses, at Cheong Wa Dae on January 9.

“The range of investment opportunities for foreign investors will be expanded,” said the President.
She mentioned the revised Foreign Investment Promotion Act which passed the National Assembly on January 1 as part of the Korean government’s efforts to create a helpful investment environment. President Park also said that her administration will make Korea, “the best country in the world in which to run a business,” by carrying out her administration’s three-year economic innovation plan.

The plan, first mentioned earlier this month, focuses on reforms in the public sector, the development of creative industries through the pursuit of her “creative economy vision,” and a rebalancing away from exports through the revitalization of the domestic market. At the meeting, the government revealed its plans to promote foreign investment in Korea by offering preferential personal income tax rates to expatriate businesspeople.

Park Geun-hye (left) shakes hands with foreign business leaders at Cheong Wa Dae on January 9.

According to the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy, foreign executives who work in Korea at the headquarters or regional offices of a foreign company will be subject to a flat personal income tax rate of 17 percent, unlike their Korean counterparts who are subject to a sliding personal income tax rate. This special tax rate is now permanent, previously only being eligible for tax year 2014.

Expatriate technicians or engineers who work in Korea at foreign companies’ research and development centers will be subject to a 50-percent discount on their income tax bill until 2018. Finally, if a foreign company employs at least one Korean national, it will be able to get a tax rebate worth up to KRW 20 million, up from the existing amount of 10 million, to put against their corporate taxes for the year.

'Enjoy your time in Sochi'

President Park Geun-hye visited the Korea National Training Center in Taeneung, Seoul, on January 8, exactly 30 days before the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics begins, meeting and encouraging the national team as it prepares for the upcoming winter games.

President Park Geun-hye (center, front row) poses for a photo with figure skating and short track athletes at the Korea National Training Center in Taeneung, Seoul, on January 8.
At the sports compound, President Park observed the national figure skaters during a training session, including Vancouver gold-medalist Kim Yuna. “Korea’s winter sports have a great future ahead of them thanks to excellent athletes like Kim Yuna. She’s a great motivation for younger athletes,” said President Park. The president of the Korea Skating Union, Kim Jae-youl, who heads up the national team, told President Park that many younger athletes want to become the next Kim Yuna. Minister of Culture, Sports & Tourism Yoo Jinryong praised the players, saying, “Our athletes learn from Kim Yuna and are showing faster growth than other players.”

After meeting with figure skaters and short track athletes, including Shim Suk-hee and Park Seung-hi, President Park looked around the training center’s Wolgyegwan Gym, observing athletes like Vancouver gold-medalist speed skater Lee Sang-hwa. In the guestbook, the president wrote a message of encouragement, saying, “I hope the Korean national athletes will do well at the Sochi Winter Olympics!”

President Park Geun-hye watches Vancouver Olympics gold-medalist speed skater Lee Sang-hwa as she runs through her daily training regimen at the Korea National Training Center in Taeneung, Seoul, on January 8
After looking around the center, President Park had lunch with the national team. During the meal, the president noted how she was revisiting the center for the second time, after her previous visit two years ago. “Whenever I come here, I am deeply moved by the passion and dedication of the athletes,” said the president. “I appreciate all the athletes and coaches who bring joy and inspiration to the people and I hope all of you can achieve your goals at the upcoming games,” she added.

President Park Geun-hye delivers words of encouragement to the athletes at the Korea National Training Center in Taeneung, Seoul, on January 8.

The president ended with a quote from “The Analects” (論語) by Confucius: “They who know the truth are not equal to those who love it, and they who love it are not equal to those who delight in it.” (知之者 不如好之者 好之者 不如樂之者.) She told the players to simply enjoy their time in Sochi rather than participate in the games with pride and the burden of being a national athlete representing the nation. “I hope all of you can enjoy the sporting event and just do your best, doing what you love the most,” said the president.

Figure skater Kim Yuna expressed her thanks to the president. “This is the first time for us to meet you in person. Your encouraging words have given us a lot of energy,” said Kim. She went on to say that she has just been going through her usual routine, rather than some extraordinary training regimen, as she prepares for the games, which will be her last before retirement. “The Sochi games will be the final stage of my professional career, so I will empty my mind and simply enjoy the event with no burden,” said the star figure skater.

President accents economy, unification at press meet

President Park Geun-hye held her official New Year’s annual press conference on January 6 and expressed her will to promote economic innovation and to improve both inter-Korean relations and the welfare of the people. “I will spend the new year making every effort to help the economy take great strides forward and to bring vitality and growth to the country and the people,” said the president at the press conference.

President Park Geun-hye poses for a group photo with the national Olympic team at the Korea National Training Center in Taeneung, Seoul, on January 8. The team is on its way to Russia for the Sochi Winter Olympic Games 2014. (Photo: Jeon Han)

President Park explained her detailed policy plans aimed at facilitating economic recovery, building trust on the peninsula, improving inter-Korean relations, with the final goal of a successful unification, and pursuing the happiness of the people and the overall development of the country. She introduced her “three-year economic innovation plan,” and said that if her plans are carried out successfully, “The potential growth of the Korean economy will jump by four percent and our per capita income will exceed USD 30,000 three years later.”

Emphasizing the importance of her “three-year economic innovation plan,” her main goal for the second year of her single five-year term, the president said that the pace of economic recovery will be maintained with the successful implementation of her plan.

President Park’s three-year plan involves reforms in the public sector, the development of the creative industries through the pursuit of her “creative economy vision,” and a rebalancing between domestic demand and exports through the revitalization of the domestic market.

To pursue her vision for the creative economy, the president said that she will launch private-public joint structures that will involve the government, small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), venture start-ups and major companies. She also emphasized the importance of the energy and environmental sectors, saying that, “If we have creative ideas, we can better respond to climate change and deal with the environment by creating new value-added services and new markets.” In this respect, she said that Korea will expand its research and development (R&D) in reducing green house gas emissions. “To solve both energy issues and issues of the environment, we will build an `environmentally friendly energy town` where people will be able to produce and trade electricity by using renewable energy sources suitable for the region.”

President Park Geun-hye proposes her policy directions for the new year during the official New Year’s annual press conference at Cheong Wa Dae on January 6.

In regard to domestic demand, President Park said that her administration will support SMEs so that they can invest more into the economy and contribute to invigorating the domestic market. She said that the government will focus on five selected service industries: health and medical care, tourism, finance, education and software. “To help small- and mid-sized firms grow and gain more competitiveness, the government will provide customized support,” said the president. She proposed a support structure for these smaller companies that would include not only financial support but also access to information and networks of larger companies related to their penetration into overseas markets.

In regard to Korean Peninsula issues, President Park said that, “Building the foundation for unification of the Korean Peninsula is another core task,” of her administration. The president expressed her will to consider various measures that might help to lead Pyongyang toward the complete dismantlement of its nuclear program. She said that the complete dismantlement of North Korean nuclear weapons is the key policy of her administration, fundamental to the eventual unification of the Korean Peninsula. “If the North takes a sincere step toward denuclearization, the two Koreas and the international community will be able to make meaningful changes, not only for substantial peace on the Korean Peninsula but also for co-prosperity across Northeast Asia,” said the president. To build the foundation for unification, President Park said that Seoul will strengthen its humanitarian aid toward the North and bolster cooperation with the international community to form a common understanding of unification.

To further improve inter-Korean relations, she proposed the resumption of family reunions during the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, the building of a world peace park in the DMZ and the finalization of a railroad system connecting all of Eurasia.

Based on her Northeast Asia peace vision and her Eurasia initiatives, President Park added that her administration will make every effort so that the unification of the Korean Peninsula would give benefit to all of its neighboring countries and contribute to the co-prosperity of the region.

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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