The South Korean government and the nation's ruling party agreed Saturday to maintain the policy of boosting economic growth with a focus on expanding the income of ordinary people.
The decision was made in spite of growing criticism of the signature policy of the left-leaning Moon Jae-in administration amid slower-than-expected job creation.
In an unprecedented gathering of all ruling party lawmakers, Cabinet members and presidential officials, the participants also agreed to seek ways to minimize the impact from the "change of a paradigm," according to a press briefing on the results of the session presided over by the president.
They also reaffirmed a determination to get the April 27 inter-Korean summit deal ratified by the National Assembly in a bid to drum up public support for the implementation of it, which requires state budget spending.
|President Moon Jae-in (L) walks into a Cheong Wa Dae meeting room, along with Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (R) and Rep. Lee Hae-chan, head of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, on Sept. 1, 2018. (Yonhap)|
The main opposition conservative Liberty Korea Party (LKP) is opposed to ratifying it, saying denuclearization is more urgent.
The session, held at the meeting at Moon's office Cheong Wa Dae, came two days after his first Cabinet shake-up to replace five ministers, including the defense chief and the top education policymaker.
Late last month, the Democratic Party of Korea picked Rep. Lee Hae-chan, a seven-term lawmaker, as its new leader.
At the start of the meeting, Moon called for an unswerving reform drive despite a falling approval rating.
"The task of the times that we have to achieve together is clear," Moon said: to create a fair and just country through strong and constant reform measures, widely dubbed the "liquidation of past malpractices."
He pointed out that South Korea is at a time of a "grand shift."
He stressed the need for addressing the gap between the haves and have-nots via an appropriate distribution policy and promoting the co-prosperity between South and North Korea on the basis of denuclearization and a peace regime.
To that end, the president said, Cheong Wa Dae, the ruling party and the government should make concerted efforts.
Moon, in particular, cited negative side effects from South Korea's growth-oriented approach in the past, such as widening income disparity and misconducts by some vested powers.
Inter-Korean relations were once broken and the cloud of war was cast over Korea, he said.
The time when the people publicly asked about "whether South Korea is a (desirable) country" is the very starting point of the Moon government, he said.
The new head of the ruling party said what's important for now is to win parliamentary ratification for the Panmunjom Declaration.
"Our party, the government, and the presidential office shared the view that the three key economic policies -- income-led growth, innovative growth, and a fair economy -- should be chased after to create a people-centered economy," the ruling party said in a statement.
It said the three parties had agreed to speed up the initiatives, although it would take time to change a long-held economic paradigm.
The party said it would closely cooperate with the government to provide legislative support for the key policies.
Moon's approval rating recently dropped below 60 percent, according to opinion polls.
His economic policy, especially the push for income-driven growth, has drawn fierce protests from opposition parties and other critics.
The LKP denounced Moon for his remarks.
The former ruling party regards Moon's reform drive, especially the liquidation of past malpractices, as means of political revenge.
It says his campaign is undermining national unity.
While the economy is in deep trouble, the president is concentrating on the fight against what happened in the past, the party's spokesman Rep. Yoon Young-seok said in a statement. (Yonhap)
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