President Moon Jae-in met with Chairman of SoftBank Group Corp. Masayoshi Son at Cheong Wa Dae for an hour and a half from 2:00 p.m. today. Their meeting lasted 50 minutes longer than originally scheduled.
President Moon greeted Chairman Son by recalling his 2012 visit to the headquarters of SoftBank, saying that the Chairman’s Asia Super Grid initiative had greatly inspired him at that time.
Saying that Chairman Son’s initiative had helped him formulate his own vision of a Northeast Asia Super Grid, the President commented that he hoped to see his proposed East Asian Railroad Community develop into a Northeast Asian energy community, a Northeast Asian economic community and finally a multilateral security community. The President asked the Chairman to name the best sectors for Korea to concentrate on in order to lead the Fourth Industrial Revolution and accelerate a second venture boom.
President Moon noted the fact that Chairman Son had explained to former President Kim Dae-jung the necessity for a high-speed internet network and advised former President Roh Moo-hyun to foster the online game industry during their terms. The President expressed his gratitude to the Chairman by saying, “Your advice was of immense help to the Korean economy at that time.”
Recollecting his past advice to President Kim, Chairman Son said he had emphasized that Korea should place its first, second and third priorities on high-speed internet. He went on to express pleasure at Korea having now grown into the world leader in terms of high-speed and mobile internet access as well as having nurtured countless outstanding IT businesses.
Chairman Son added that Korea has seen its per capita GDP grow as much as 3.7 times over the past 20 years while the comparable figures for Japan and the United States were 1.2 and 1.8 times, respectively. He attributed Korea’s sharp rise to bold and timely investments in high-speed internet networks.
The Chairman noted the importance of presenting a vision, adding that concrete policies and strategies can be dealt with by relevant officials but the president of a country has to provide a vision and set the direction.
The Chairman went on to say that artificial intelligence would bring about the greatest revolution in human history and emphasized the significance of AI. Noting that young entrepreneurs lack funds despite their passion and ideas, the Chairman said, for this reason, investments are necessary to help business unicorns emerge. He added that those startups that have received investments could increase their sales, help create job opportunities and evolve into globally recognized businesses.
Chairman Son said that the first, second and third thing that Korea needs to focus on going forward is AI and proposed an intensive nurturing of AI in such areas as education, policy, investment and budget planning.
In reply, President Moon said, “Conglomerates have sufficient capital for investments, but innovative startup founders face difficulties due to a lack of funds. I’d like to request that you invest in young people who start business ventures in particular.”
Moreover, President Moon said, “Korea’s domestic market is limited in size, and local businesses have to enter the global market. I ask you to help them advance into foreign markets by utilizing SoftBank’s global network.”
In addition, President Moon asked for Chairman Son’s interest in and support for nurturing AI professionals. In reply to the President’s three suggestions, the Chairman readily answered, “I will.”
Finally, President Moon once again requested investment in the local AI industry by saying, “Korea may be a late starter in the AI field but it also has many strengths. It has the world’s most advanced internet infrastructure and launched the first 5G commercial service. It’s by far ahead in commercializing existing concepts.”
In response, Chairman Son said that, as a latecomer to AI, Korea needs a bold strategy to catch up at once rather than a step-by-step approach. The Chairman stressed above all else the need for a strategy that focuses on utilizing AI.
Most of all, Chairman Son said he would try to facilitate global investment in Korea’s AI industry. The Chairman recommended that Korea invest in leading global companies, saying it would be the quickest way for Korea to become the No. 1 country in the AI field.