We are fighting an endless war against a virus. However, our people know how to keep the enemy from winning. The safety rules that they practice in their daily lives are the best vaccine against the virus.
Korea is overcoming the COVID-19 crisis in an exemplary manner. We have successfully implemented efficient infectious disease prevention and control without closing any borders or stopping the economy. While COVID-19 is once again spreading worldwide, Korea has largely managed to keep its daily new cases within a range of 20 to 30.
Korea’s response to COVID-19 has become a global model. Thanks to our success, we have minimized the economic impact caused by the pandemic and come to gain the confidence that we can achieve the world’s quickest economic turnaround. I express my deepest gratitude and respect to our great people.
Korea is not the country it once was; it should no longer be seen as a fast follower. With a sense of pride that we are already an advanced country, we have also gained the self-assurance to become a global leader. The international stature of the Republic of Korea has risen tremendously as well.
Nonetheless, we should not be overoptimistic about the future. Humanity is facing an immense, unprecedented challenge. The virus has toppled the economy and completely changed people’s daily lives. Global supply chains are being reconfigured, and a new international order is being demanded. Ever since COVID-19 appeared, the world has been experiencing fundamental transformations. We have to proactively cope with these enormous changes. If we lag behind them, we will forever fall back as a second-tier nation.
Beyond surmounting the COVID-19 crisis, the Government intends to seize this epochal global transformation as an opportunity to leap forward once again with the power of the people. If change cannot be avoided, we will actively take the initiative in making that change. Korea will lead the world in opening a new path to the future.
Today, the Government is unveiling a bold initiative and the plans for the Korean New Deal as a promise to usher in the future of a new Republic of Korea.
The Korean New Deal is a declaration of the Republic of Korea’s great transition into a leading nation. It is the Government’s strong commitment to fundamentally transform the Republic of Korea – from a fast follower-type economy into a pace-setting one; from a carbon-dependent economy into a low-carbon one; and from an unequal society into an inclusive one.
The Korean New Deal will set the foundation for Korea’s next 100 years. We have performed very well so far. We have achieved astounding accelerated growth, rising above colonial rule, national division and war.
However, the past growth model has now reached its limit, leaving a dark shadow of inequality. The post-COVID-19 era is further hastening our steps along that path toward another 100 years. Creating a pace-setting economy, responding proactively to climate change and shifting monumentally toward an inclusive society are tasks of the times for the future of the Republic of Korea. We can neither hesitate nor delay them any longer.
This path is not exclusively reserved for the Republic of Korea. It is an unavoidable trend of the times that the entire world must follow together. The Fourth Industrial Revolution and a digital civilization have already commenced and are defining the future of humanity. The Korean New Deal is a national development strategy designed to stay ahead of those vigorous trends. Building upon robust employment and social safety nets, we will establish two pillars – the Digital New Deal and the Green New Deal. Through these, we will move closer to becoming a leading nation at the forefront of this historic global transformation.
We already have the world’s leading competitive edge in the digital sector. Adding our digital capabilities to industries across the board can help transform our economy from a fast-follower into a pace-setter. This is the goal of the Digital New Deal. A contact-free digital world has already taken deep root in our lives, and an era of remote access in education and healthcare is coming. A society has arrived where data holds a competitive edge, and new industries combining artificial intelligence with networks are becoming future growth engines and treasure troves of forward-looking jobs.
Equipped with unmatched ICT competitiveness and being the world’s top semiconductor manufacturer, Korea has the technology and capabilities to spearhead the digital revolution. Enthusiasm for innovative startups is already creating a dynamic economy. With bolder and forward-looking investments, we will strongly push digitalization in all areas of our lives, including the social, economic, educational, industrial and medical. In this manner, we will march toward becoming the No. 1 digital country, the global leader.
The Green New Deal is about responding preemptively to the climate crisis, a desperate reality already confronting us. The COVID-19 pandemic has reaffirmed the urgency of responding to climate change. Amid a consensus that climate change responses are also indispensable for preventing infectious diseases, advanced countries in Europe and elsewhere have already been pushing a Green New Deal as a key task. On the whole, our country lags behind in this area, but we also have strengths. This is because the green revolution, too, should be built upon our strong suit: digital technology. When Korea – which has received global acclaim for its COVID-19 response – strives to foster its Green New Deal, we will be able to lead a new global order of solidarity and cooperation to resolve the climate crisis.
A low-carbon economy is also a global trend. The Green New Deal will not only help improve the quality of our lives by addressing the fine dust and other issues, but also enhance our industrial competitiveness in the face of ever-tightening international environmental regulations. In addition, it will help create a significant number of jobs through the growth of green industries.
Eliminating inequality and transitioning into an inclusive society are prerequisites for the Republic of Korea’s great transformation. The COVID-19 crisis is making our social safety nets’ weaknesses more pronounced. The vulnerable have been the first hit, and new forms of labor and jobs – freelancers and platform workers – are under immense threat.
The Korean New Deal is the Republic of Korea’s new social contract. Even in the face of a crisis, no one should be left behind, and everyone should be able to prosper together. We overcame the past foreign exchange and global financial crises well but suffered the aftermaths of polarization and employment instability. We will shatter the old formula where a crisis deepens inequality. We will take this COVID-19 crisis as an opportunity to strengthen the social safety net and reduce inequality.
The Government will take the lead. We will strengthen the employment and social safety nets and actively expand investment in people. For sustainable development and a people-centered digital economy that leaves no one behind, I hope that such principal agents of the economy as labor, management and the Government will join hands to surmount crises, make concessions and compromises and move together toward a future of mutual benefit.
The Government’s role has become even bigger and its responsibility heavier. We will expand fiscal spending and boldly invest for the future and take the lead to actively create new jobs. Our national capabilities will be focused on reducing inequality and expanding safety nets. We will forcefully fulfill the Government’s role and responsibilities by making the Korean New Deal a national development strategy. This will be followed by intensive investment in representative projects – large-scale national undertakings that can change our economy, society and people’s lives.
The Government has selected ten projects to represent the Korean New Deal in the areas of the Digital New Deal and Green New Deal. These ten representative projects – a data dam, AI government, smart medical infrastructure, green remodeling, green energy, eco-friendly future mobility, green smart schools, digital twins, social overhead capital digitalization and smart green industrial complexes – will lead the Republic of Korea’s great transition. The people will be able to witness changes with their own eyes during our Administration’s term.
The Korean New Deal places special emphasis on expanding safety nets and investing in people. Along with the efforts to gradually expand the employment safety net for the entire public, we will completely abolish the family support obligation criteria by 2022. We will introduce accident and sickness benefits on a trial basis, so workers can call in sick when ill. By expanding investments in people, we will strengthen vocational training systems and cultivate talented individuals in line with socioeconomic changes. We will strongly push ahead with digital inclusiveness policies to reduce the digital divide.
The Government promises unprecedented investment in the Korean New Deal. It will directly invest 114 trillion won from the national treasury by 2025. Together with the private sector and local governments, we will inject around 160 trillion won. By 2022, the final year of our Administration, we will invest a total of 68 trillion won, including 49 trillion won from the treasury. This will bring tangible changes. Some 890,000 new jobs will be created by 2022 and 1.9 million by 2025. I hope that the Korean New Deal will serve as a new opportunity for people in need of jobs.
The Korean New Deal will continuously evolve. It will permeate into local areas and the private sector, thereby creating a more dynamic Republic of Korea. It will extend from our Administration to the next and continue to develop at the forefront of global changes. The comprehensive Korean New Deal announced today marks the beginning of the Republic of Korea’s great transition. It is the point where Korea begins to leap toward becoming a leading nation.
Beginning is half of the process. I ask you all to join forces for the success of the Korean New Deal. Let us usher in the future of the Republic of Korea, a leading nation.