Fellow Koreans, citizens of Gumi, Governor Lee Cheol-woo, Mayor Jang Seyong and distinguished guests from home and abroad, I am glad to meet you all.
LG Chem, the city of Gumi and Gyeongsangbuk-do signed an MOU regarding investment to create new jobs. This agreement was reached among representatives of labor, management, the government, and civil society just six months after negotiations began.
The determination of the people of Gumi and Gyeongsangbuk-do to restore economic vitality has served as the greatest driver leading to this accomplishment in such a short time. LG Chem has made the bold decision to invest in line with its commitment to achieving mutual benefits with the region. The central and local governments have also come together with proactive support.
Japan’s ongoing restrictions of exports to Korea allow us to reaffirm our confidence in “doing it ourselves.” I am pleased to be able to bring good news to our people.
Notably, I wholeheartedly congratulate the Gumi National Industrial Complex that marks the 50th anniversary of its founding this year on having a renewed opportunity to surge ahead.
Gumi once led the advancement of the Republic of Korea’s industries and the country’s high-flying growth. This region has demonstrated its potential once again.
The history of Gumi is the history of the Republic of Korea’s industrialization. In 1975, only 11 years after Korea’s entire exports broke the US$100 million mark, Gumi achieved US$100 million in exports singlehandedly. Not far away from the Gumi City Hall is a monument named the “export industry tower,” reflecting the city’s pride in serving as a growth engine of the Korean economy.
Gumi is a story of prevailing during Korea’s economic hard times to advance. These episodes include the first and second oil shocks in the 1970s, the foreign exchange crisis that necessitated an IMF bailout in the late 1990s and the global financial crisis in the late 2000s.
We find ourselves today facing increased global economic uncertainty and more difficult economic conditions inside and outside the country as a result of Japan’s export restrictions, among other things. At this juncture, Gumi has presented a new breakthrough toward economic vitality with mutually beneficial job creation.
I express my respect to the residents of Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gumi for demonstrating their fully developed capabilities. I also deeply appreciate LG Chem, which decided to make bold investment in Korea by shifting its policy to go overseas. In addition, let me thank the members of labor and civil society, including Chairperson Kim Dong-ui of the Gumi chapter of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions, who worked so hard to coordinate various interests.
Citizens of Gumi,
In 1982, computers at the Gumi Institute of Electronics Technology and Seoul National University were linked via the internet. At a time when computers were not manufactured domestically, Korea became the world’s second, following the United States, to establish its own online connection, a feat that caught global attention.
Korea’s unsurpassed ICT sector began to flourish in the 2000s, but the seeds for that success can be said to have been sewn some 20 years earlier.
Daring imagination and creative application have driven our nation’s economic growth.
Like Korea’s development of the world’ second internet connection, this job creation program in Gumi is built upon the capability to think in new ways and then translate them into action.
In step with the job creation initiative in Gwangju, I expect that the Gumi job program will become yet another model of mutually beneficial job creation.
Hopefully, additional job programs of this type will also serve as new growth engines of our economy.
The job creation program in Gumi is the first of its kind to invest in new industries as a mutually beneficial job creation program. This unique approach
will help to usher in a renaissance in manufacturing in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The market for small, mid-sized and large rechargeable batteries is projected to see an average annual growth of at least 16 percent through 2025, and the growth in demand for related parts and materials is expected to average some 30 percent per year over the same period.
Since 2011, Korea has solidly remained at the top of world market for small rechargeable batteries and energy storage systems. However, the country’s market share for electronic vehicles and related materials market is still relatively low.
LG Chem decided to invest in new facilities to produce the anode material essential for leadership in the rechargeable battery market, which has emerged as a core sector in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. The company will invest 500 billion won in Sector 5 at the Gumi Nation Industrial Complex through 2024 to produce 60,000 tons of anode material annually.
As a nation, we now must lower our dependence on foreign suppliers for key materials. Thus, the agreement on the job creation initiative in Gumi will serve as an opportunity to help meet the expectations of those in the industrial community and the general public alike—all of whom want to see the country’s industrial competitiveness strengthen.
The agreement has also proven that combining compromise and concession among labor, management, the government, and civil society with government support make new investments in Korea attractive. This approach can
persuade domestic firms with technological competitiveness that have moved offshore to come back.
I look forward to seeing the job creation programs in Gumi and Gwangju set the stage for domestic companies that have relocated overseas to return and revitalize new investment.
Above all, let me heartily applaud Gumi’s presentation of a new, local area-led investment model that generates many quality jobs and helps the local community restore its economic vitality while making the most of its attributes.
As we all know, the electronics industry has been central to Gumi’s development. Gumi started with home appliances and expanded into semiconductors, mobile handsets and displays. However, it is also true that the city’s economic vigor has waned in recent years.
The agreement to promote mutually beneficial job creation in the region helped bring in a factory that produces materials needed for rechargeable batteries. These materials, in turn, are expected to see exponential growth in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Therefore, Gumi is now poised to experience a new growth surge. By attracting related industries and more investment, Gumi could grow into a hub for EV batteries.
This agreement will result in about 1,000 new jobs, either directly or indirectly. Mutually beneficial cooperation with local universities, including the introduction of majors specializing in rechargeable battery technology, will create decent jobs for talented young individuals in the area.
The Government will do all it can to ensure the success of the Gumi-type job creation model. We will step up efforts to improve local infrastructure to enhance the quality of life. This includes facilities for recreation, sports, childcare and social welfare, helping to induce a second or a third Gumi-type job creation model.
Fellow Koreans and Gumi citizens,
Five years ago, when the Gwangju-type job creation model was discussed, many expressed doubts over its feasibility. The bold concept was realized last January through a social agreement on “going together by making concessions little by little.” Since then, the wave of change is starting to spread throughout the country.
The effort for mutual prosperity that started in Gwangju has reached Miryang and Gumi. Now, mutually beneficial, regional job creation models are also being pursued in Jeollabuk-do, Gangwon-do, and elsewhere.
While the Gwangju model inspired mutually beneficial regional job creation, the Gumi model has made it a trend.
Mutually beneficial regional job creation is a way to vitalize local economies and boost domestic manufacturing. This is a way to move toward an innovative, inclusive nation where everyone prospers together. It is also a way for labor and management, primary- and sub-contractors, and companies and regions to thrive together.
We must pass an amendment to the Special Act on Balanced National Development in order to give greater impetus to mutually beneficial job creation by securing a legal framework and the legal basis for its support. I once again urge the National Assembly’s cooperation on this matter.
I, together with the people, congratulate the inception of the Gumi-type job creation model. May the Republic of Korea’s economy regain its vitality starting from Gumi.