Let me begin the 26th Cabinet Meeting.
My recent overseas trip last week served as an opportunity to reaffirm the enhanced status and prestige of the Republic of Korea. Despite geopolitical difficulties and painful chapters in modern and contemporary history, our people have never become discouraged or despondent. Instead, they have helped achieve remarkable economic growth and simultaneously advanced democracy, making Korea a country that is respected globally. The dynamism and creativity of our people and businesses have powered innovation, spearheading phenomenal development in a wide range of areas, including cutting-edge industries, science and technology as well as culture and the arts. Among the post-World War II newly independent countries – thanks to the united efforts of all our people – the Republic of Korea has become the only one to successfully join the ranks of the advanced nations. Our great people have made this achievement.
The Republic of Korea is continuing its march forward. Turning crises into opportunities, the country is unceasingly taking on challenges and opening up the future. We are envisioning our emergence from a fast-follower to a pacesetting country. Being an exemplary nation for epidemic prevention and control, Korea’s response to COVID-19 has become an international standard. Amid the global economic downturn, the Korean economy is making the world’s fastest recovery, demonstrating its strength to the fullest.
We are solidifying our status as a manufacturing powerhouse and further strengthening our global competitiveness in such key future industries as semiconductors, batteries, biohealth and hydrogen-fueled cars. Our country’s globally unrivalled IT prowess and digital capabilities are serving as steppingstones for the country’s emergence as a pacesetter in the economic, social, cultural and various other sectors. Our country’s culture and arts are fascinating many people across the globe with their outstanding empathy-evoking features, and K-brand is becoming globally recognized.
When it comes to responding to climate change – humanity’s common task – our country’s role is also growing. We are not only joining international efforts to achieve carbon neutrality but also further strengthening our role as a bridging country that connects advanced and developing nations.
As confirmed at the recent G7 Summit, the heads of major advanced countries uniformly praised our country’s achievements in regard to epidemic prevention and control, the economy and pending global issues such as climate change. Whether I was at a multi- or bilateral summit, I could sense that our standing has unmistakably risen. The Republic of Korea will play a pivotal role in discussing and resolving important issues facing the international community in cooperation with other advanced countries.
In fact, many countries hope to partner with Korea and our companies in various fields. The Government will continue its efforts to raise the level of cooperation with every country and expand our diplomatic horizons. We will enhance our responsibility and role in the international community to match our elevated national status and prestige.
Meanwhile, it is time to reflect on ourselves. We still have many shortcomings and numerous challenges to address. There are also many areas where Korea lags far behind global standards. At times, Korea is considered an advanced country, but at other times it has yet to break away from being underdeveloped. In areas where we are still at the bottom or below average globally, the relevant ministries and agencies must conduct special reviews and take countermeasures. Moreover, while every country must tackle COVID-19-exacerbated inequality and achieve an inclusive recovery, these tasks are all the more urgent for us. I ask you to further accelerate the implementation of the Korean New Deal.
Only when each and every individual can actually sense the rapid national economic recovery and our elevated international status can we collectively have hope and feel proud. I urge the Government to do all it can to actively utilize our national progress for diplomatic and economic cooperation while making sure that all of our citizens’ standard of living actually improves.