Mayors and provincial governors, I am glad to meet you all.
A year has passed since Korea’s seventh election of local government leaders. Today also marks my fifth meeting with mayors and governors, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your dedicated efforts to promote grassroots democracy and create innovative models for your local economies and public welfare.
The development of provincial regions is synonymous with national advancement. The Central Government continues to share substantial administrative and financial authority with local governments to elevate their autonomy. Moreover, we in the Central Government will always work with you to help promote achievements at the local level nationwide.
Recent trade tensions between the United States and China as well as Japan’s restrictions on exports to Korea pose new challenges for our flagship industries. We now face a grave situation that we must address by joining forces.
The path we must pursue going forward, no matter how difficult, is to localize parts and materials production and diversify import sources. We should also strive to be first in responding to changes in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Local governments play a crucial role as partners in running state affairs. Bold transformation and innovation are necessary as we head into the future. They also urgently need to test new business models in a forward-looking manner and be inventive in taking on new challenges—things that the Central Government is not sufficiently responsive to do.
Our objective is to be at the forefront of innovative growth. To this end, we must create an environment in which new technologies can be developed and utilized here in Korea first.
The special regulation-free zones to be announced today will only bring results when they are supported by the determined efforts of local governments to find more innovative ways to do things. I hope today’s event serves as an opportunity for the central and local governments to renew their commitment to deregulation and innovative growth.
Regulatory streamlining was a matter of choice when we were industrializing. However, deregulation is a matter of survival in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, marked by the convergence of industries and provincial areas.
My Administration has made the reduction of legal red tape a top priority in governance, and we have approached the Fourth Industrial Revolution proactively, cheering on businesses that are willing to take on new challenges.
The “regulatory sandbox” system that Korea put into effect this past January is unmatched in terms of the scope and speed of dealing with regulations. Special exemptions are offered for testing the safety of new products and services. Regulatory obstacles are being minimized through proactive interpretation of laws and regulations, while provisional authorization facilitates the early release of new products in the marketplace.
With respect to newly established regulations, government permission is granted in principle, while prohibitions are exceptionally imposed. We have also shifted the responsibility for proving the necessity of existing regulations to government officials. We encourage civil servants to take the initiative in their administrative duties, helping improve their work habits.
However, the people and businesses are demanding even bolder deregulation.
Businesses are complaining that regulatory obstacles still make it difficult for them to adopt new technologies. Some have given up on domestic markets and relocated overseas because Korea’s regulatory barriers prevent them from entering new industries.
To reach the tipping point in innovation where the people and businesses can feel “it’s good enough,” we need even more changes in front-office administration together with improvements in regulations that carry great symbolic importance.
This past April, the Central Government introduced a special regulation-free zone program on top of the regulatory sandbox. Today, the first seven provinces and autonomous cities have been designated as such.
The special regulation-free zones will help spur innovative growth, which in turn will foster further development in local areas by enabling new technologies to be commercialized after a demonstration process while eliminating red tape through the regulatory sandbox. I hope that businesses will be able to enjoy robust innovative growth, thereby sensing the substantive benefits of our recent regulatory improvements.
Among other things, unprecedented new services will be made available in the healthcare and blockchain sectors.
Gangwon-do has been designated as a special digital healthcare zone, and primary care physicians in the province may now monitor patients remotely, as well as examine them and write prescriptions via telemedicine networks in cooperation with the nurses who visit the patients. Initially this service is to be provided only for patients suffering from specific chronic diseases such as hypertension and diabetes. However, we have finally taken the first step toward telemedicine, and we will build upon our success to embrace telemedicine more widely, thereby significantly increasing primary-care facility utilization and lowering medical costs for the elderly.
As the special blockchain zone, Busan will utilize the data forgery/falsification-proof blockchain technology in the tourism, finance and logistics sectors. If the technology to protect personal information is proven effective, Korea can be at the forefront in blockchain technology application. Combined with the existing financial infrastructure in local areas, this technology will be of immense help to revitalizing the local economy.
Various projects for technology demonstrations will be pursued to pioneer new markets.
Daegu has been designated as a special smart-wellness zone, and tests will be conducted there on utilizing collagen in human body to create artificial skin to treat burn victims. Jeollanam-do, the special e-mobility zone, will conduct demonstrations of compact electric vehicles, electric bicycles and kick scooters. A demonstration of autonomous bus operations will be conducted in Sejong City.
New technology standards have been formulated in consideration of the environment and public safety.
In Gyeongsangbuk-do, old EV batteries will be recycled to make electric bicycles and other “applied products,” and Chungcheongbuk-do plans to introduce a unique smart safety control system that will set the world’s first remote shutoff/control technology standards for gas appliances.
The special regulation-free zones are now in their beginning stages. To further speed up regulatory innovations, we must improve the way we carry out them.
Our competitors are in the global market. We must come up with bolder measures for deregulation and support to bring back domestic firms that have moved overseas as well as attract foreign investments and outstanding foreign businesses.
I urge you all to focus on follow-up measures to ensure that new technologies substantiated in local areas are swiftly released as products and services in the domestic and global markets.
I hope those local governments that were not selected as special regulation-free zones this time will work closely with the relevant Central Government ministries and agencies so that they will be chosen early in the next round.
Duty-free shops were long confined to airport departure areas, where customs control is easy. Recently, they were also opened in the arrival areas of Incheon International Airport, enabling travelers to avoid having to carry goods purchased at the time of their departure throughout their trip.
This is a best practice of a regulatory enhancement carried out from the public’s perspective. True regulatory innovations are those that help improve people’s lives, and such changes in our thinking mark the beginning of a better regulatory environment. Let’s work harder together to improve the people’s lives.