Good afternoon, everyone.
The ceremony to mark completion of the Gwangju Global Motors plant is finally being held today. Looking back at the time and effort spent on this project so far, the citizens of Gwangju must truly be overwhelmed and bursting with pride. This finished vehicle assembly plant will create the Gwangju-type jobs that this region desperately needs. Test production and quality verification have already begun at the plant, and mass-production will start in September. Born out of a grand social compromise among Gwangju citizens, local government, labor and management, this plant is the future of Gwangju and the Republic of Korea. As Gwangju Global Motors grows, Gwangju’s dream of becoming a prosperity-sharing society will grow even larger.
I extend heartfelt congratulations and gratitude to everyone who came together and provided support, especially the citizens of Gwangju. Without your spirit of mutual benefit, today’s meaningful ceremony would not have been possible.
Gwangju-type jobs, the first platform for the Republic of Korea’s mutually beneficial local jobs, constitute a challenge taken on to strike a new balance in our economy. This is an attempt to build an economy in which workers and businesses can grow together by creating new jobs with labor and management cooperating and upholding the value of people and labor. It is an effort aimed at enhancing the vitality of local economies and ushering in a new era for balanced national development. After a long and winding journey, we have finally arrived at the first destination. All of this is attributable to labor, management, civic groups and local government working their hardest to deliver on a promise to make a mutually beneficial jobs model.
Hyundai Motor Company and the City of Gwangju have worked together while making joint investments. Workers – as self-assured stakeholders – and management formed a mutually beneficial consultative council and put their heads together to devise ways to raise productivity. Every time they faced difficult problems and critical junctures, Mayor Lee Yong-seop and the city government of Gwangju actively came forward to mediate differences. Now a relationship of solid trust has been established. More than anything else, the unwavering support and encouragement from Gwangju citizens have been a source of great strength. Gwangju, the city of light and democracy, has now gained another title – a city of mutual benefit.
Gwangju Global Motors has built the first finished vehicle assembly plant in Korea in over 23 years. It has proven that making small mutual concessions and joining forces can help businesses heading abroad turn back and create as many decent jobs as desired. Most of all, I am grateful that it has brought hope to local young people who are desperate for even one additional job. More than 70 percent of the 385 employees hired so far are people in their 20s and 30s from Gwangju and Jeollanam-do Province. Next year, the number of employees will exceed 900, which means more jobs will be available. All of them will be secure and full-time jobs. The company will give more opportunities and hope to young people in the region as it grows while maintaining an appropriate wage level set by social consensus.
The working environment has also been designed in a manner conducive to maintaining corporate competitiveness at the highest level while respecting labor rights. The plant is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities such as wearable robots that can help increase labor efficiency while protecting workers. Production efficiency will also be optimized through smart factory systems that utilize artificial intelligence.
It will be an opportunity for the local economy to take a new leap forward. One fully built vehicle requires at least 20,000 parts. If output increases to 70,000 a year, it will spur the growth of numerous local companies. In addition to the 900 employed directly, more than 11,000 will be hired indirectly, increasing local residents’ income and revitalizing small businesses in residential neighborhoods.
Korea has just emerged as one of the world’s five largest automobile producing countries and is now seizing a great opportunity to lead the era of future cars that are powered by electricity and hydrogen. That is to say, Gwangju Global Motors’ growth potential is wide open. The production lines can be flexibly adjusted to meet varying conditions, and plots of land to expand the plant further have also been secured. If the plant broadens its reach to include eco-friendly and autonomous cars in connection with fostering future car clusters –Gwangju City’s current focus – it will be able to spearhead innovative growth for the local economy.
Gwangju-type jobs have become an exemplary model for mutually beneficial local jobs and are bringing about new changes across the Republic of Korea. Mutually beneficial local jobs programs have spread to Miryang, Daegu, Gumi, Hoengseong, Gunsan, Busan and Sinan. Furthermore, they are expected to attract a total investment of 51 trillion won and create 130,000 new jobs. Even at this moment, efforts to identify a new mutually beneficial local jobs model are continuing throughout the country, and some localities are aiming to sign MOUs this year.
The spirit of Gwangju-type jobs has also led to the Regionally Balanced New Deal. Various attempts are being sought, from businesses and residents sharing profits to pan-regional cooperation that transcends administrative boundaries. Now, the Republic of Korea will steadfastly continue to move forward toward an innovative and inclusive nation that soars higher together with the confidence gained through the success of Gwangju-type jobs.
The Government will also actively provide backing. By offering a variety of support, we will develop mutually beneficial local jobs as another success strategy for our economy. In particular, if local areas present creative job projects through social consensus, the Government will work to actively devise customized support plans.
Young workers from Gwangju Global Motors are with us here today. I ask labor, management, civic organizations and local governments to continue to join forces for the bright and hopeful future of our young people. The vision of Gwangju is the dream of the Republic of Korea. We will continue to cheer on Gwangju as it takes on challenges, using mutual benefit to innovate and leap forward.