I am very glad to see the new leadership of our ruling party. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to Chairperson Song Young-gil, Floor Leader Yun Ho-jung and other Supreme Council members on your elections as the party’s new leaders. Your shoulders are surely burdened by the heavy responsibility of leading the party in this time of profound difficulties.
The Government and ruling party have new lineups and are now able to get off to a fresh start with one year left in my term. The party has been reorganized, and the new Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers have been appointed. At this difficult and crucial juncture for the country, I hope this occasion will be an opportunity for the Government and ruling party to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and pool our strength with an extraordinary and renewed commitment to administer state affairs and prepare for the future.
While working on the special address to mark four years in office, I wondered if I should say my term has passed the four-year mark or my term will end in one year. I felt the remaining year is more important than any part of the past four years. I also thought that the people would prefer to hear what should be done presently and in the future rather than what has been achieved in the past. My intention was to tell them what specifically my Administration will do during the remaining year and how we should prepare for the future.
The COVID-19 crisis has yet to end, and the nation still faces a grave situation. The economy is recovering at a fast pace, but people’s lives are still difficult. They have not yet returned to normal daily routines, nor has the employment situation recovered to its pre-COVID-19 state. Gaps and inequalities widened further by COVID-19 have added even greater pain, and there are still many people suffering as a result. For these reasons, the remaining one year is all the more important. We have to overcome the crisis, revive the economy and also address inequalities.
Moreover, any opportunity to leap forward as a pacesetting nation must be seized, and if the opportunity arises, we must also strive to build an unshakable peace on the Korean Peninsula. In addition, we must play an important part in addressing such global challenges as responding to infectious diseases and climate change.
Most of all, I believe that we have to be competent. Having learned a bitter lesson from our defeat in the by-elections, the Government and ruling party must demonstrate competence, starting with looking after the most painful and difficult matters that people face. There are many tasks related to people’s livelihoods – issues surrounding jobs, real estate and inequality – which the ruling party, the Government and the Office of the President must address together. Moreover, these are the kind of issues that must be solved. I believe that the Government and ruling party must also demonstrate competence when establishing the foundation for our leap forward as a pacesetting nation, including the Korean New Deal and carbon neutrality. In particular, I hope that we will be able to prove our ability to stay ahead of changes and prepare accordingly in this period of great transformation in which the economy and society are qualitatively evolving.
I believe that competence comes from unity. That is not to say that we should have the same opinion in all matters. Rather – even when various opinions are being expressed – I think it is possible to give people hope if we consistently use in-depth communication to steer opinions in the same direction so they can eventually coalesce into one force.
Toward the end of a term, the Government and the ruling party often grow apart a little. All parties also have a history of starting to divide as competition heats up ahead of elections. I hope that we can write a new chapter in our party’s history. I ask the new leadership to unite our party harmoniously. Moreover, with that strength, I would like us to be able to give the people hope for the present and the future through closer communication and cooperation among the ruling party, the Government and Cheong Wa Dae.
This opportunity does not come along often, so I believe that you have a lot to say. I will use today’s meeting as a chance to listen. I hope you’ll feel free to say what’s on your mind.