There is no tomorrow without today. The first and also second most important thing is overcoming this national crisis. Only when we protect the people’s lives and revive the economy will we then have our next opportunity. I believe that the will of the people – manifested through the recent general election –
is to pool our strengths to surmount the national crisis.
Humanity is now fighting a world war against a novel virus. The loss of lives and socioeconomic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic are so colossal and harsh that it can be referred to as World War III. Precious lives are being sacrificed in many countries around the world with more than 160,000 fatalities already. The world economy is sliding into the worst recession since the Great Depression.
We are at the forefront of this war. We will win by all means and create hope. We are a people who have never lost to any crisis. This time again, we will be the country that overcomes the crisis the fastest and the leading nation for turning this crisis into opportunities and the first to usher in new hope. We will have confidence in our people and take a bold step forward, keeping in mind the determination of those who have channeled their full strength into surmounting the national crisis.
Starting with our infectious disease prevention and control measures, we will become a nation that provides the world a beacon of hope. The Government will mobilize capabilities nationwide and win the war against the virus in the most rapid and exemplary manner. This goal could become feasible and realistic thanks to the people’s voluntary participation and the dedication of medical professionals.
At a time when our transparency-, openness- and democracy-based infectious disease prevention and control is becoming a global standard, we are entering a marked stabilization phase with the number of daily new confirmed cases having fallen into single digits. However, it’s still too early to be complacent, given the global situation. We will maintain our basic infectious disease prevention and control stance until it is determined that we can fully control COVID-19.
We’ve decided to extend the social distancing period while easing some restrictions, so the day of complete eradication can come as quickly as possible. In this regard, I request the people’s understanding. I ask our people to endure a little more despite the inconveniences and join forces.
In the economic realm as well, we will become a country that demonstrates to the whole world its potential to overcome this crisis. We will make sure that our infectious disease prevention and control achievements spur the economy and hasten our economic recovery through preemptive and bold policies. As the economic crisis goes into full swing, negative growth is expected this year, and employment shocks are becoming a reality, putting many people at risk of losing their jobs. However, if we join forces through solidarity and cooperation just as we’ve done with infectious disease prevention and control, our country can become the quickest to overcome the crisis successfully while minimizing the damage to the economy as well.
The International Monetary Fund predicted negative growth for our economy this year, but it added that Korea would register the highest growth rate among the 36 OECD member countries. This shows the IMF’s high regard for our successes with infectious disease prevention and control and our bold efforts to respond to the economic downturn.
The trend must be continued. I call upon you to strengthen the Government’s emergency economic response system and prepare for the central economic response headquarters’ full-fledged operation with the Deputy Prime Minister for economic affairs playing the key role and all economy-related ministries and agencies participating. I urge you to establish as soon as possible a system to overcome the crisis that concentrates pan-government capabilities on managing the crisis, protecting jobs and providing relief for businesses until this economic emergency is over.
The Government will not stick to past solutions when laying out measures to overcome the economic difficulties. As we have done with infectious disease prevention and control efforts, we will use creative thinking and extraordinary countermeasures to lessen the suffering of the people and reduce time required to overcome the crisis. Korea’s COVID-19 response to its post-COVID-19 economic revival model, Korea will set a global standard for surmounting the crisis. We will weather this difficult situation by putting faith in our great people, who have in their DNA the ability to overcome a crisis.
I would like to make a request to politicians, too. It is only the people, not a virus, that we should fear. I also ask the ruling party to uphold the people’s stern mandate, determined to accept indefinite responsibility along with the Government, and concentrate all their capabilities on surmounting the national crisis.
The last duties of the soon-to-end 20th National Assembly and our mindset when preparing for the 21st Assembly must also be focused on pooling our strengths to overcome the national crisis. I call upon the opposition parties to work together to surmount the national crisis while competing through wisdom and abilities. The Government will always listen attentively to the opposition parties’ opinions.