By Lee Hana
President Moon Jae-in, in his new year's address on Jan. 7 delivered at Cheong Wa Dae, outlined the keywords for the country in 2020: inclusiveness, innovation, fairness and peace.
The president thanked the people for helping his administration last year to lay down a sturdy foundation for a nation where everyone can prosper and that supports innovative and inclusive growth. He also pledged to implement more policies to bring real change in 2020.
Highlighting inclusiveness, the president said the country last year created a record-high 280,000 jobs and reduced the wage gap between large and medium-size businesses, adding that this trend would continue into the new year.
The inclusive policies outlined by the president included providing comprehensive and customized services for early retirees and job seekers; regulatory innovation and expansion of investment incentives; parental leave for both parents at the same time; monetary assistance to marginalized workers including women, recent grads and the elderly; and strengthening of the employment safety net and guaranteed medical insurance.
Turning to the economy, he said, "Despite the U.S.-China trade dispute and the global economic downturn, Korea last year ranked seventh in the world in exports and maintained trade volume of USD 1 trillion for the third consecutive year and a trade surplus for 11 straight years."
"This year, we will further increase our exports and innovate our export sector to ensure that Korea joins the ranks of the world's top four exporters by 2030."
Furthermore, the president pledged to expand exports in high value-added sectors such as next-generation industries, 5G and the manufacturing of rechargeable batteries. He also said markets would be expanded into new territories in the New Southern and New Northern regions, while export financing for mid-size companies would be quadrupled.
Exports of so-called K-brands related to Hallyu will be expanded as well, he added.
Stressing the importance of creating a fair society, the president said, "Only when there is fairness can there be innovation and inclusiveness in our economy. That said, I will actively push for legal reform that supports a fair economy."
Shifting to peace on the Korean Peninsula, he said the road to peace is one that the nation must take "despite any and all hardships." In saying this, the president invited North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, whose official title is chairman of the State Affairs Commission, to visit South Korea, a first since the Pyeongyang Declaration was announced in September 2018.
"Stopping war, ensuring mutual safety and striving for joint prosperity are the main pillars of achieving peace on the Korean Peninsula and need the support of the international community. These are, however, things that can be done through cooperation between the two Koreas. I ask that both sides come together and hold a deep discussion on the matters at hand," he said.
"This year marks the 20th anniversary of the June 15 North-South Joint Declaration, making it a meaningful year. In addition to numerous joint events on the table, I hope that the two (Koreas) make efforts to make it possible for Chairman Kim to visit us as soon as possible."