President Moon Jae-in said during a meeting with senior presidential aides Monday that the nation “will not be able to overcome inequality without breaking the current system where only a few get opportunities and benefits at the sacrifice of the majority.” He added that we cannot expect a “fair and just country” if we fail to “correct unfairness that has allowed cheating, privilege, and law manipulation to prevail.” His remarks in the first formal meeting he presided over since his second inauguration anniversary reveal the liberal leader’s intention to maintain the existing framework of policies based on the so-called income-led growth and rooting out corruption.
It is largely because of the government’s policies disconnected from the reality that the country’s exports and investment have plunged amid the rapidly falling growth rates. Consequently, the creation of new jobs has slowed down and an income gap has widened, making ordinary citizens suffer even more. Yet, President Moon insists that the economic experiment, which has turned out to be a failure over the past two years, should be continued. Even external factors are not favorable this year due to the U.S.-China trade spat and the Brexit. The South Korean economy is likely to get in a bigger trouble unless the president thinks in a flexible manner based on the clear understanding of the reality.
It is also regretful that President Moon has a rigid attitude toward the inter-Korean relations. He said that we cannot settle peace and prosperity on the Korean Peninsula with the existing familiar structure of confrontation filled with conflicts and enmity. “We should get away with the old standard of ideology that politicizes the nation’s division.” Still, the Moon administration’s “peace process,” which led North Korea to the negotiating table with patience and dialogue, has reached a deadlock since the breakdown of the Hanoi summit. Even though there is an increasing need to pressure Pyongyang by closely coordinating with Washington, the president still characterizes such demands as something that should be abandoned, based on a dangerous dichotomous way of thinking.
Moreover, it is also problematic that he blamed the opposition bloc for conflicts within the National Assembly, which were prompted by a decision to fast-track several amendment bills to the Public Official Election Act and those regarding the reform of the prosecution. As the president himself pointed out, the dormancy of the parliament will only cause damage to the Korean people. A nation’s leader pointing the finger at the opposition parties and trying to place the blame under such circumstances will not do any good in addressing the nation’s pending issues. Rather, President Moon should demonstrate a will to work together, and if needed, review the main opposition Liberty Korea Party’s proposal to hold a one-on-one inter-party summit.
To achieve success in the remaining three years of his term, President Moon first needs to objectively accept the outcome of his policies over the past two years. A stubborn attitude, which refuses to acknowledge a single failure, will only lead to a bigger failure, making people’s everyday life an even more arduous struggle.