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[Reporter`s view]``People’s Well-being Is First…``

Posted May. 20, 2001 08:55,   


`Socialism could not be the solution to economy.`

Dr. Hang, professor at the Social Science Research Institute in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, explained the background of `Doi Moi` (reform) policy to the Korean press corps from the Unification ministry who visited Vietnam last week.

Dr. Hang emphasized that ‘although socialism was meant for the well-being of the people, it didn’t go well with economy. Vietnam could achieve economic development once it started to ensure the individual rights and creativity after giving up socialism’.

Ungyen Nia, principal of the Social Science Research Institute, said that `Vietnam ranked the second in the rice exports (5 million ton) after it adopted the market economy system.` He also said that `When Vietnam had socialist economy system, it had to import rice, even though 80 percent of the people engaged in agriculture.`

The vitality of Vietnam market economy is astonishing. According to the Korean consular officials, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Vietnam ran up to $ 600 per one person last year from $ 347 in 1999.

Looking around Vietnam reminded of North Korea, which is going through extreme economic hardship. Of course, it is difficult to compare Vietnam with North Korea. Unlike North Korea, Vietnam adopted market economy system after achieving unification. Natural resources are abundant in Vietnam. On the contrary, North Korea thinks that opening to the market economy itself is dangerous to the North Korean social structure.

Kim Jong-Il, North Korea’s National Defense Commission Chairman, went on an observation trip to Shanghai, China, last January. North Korea seems to seek for change, as it recently formed friendly relationships with EU countries. In this sense, Vietnam or China, which experienced both socialist and market economy system, can be a role model for North Korea.

Lun Bigho, principal at the Investment and Planning Department in Vietnam, said that `whether socialism or capitalism, it should exist for people’s well-being.` This remark seems what North Korean leaders should take into consideration.

Kim Young-Sik spear@donga.com