Go to contents

[Opinion] The Lost Decade

Posted June. 12, 2007 04:50,   


During the Second World War, the U.K. suffered huge material and human losses. Its national debt ballooned 10-fold. With the loss of the nation’s ships as much as 40 percent, the U.K. also lost its competitiveness in international trade. Because of the war, the U.S. became rich while the U.K. lost its position as a superpower. Therefore, the 10 years from 1945 to 1955 was called “the lost decade” there. In the 1980s, most of the news from Latin America was about debt crisis, stagflation, and riots. Even the calorie intake of people was on the decline.

Japan’s lost decade in the 1990s is also famous. It was a prolonged recession caused by the bubble bursting in the real estate market. However, Japan managed to achieve economic recovery through financial reforms, and it is now greeting a “golden decade.” Rosy prospects for the future is making the past beautiful. Now Japan’s lost decade is referred to as “a decade for preparation.” In order to boost the economy, Japan has made painstaking efforts through tax cuts, regulatory reforms, and facility investments. It would be fair to say that the nation has prepared for the future over the last 10 years.

Korea is now in a heated debate over the lost decade. Last August, former Uri Party chairman Kim Geun-tae said, “People think that democratic reformists have been incompetent in managing the economy,” using the expression “the lost decade.” Members of the Grand National Party also frequently use this expression when criticizing the administration for its failure in running the country. However, people in the administration say that the economy has successfully recovered from the financial crisis and is rather sound. Politicians are divided along the party line, so it is very difficult for them to come up with a viable solution to the current problems.

Many experts at home and abroad agree that the Korean economy has not found a new growth engine, and it is losing its growth potential. Since the launch of this administration, the economic growth rate has always been below the world average. It is very difficult to find hope in a society where companies are ceasing investments, and many young people are unable to get a job. We would not be able to find a solution to current issues by hiding problems and “not preparing for the future.”

Hong Kwon-hee, Editorial writer, konihong@donga.com