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Expectations for new President Yoon Suk-yeol

Posted May. 10, 2022 07:58,   

Updated May. 10, 2022 07:58


The 20th president of Korea has taken office. President Yoon Suk-yeol kicked off his five-year term as he was signed in as president today. We congratulate on his inauguration. The slogan chosen for his inauguration is: “Again Republic of Korea: A New Country for the People.” We hope that he will display leadership in reinvigorating the national economy that has lost its steam, reunite the people rather dividing them, encouraging them to work together for a better future.

There are daunting political challenges he must tackle to achieve these goals, however. The nation is divided by those who voted for No. 1 and No. 2. Around half of the population is still skeptical about the new government. Polls show that support for the new president has never been lower. The Democratic Party, which holds a majority in the Parliament as the opposition party, is using that opportunity to gain power again.

It is President Yoon’s role to reunite the people to tackle challenges from home and abroad. It is up to the leadership of Yoon, depending on his philosophy and vision and whom he will work with to run the nation. Yoon has emphasized the importance of fairness, common sense, values of the constitution and free democracy. Such values should not be the basis for ideological confrontation, however. They should go together to serve national interests and practicality. Principles of fairness and practical flexibility may be at conflict at times but aiming to implement them together will ensure successful state operation. Yoon advocates conservative values. He needs to achieve gradual reform based on objective analysis rather than subjective passion. We need to remind ourselves that focusing on the failures of the former government will only indicate future failures.

The most imminent task at hand is economic matters. Above all, we need to focus on rebuilding growth potential of the economy. Korea’s long-term economic growth rate has been reduced by 1 percentage point every five years since the 1990s, and some even predict that it may fall into 0% range by the end of Yoon’s term. Another area of focus is rebuilding fiscal soundness, which has been severely damaged for the past five years. Public pension reform is also an inevitable area of reform that should not be overlooked, as the Moon Jae-in administration had done. It is also Yoon’s responsibility to show the right direction in international competition where Korea’s interests are at stake. There are many social conflicts - between gender, region, and social class.

We have a long way to go. Eventually most of the issues will be political ones. Yoon’s cabinet is still unfilled, but we should not take the blame on the opposition party. Only honest and sound leadership will convince the people. We need to build a foundation for integration so that liberals and conservatives are not at conflict but coexist for the better. A good way to do this might be to identify and understand the thinking behind centrist political values. There is a very fine line between earning the trust of the people and being publicly despised. It is time for Yoon, who may be a political novice, to display a new style of state leadership.