"We will make sure that all of the people will be inoculated free of charge in accordance with priorities," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday. This was the first time that the South Korean government announced a universal free-of-charge vaccination plan. He also made the first official apology for real estate issues.
“The end of a dark tunnel is seen, at long last,” said the president during his New Year’s address delivered on Tuesday morning. The healthcare authorities initially hinted at the possibility that those who are not priority groups for vaccination may have to pay for vaccines. It is estimated that approximately two trillion won is needed for a universal free vaccination.
“We are also reviewing the effectiveness and safety of a treatment developed by a South Korean firm,” Moon said, adding that all relevant procedures will be made public transparently. “The government will continue to encourage South Korea's own vaccine development as part of efforts for our vaccine sovereignty.”
“I offer my deep apology for those who are struggling with housing issues,” said President Moon regarding real estate policies. "Especially with a focus on expanding supply, we will swiftly map out various measures to have a quick effect.” This implies that the government will maintain the existing real estate policies, such as regulations on multi-homeowners and protection for tenants while focusing on housing supply expansion.
“We will do our best to make a last-ditch effort to pull off a great transition in the stalled North Korea-U.S. and inter-Korean dialogue,” the president said. "Our will to meet (with North Korea) anytime, anywhere, even in a non-face-to-face formula remains unchanged." While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un publicly rejected South Korea’s proposal for disease control cooperation at the eight Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea and said that the inter-Korean relations took steps backward before the Panmunjom Declaration, President Moon suggested free-form conversations again.
In contrast to the last year’s speech when he did not mention the North Korean nuclear issues at all, however, the president said that it is our duty to pass on a Korean Peninsula of peace without war and nuclear weapons to our descendants, calling for the resumption of denuclearization talks.
“His speech was irrelevant and ridiculous, without the end of the tunnel,” the main opposition People Power Party criticized the president’s speech. “The president needs to listen carefully to the voices of people,” said the party’s spokesperson Bae Jun-young. “It is time to step away from blind faith in the K-disease control myth and unrequited love for North Korea.”
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