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‘Growth is the foundation to overcome polarization and conflicts,’ says Yoon

‘Growth is the foundation to overcome polarization and conflicts,’ says Yoon

Posted May. 14, 2024 07:53,   

Updated May. 14, 2024 07:53


“While May is called the queen of seasons, many people also say it is the most difficult month,” South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol emphasized during the 12th plenary session and the second performance briefing of the Presidential Committee of National Cohesion, a crucial platform for addressing societal issues, held at the presidential office in Yongsan-gu, Seoul on Monday.

“May is a month that often strains people’s finances. In response, we are committed to providing practical support by closely monitoring people’s lives,” the president assured. The presidential committee has unveiled a series of policies that are not just theoretical but are designed to make a real difference in the lives of the socially vulnerable. This includes a measure to repurpose shut-down school sites in urban centers into dormitories for college students, a practical solution to the housing issue.

“Growth is the most important foundation to overcome polarization and conflicts and unite people. As the Korean saying goes, "Generosity comes from a full storeroom." Similarly, the freedom and welfare people enjoy can only be significantly improved when national income increases and national finance improves,” President Yoon reiterated. “We are fully committed to protecting the socially vulnerable. We will diligently monitor the impact of government policies on people’s everyday lives, ensuring there are no unexpected side effects or mismatches with people’s needs.”

The performance briefing was attended by all 26 private sector members, including the chair of the Presidential Committee of National Cohesion, Kim Han-gil, and the head of the planning subcommittee, Lee Hae-seon. “Eight out of 10 people pointed political polarization as the most grievous conflict,” said the chair. “We have a task at hand to overcome regionalism, given the last general election results in which the east and west of South Korea were divided. Economic polarization is another task we cannot ignore.”

Measures proposed during the briefing encompass a wide range of areas. These include the establishment of internet-based banks specialized in serving small business owners, the expansion of a TV-based market for small business owners to boost their visibility, the conversion of shut-down school sites in urban centers into college dormitories to address housing issues, the introduction and expansion of a treatment model tailored to seniors' needs, and the expansion and institutionalization of continuous employment. The presidential committee has chosen ‘companion’ as the theme for this year, reflecting its commitment to fostering unity among all citizens, not just the socially vulnerable.

President Yoon is scheduled to have dinner with the new leadership of the People Power Party on Monday evening, following the briefing. The dinner will be attended by the head of the emergency response committee, Hwang Woo-yea; the party’s floor leader, Choo Kyung-ho; the head of the policy committee, Jeong Jeom-sig; and the members of the emergency response committee, Eom Tae-young, Yoo Sang-beom, Kim Yong-tae, and Jeon Joo-hye. The attendants are expected to discuss how to strengthen capabilities to address issues related to people’s lives through communication between the government and the party, as well as special prosecution laws and relevant measures requested by the opposition party.

Joo-Young Jeon aimhigh@donga.com