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2023 New Year Address to Nation by President Yoon Suk Yeol

President Yoon giving his 2023 New Year address
Image credit: President’s website

From the presidential website:

My beloved fellow Koreans, overseas compatriots,

The hope-filled New Year 2023 has dawned. I wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Last year, we faced difficulties at home and abroad amid uncertainty in a complex global economic crisis, but we were able to overcome those challenges thanks to our people’s hard work and determination.

Countries around the world have relied on high interest rates to counter runaway raw material prices and inflation caused by global supply chain disruptions.

The possibility of the world economy slipping into a recession this year is higher than ever before.

Since the fallout from the global downturn could slow our real economy, we have to monitor this grave economic situation closely.

We will employ preemptive measures to keep the inevitable interest rate hikes to curb inflation from placing excessive borrowing costs on households and businesses.

Exports are our key to overcoming this complex crisis. They form the basis of our economy and create jobs.

However, with the World Trade Organization being undermined and protectionism escalating, we are seeing the bundling of security, economic and technology cooperation policies.

Our export strategy must differ from the past.

Those countries that share the universal values of freedom, human rights and the rule of law are banding together through their economies and industries. This solidarity based on these universal values is the most strategic choice in the current diplomatic landscape.

I will personally attend to our export strategy while focusing all diplomatic efforts on the economy.

A project to help our businesses receive a total of US$50 billion in overseas orders will be put into operation. Infrastructure construction, nuclear power plants and the defense industry will be fostered as new export engines.

Trade finance will be increased to 360 trillion won, an all-time high. We will mobilize all policy capabilities to expand the reach of the Republic of Korea’s exports to every part of the world.

World history has taught us that – when crises and challenges engulf the global economy – those countries that identify new technologies and industries through innovation are the ones able to create quality jobs and achieve sustainable growth.

We will provide all the support possible, so our future generations – equipped with entrepreneurship – will be able to take on challenges in new technologies and industries and achieve the outcomes desired.

We will usher in the “Startup Korea” era, not only in the IT, bio, defense and nuclear power industries but also in carbon neutrality and entertainment.

Investments in future strategic technology will also be made in a preemptive and bold manner.

Starting with the successful launch of the Nuri space rocket this past June, we have ushered in the era of the space economy, opening up unlimited opportunities for future generations.

Despite the difficult fiscal situation, the government initiated the era of 30 trillion won in R&D investment.

The competitiveness of our industries will be strengthened further by new future strategic technologies.

We will ensure that not a single means of support is overlooked when securing our country’s dominant positions in such key strategic technologies as aerospace, artificial intelligence and advanced bio-engineering as well as the market for future technology.

 

Fellow Koreans,

There is no future for a country that is preoccupied with vested interests and rent-seeking.

The Republic of Korea’s future and our future generations’ fate depend upon three major reforms: labor, education and pension. These cannot be delayed any longer.

First of all, we must drive economic growth through labor reforms.

We will do all we can to ensure fairness in labor-management and labor-labor relations as well as to improve workplace safety while flexibly adapting the labor market to meet changing demands.

The dual structure of our labor market needs to be improved.

The government must support companies pushing to transition to a duty-oriented, performance-based pay system in a different manner than it does with those that are preoccupied with a system based on seniority that seeks compromise with well-paid, yet demanding unions.

The starting point for the labor reform is establishing ‘rule of law in labor relations.’

‘Rule of law’ will provide a way to prevent unnecessary labor disputes and conflicts. With rule of law the value of labor will be rightfully respected.

Countries around the world are in life and death struggles to reform education in response to changing technology and the explosive demand for human resources.

Higher education is directly related to our nation’s competitiveness. We will boldly transfer relevant authority to local areas and provide them the support needed, so they can link education to their specific industries.

Without these educational reforms, it will be difficult to accomplish balanced regional development. Moreover, balanced regional development will provide a quick solution for the problem of low birth rates.

Curricula will be diversified, so future generations will be able to receive the types of education they desire, and we will ensure that everyone enjoys equal opportunities.

Pension reform is important as well.

The sustainability of the pension system cannot be guaranteed unless the issue of the snowballing deficit in pension finance is resolved.

Among the countries that have succeeded in pension reform, one thing is common: They reached a decision after considerable research and lengthy discussions conducted to attain a social consensus.

We will submit a legislative proposal on this reform to the National Assembly after conducting scientific research and investigations on pension finance, collecting public opinions and referring the issue to public discussions in a prompt manner.

 

Fellow Koreans,

Current crises and challenges are asking us to define what kind of a country the Republic of Korea is.

When we have found that something has gone wrong, we have tried to rectify it. When we have headed in the wrong direction, we have tried to stop. When we have taken a fall, we have tried to stand on our own feet. With strong determination, we have pushed for change and innovation.

Those with vested interests are tenacious in their obsessions, and compromising with them seems easy and convenient. But we have never settled for a small sea.

Freedom will provide us with more opportunities, and solidarity will present us with a greater future.

I will never lose sight of the mission our people have entrusted to me, and together with our great people, we will achieve a new takeoff.

In this new year, 2023, let’s venture out into a greater sea where freedom thrives and opportunities abound.

Thank you.

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