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Opening Remarks by President Moon Jae-in at Public Presentation on Inclusive-nation Social Policies

Source : Cheong Wa Dae

(Unofficial translation)

My Administration aims to create an innovative, inclusive nation. This means that we should achieve innovative growth in the face of the Fourth Industrial Revolution while simultaneously building an inclusive nation where all citizens prosper together. The Republic of Korea turning into an innovative, inclusive nation signifies that it will become a country where innovation can lead to shared growth and everyone can enjoy the benefits of growth through inclusiveness.

Without innovative growth, it is difficult to build an inclusive nation; without inclusiveness, there is no innovative growth. Both innovative growth and an inclusive nation are people-centered goals. In an inclusive nation, every single citizen’s capabilities are important. Only when people receive all the education they desire, have sufficient rest with family members and maintain a descent living can they develop their capabilities further. These capabilities will serve as a driving force for sustainable innovative growth in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

An inclusive nation is not a country where the Government grants favors to the people or the better-off do likewise for the underprivileged. It is a country where everyone empowers one another and every single citizen and the state as a whole can achieve even more and enjoy even better benefits.

It is not long ago that policies began to reflect the idea that the state should protect the everyday lives of the people and that the people began to sense those policies’ impact. The Kim Dae-jung Administration first introduced the National Basic Living Security system. It enabled those in poverty to meet life’s minimum requirements. It was exactly 20 years ago. During this 20-year period, the awareness of the people has been raised even higher, and the country has made progress. We have come to understand that the guarantee of a minimum quality of life alone is unable to protect the dignity of humanity. The Republic of Korea’s national strength and financial capacity have also grown to an extent sufficient to provide support for more people to enjoy a higher quality of life.

The objective of an inclusive nation being pursued by my Administration starts exactly at this point: People should be assured decent lives that go beyond basic living standards.

The inclusive-nation implementation plan unveiled today is designed to support the complete life cycle of all the people, ranging from childrearing and education to career and retirement. It targets every aspect of life, including health, safety, income, the environment and housing. A state where all citizens can live with dignity in every stage of their lives is the blueprint of an inclusive Republic of Korea.

Many citizens are already sensing the beginning of tremendous changes brought about by such policies as minimum wage hikes, the expansion of national health insurance coverage, a state system that will take care of dementia patients, increases in basic pension benefits and the adoption of child benefits.

If the plan announced today is carried out as scheduled by 2022, all Korean citizens will be able to enjoy decent lives regardless of their gender and age – from young children to the elderly, from workers to the self-employed and microbusiness owners – and regardless of any disabilities they may possess. Let me explain how the lives of the people can be changed through the four social policy goals of an inclusive nation.

First, a robust social safety net will be created to enable each and every person to afford a decent living, and high quality social services will be provided. The number of social service jobs will increase, and the quality of jobs will also improve. As a result, the virtuous cycle of a caring economy – where the people experience a rise in the level of safety and the quality of life – will be created.

Second, investments in people will not be spared. The sources of technological advancement and industrial development all originate with people. Everyone will be able to seek as much education as they want without worrying about expenses, to chase their dreams with no fear of failure and to enjoy a comfortable life in their later years. Challenges taken on and innovation achieved from this foundation will lead the Korean economy toward innovative growth.

Third, many more jobs of higher quality will be created. Korea will become a country where no one is excluded and everyone can work without suffering discrimination and prejudices and fearing a job loss. I will help create a country where people are guaranteed an education to adapt to a new era or a new job and can foster their own capabilities.

Fourth, sufficient rest allows people to work with more satisfaction and efficiency. To help people enjoy a higher quality of life, I will ensure that leisure can become part of our everyday lives. I will make sure that families can spend more time together while their children are growing up without sacrificing income. I will make certain that excessive work hours will be reduced and that the workplace and life will become more gratifying. I will help people enjoy cultural activities near their home without traveling a long distance.

The world is now paying close attention to the concept of an innovative, inclusive nation in a bid to solve the realities facing each country. Global issues such as conflicts arising from excessive polarization and economic inequality, overcoming discrimination and exclusion, economic divides between countries, and environmental problems are also of concern. Many international organizations, including the World Bank, the United States, the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, are recommending that each country follow a path toward becoming an inclusive nation and are closely watching how Korea faces its challenges.

Changes are always terrifying. However, we – empty handed after colonization and the Korean War – have built the world’s 11th largest economic powerhouse in just around 70 years. We have achieved this feat while quickly responding to changes. Shifting from agriculture to light industry and from heavy and chemical industries to advanced information and communication technology, Korea has accomplished immense transformation that no other country has ever achieved and took a leap forward to become a developed state, the only post-World War II newly independent state to do so.

Having achieved success from scratch with our bear hands, we possess potential. We are people who are not afraid of changes but instead use them proactively. I am confident that when the potential and strength of our people are combined, we will be able to lead the process of transforming into an inclusive nation, and the inclusive nation we build will become an exemplary model for the world.

To this end, tasks remaining should be solved properly. More than anything else, legislation and budgetary support from the National Assembly are needed. My Administration will prepare mid-term fiscal plans in the first half of this year, and the ruling party, the Government and Cheong Wa Dae will closely consult with each other to prepare related bills and budget proposals. A happy life is a natural right that the people should be able to exercise. Since this is an undertaking to get us on a road toward everyone prospering together, I will elicit without fail bipartisan cooperation in the National Assembly.

An inclusive nation is a country we are all creating together. I hope that the Government and the people, and all of us, will stand by each other.

Thank you.

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