SOUTH KOREANS WANT NEW LEADER TO CREATE JOBS
Candidates’ superficial talk about jobs cannot win public support, says analyst
CREATING jobs, ending corruption and boosting stubbornly low birthrates should be high on a to-do list for South Korea’s next president after a campaign mostly dominated by security and foreign policy issues.
There’s concern that the economy will likely take a backseat to North Korea when South Koreans pick their leader tomorrow.
Voters have been rattled by a row over who should foot the bill for a United States anti-missile system deployed in the country to defend against North Korean aggression, after US President Donald Trump suggested that South Korea should pay more for US security commitment.
Public demand for change in the South’s economic system remains high, as growth and wealth continue to be concentrated in the hands of top few family-run business giants, known as chaebol.
Anger over allegations of collusion between big businesses and the government triggered massive months-long protests that led to the ouster of former president Park Geun-hye in March and the arrest of the defacto leader at Samsung, South Korea’s largest business group.
Leading presidential contenders have tried to tap into the discontent over economic injustice, high youth unemployment and increased inequality between those with full-time jobs at chaebol and those who are underemployed or looking for work.
But the lack of concrete reform plans means that none of their economic agenda gained much attention during the campaign.
“Candidates fell short of expectations from the public and could not thoroughly cover the reform agenda to change the economic system,” said Park Sang-in, a professor at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of Public Administration.
“Their talks of jobs and innovation are so superficial that they cannot win public support.”
On jobs, the two main contenders hold different views on what the government should do.
Moon Jae-in, the front-runner from the main opposition Democratic Party, believes that a bigger government would be better for creating jobs and said South Korea needs more public workers.
His main rival Ahn Cheol-soo also puts jobs high on his policy agenda, but says the government should not be heavy-handed in intervening in the private sector and instead focus on making the markets fair and friendlier for innovation. AP
Supporters of Moon Jae-in at a campaign rally in Chungju, South Korea, yesterday.