Legacy of President Moon Jae-in(3)


He came to give the country back to the people


Joseph H. Chung (정희수), Ph.D. Professor of Economics at Quebec University in Montreal (UQAM)


(지난 호에 이어)


2. Fight against the CORONA-19 Virus

The world has admired Korea's remarkable success in its fight against the Corona-19 virus. Such success is attributable to the following factors: rapid government reaction to the outburst of the virus, the government reliance on science and technology, inspiring leadership of President Moon Jae-in, citizens' deep trust in the president Moon and his government and voluntary cooperation of the people.


On January 20, 2020, a woman affected by Corona-19 virus from China was discovered.


On January 27, 2020, the government reacted immediately. A special meeting was held in Seoul Train Station to discuss the proper measure.


On January 30, 2020, the inter-ministry task force was formed. On February 4, 2020, the first test kit appeared and by the end of February, as many as 10,000 test kits became available. This shows the rapidity with which the government acted.


One episode shows to what extent President Moon respected science and experts in public health. By the end of February 2020, most of the countries blocked the entry of people. President suggested to the director of the Korean Disease Control Prevention Agency (KDCPA-질병관리청) to let the people to come in. But the KCDCPA director said "no" and President agreed.


President Moon was one of the very few national leaders who really loved and cared for the people. I am one of those who believe that the most important qualification of a national leader is the love of people.


On February 2, 2020, President Moon visited Daegu, the city which was the most infected city due to the deliberate refusal of test by a politically motivated religious entity, Shinchonzi. Daegu city needed 1,000,000 masks. President Moon mobilized the whole government including the military to get the masks. He got these masks for the citizens of Daegu city.


What surprised the world was the fact that Korea had the general election in April, 2020 despite the persistent spread of the virus. Some other countries tried the same with no success. This was possible in Korea, because the people loved the president and they had trust in the president.


Moreover, President Moon was much concerned for the infected people of the world. By March, 2020, President Moon had 50 calls from the heads of states for help. For instance, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron called for help on March 24, 2020. President Donald Trump called President Moon to ask for masks which Korea could not provide. Instead, Korea sent 300,000 test kits for which President Trump was very grateful


Under President Moon's leadership, Korea sent masks and test kits to 170 countries free of charge in case of developing countries. He sent masks to veterans of the Korea war and their families.


Another achievement of President Moon was the non-confinement of business firms allowing the continuation of business activities, although limited. As a result, the economic performance of Korea was the best in the world.


The growth rate of GDP of developed countries in 2020was as follow: the U.S. (-3.4%), UK (-6.3%), France (-8.1%), Germany (-0.4%), Japan (-6.0%), Korea (-0.3%)


The superior performance of Korea in the anti-Corona virus war was reflected in the casualties of the Pandemic.


As of June 2020, the death rate (number of death per number of infected): The U.S. (1.2%), UK (0.8%), France (0.5%), Germany (0.5%), Canada (1.1%), Japan (0.3%) and Korea (0.1%).


On the other hand, the number of death per 100,000 people was as follow: the U.S. (306.35), UK (264.66), France (229.32), Germany (167.80), Canada (108.0) and South Korea (47.41).


These data show how the government of Moon Jae-in had such a surprising success both in the anti-virus war and the promotion of economic growth.


3. Social Reform


For President Moon, the social reform was very important for two reasons.


First, it is the sacred responsibility of the state to assure the economic, social and cultural rights recognized by the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) of 1948. These rights are the access to a decent life and the state should provide such decent life to all citizens, at least, provide conditions conducive to these rights. The best way to achieve social reform is fair income distribution


Second, the fair distribution of income is difficult to assure under the present neoliberal economic system. Under this system, the power of large corporations is greater than that of the government and therefore, the income distribution is more determined by the large corporation than by the government.


Now, in neoliberal economic system, the corporation has to make profit. To make profit, the corporation must reduce the labour cost. To reduce labour cost, the corporations rely on labour cost-saving technology including robots and artificial intelligence on the one hand and, on the other, restrict the role of labour unions. This has led to the concentration of income and wealth in the hands of business leaders.


Moreover, the income and the wealth tend to be concentrated in the hands of decreasing number of business leaders. This is due to intense competition. As competition continues, the number of winners decreases. As a result, the income and the wealth tend to be concentrated in the hands of further decreasing number of winners.


This trend is dramatically observed in Korea. For instance, in the period between 2107 and 2021, the asset share of the top 1% of households had rose from 23.2% to 25.4%.


In the same period, the wealth of the top 20% rose from USD 7.04 million to USD 9.6million, while the wealth of the bottom 20% de decreased from USD 54,000 to USD 39.200.


In other words, the wealth of the top 20 rose by 37.1%, while the wealth of the bottom 20% fell by 21.8%


However, as far as income distribution is concerned, due to President Moon's social reform, it has shown some improvement.


One of the popular indictors of the inequality of income distribution is the Gini coefficient. It varies from 0 to 100. The higher the Gini, the more unequal income distribution becomes in favour of the rich. Conversely, the lower the Gini, the more equal income distribution becomes in favour of the poor. (다음 호에 계속)




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