Legacy of President Moon Jae-in(5)


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)



It is to note that the exports of bio and future cars including electric cars rose by 7.6 times and 14 times, respectively. I may add that the exports of cultural products (contents) increased by 35.2%


As we will see below, another interesting aspect is the success of President Moon's Southern policy and Northern policy. The exports to the ASEAN countries roe by 53%, while the exports to Northern countries including Central Asian countries increased by as much as 95.8%.


5. Crisis Management

President Moon showed also his remarkable leadership in his handling the crisis of the shipping industry and the trade war with Japan.


The 2010s were bad decade for Korean shipping industry which creates 20,000 jobs. But, the shipping industry was losing its global market due to bad management and increasing competition.


The bankruptcy of Hanzin Sipping in February 2017 created panic in the ocean going shipping industry, which was a vital element for the Korean manufacturing industry. This was a crisis.


The shipping industry was not able to cope with the crisis. Under such circumstance, strong government leadership was needed. President Moon provided this leadership. He created the Korean Ocean Business Corporation which was a financial corporation funded by three state banks including the Korea Development Bank, the Export and Import Bank and the Korea Asset management Corporation. These banks provided USD 5.3 billion in accordance with 5-year planning


This fund was invested in three shipbuilders, namely, the Hyundai Heavy Industries, the Daewoo Shipbuilding & Maritime Engineering and the Samsung Heavy Industries. The success of this planning was symbolized by the construction of the largest NLG shipping ship, HMM Hanul of 16,000 TEU.(Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit)


To be frank, President Moon took a gamble but this gamble was the winner. This shows his courage and wisdom of handling a major crisis.


The plan was a big success. The amount of shipping capacity rose from 500,000 TEU in 2019 to 1,500,000 TEU by 2030


There is another legacy of President Moon. During the Pacific War (1941-1945), several hundred thousand Koreans were taken by force to be sent to work like slaves in Japanese mines and factories in Japan under less than sub-human living conditions. The victims have appealed to the Japanese court for compensation with no success.


But, on October 30, 2018, the Supreme Court of Korea ordered the responsible Japanese companies, the Misubishi Heavy Industries, the Sumimoto Metal & Steal and the Nippon Steal to make compensation payment to the victims. But they refused.


Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, then, declared trade war against Korea in July 1, 2019 by ordering the restriction of exports chemical products vital to the production of smart phones, TV sets and especially semiconductors which were the key items of Korea' exports. To make matter worse, on August 2, 2021, Abe put Korea out of the "White List" which provided special advantage to the exports of the listed countries


This was a crisis and Abe knew it. The pro-Japan conservative media and politicians argued that Korea should give in and forget about the compensation payment to the victims of labour slavery.


But, President Moon declared August 7, 2021:"We will never surrender to Japan".


Korea retaliated by putting Japan out of Korean white list on September 18, 2019. The position taken by President Moon inspired the Korean population by boycotting the purchase of Japanese goods. For instance, the sales of Japanese cars dropped by 57% in 2021; the sale of Japanese beer had free fall of 97%; the volume of Korean tourists going to Japan fell by 90%. In short, in Korea, the government and the people fought together against Japan


Moreover, President Moon encouraged SMEs to innovate and produce the controversial chemical products. No less than USD 5 billion was injected and, as a result, Korea's trade dependency on Japan for intermediary goods fell from 33.5% in 2017 to 24.9% in 2021.


Korea won in its trade war against Japan. This was the beginning of the end of Japanese neo-colonialism of which Korean has been victim ever since 1945 I will come back to this issue later in this paper.


6. North-South Relations

One of the important legacies of President Moon is what he accomplished for the North-South relations.


Actually, his role in the promotion of friendly relations with the North began on May 28, 2017 in his Berlin declaration for inter-Korea economic cooperation.


However, his North Korea diplomacy began with his invitation of Kim Jung-un to the Pyong-chang Winter Olympics; this invitation took place on August 15, 2017.


In fact, early that month, North Korea expressed its interests in participating in the Winter Olympics. After the delicate diplomacy of Kim Yo-jung, sister of Kim Jung-un, the athletics of both Koreas entered into the opening ceremony by waving a flag of the Korea peninsula.


Moreover, the world had the opportunity to see the joint ice-hockey game which was beautiful to watch, because it demonstrated the potential of peace on the Korean peninsula.


The game looked like a prelude to reunification of one people who had been united for 5,000 years but separated for 70 years.


Right after the Winter Olympics, President Moon sent on March 3, 2018, a strong delegation led by the NSC advisor to Pyongyang where North Korea expressed its readiness to negotiate for the denuclearization. (다음 호에 계속)





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