Five Priorities for South Korea’s Moon Jae-in in 2019

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What needs to be on the South Korean president’s agenda for the brand new yr?

Though his approval scores have remained comparatively excessive this yr, bolstered largely by public approval for his engagement-focused North Korea coverage, South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s lackluster home coverage, significantly his failure to handle financial considerations, has taken its toll.

Moon’s approval scores hit 47.1 % in mid-December, the lowest since he took workplace in Could 2017.  

Whereas, in fact, Moon should proceed to push ahead on the international coverage entrance, significantly as talks between america and North Korea look like at an deadlock, he might want to spend extra time specializing in home coverage in 2019 to take care of his political help. Listed here are 5 key points that face South Korea that can want explicit consideration within the coming yr.

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1. Financial Doldrums

Issues concerning the state of the economic system are on the high of the precedence checklist for a lot of South Koreans, significantly younger individuals on the lookout for employment. Regardless of the Moon administration’s makes an attempt at invigorating the job market, together with by elevating the minimal wage and capping the variety of hours staff can work every week, youth unemployment and underemployment stays excessive.

In the previous few weeks, a number of Korean assume tanks have launched forecasts for 2019, and the outlook seems bleak. In response to the Hyundai Analysis Institute, the nation’s economic system will solely develop about 2.5 % subsequent yr, and is headed for a low level within the second half of 2019 or early 2020.

Whereas a number of the financial insurance policies talked about above could take a while to indicate dividends, Moon might want to discover faster and simpler methods to spice up financial progress if he desires to regain political help from disillusioned younger Koreans.

2. Ageing Inhabitants

Though South Korea’s growing older inhabitants has been a priority for years, the nation could also be near reaching a breaking level. The nation’s total fertility charge has persistently dropped for years, reaching an all-time low of simply zero.95 infants per lady on the finish of 2018. This charge is lower than half the two.1 infants per lady wanted to take care of a rustic’s inhabitants.

The Moon administration unveiled new emergency measures in December geared toward making it simpler for to afford extra youngsters, together with large subsidies for medical care and daycare in addition to a rise in paid paternity depart. The administration additionally acknowledged the necessity to deal with discrimination within the office, a serious deterrent for girls who concern dropping their job after getting pregnant. However fixing that entrenched problem will take much more dedication and focus if South Korea actually desires to discover a sustainable resolution to the low start charge.

On the opposite finish of the spectrum, South Korea’s rising aged inhabitants can also be going through main difficulties. The nation’s aged poverty charge is 63.three %, the highest within the OECD, and 31 % of individuals aged 65 should take low-wage jobs after retirement to attempt to make ends meet. Suicide charges among the many aged are additionally significantly excessive. In tackling its coming demographic disaster, the Korean authorities may even should take steps to handle these points, not simply encouraging extra births.

three. Ladies’s Rights

From an enthusiastic embrace of the Me Too motion to large protests towards spy cams and revenge porn, South Korea grappled with girls’s rights all through this yr. Actually, in Twitter Korea’s list of most tweeted-about social points this yr, the highest three phrases had been all explicitly associated to girls’s points: “College Me Too,” “Feminism,” and “Spy Cam.”  

Nonetheless, the motion suffered some setbacks towards the tip of the yr, from Governor Ahn Hee Jung’s acquittal on rape costs to rapper San E’s musical rants towards Korea’s feminists. The approaching yr will present if girls’s rights activists and supporters can maintain the motion regardless of pushback. And the Moon administration should resolve the position it desires to play within the motion – though Moon made his help of the Me Too motion clear initially of the yr, the Korean authorities has largely stayed clear of those points thus far.

four. Security

When he ran for workplace in spring 2017, one among President Moon’s 12 pledges he promised to deal with ought to he win was constructing a safer Korea free from pointless accidents. Sadly, 2018 noticed a spate of incidents, from main and lethal fires to helicopter crashes to coach derailments.

Whereas many of those particular person incidents introduced vital public outcry over reduce corners and lax inspections, there was surprisingly little uproar about basic security considerations. Nevertheless, if this pattern continues in 2019, extra individuals are positive to take word. Moon would do effectively to deal with reforming security rules throughout the board – not solely to guard his political life however the lives of his residents as effectively.

5. Surroundings

One of many largest recurring tales in Korea over the previous few years has been the excessive stage of air air pollution that recurrently blanket the nation, however the problem actually escalated in 2018. Ranging from the very starting of the yr, extraordinarily excessive ranges of particulate matter within the air triggered emergency measures. Sadly, the Korea Meteorological Administration has predicted that this winter will probably be significantly extreme for superb mud air pollution.

Whereas some nonetheless argue over whether or not the air pollution is attributable to home components or whether or not mud blown over from China is extra in charge, the actual fact stays that the Korean authorities should take drastic regulatory and diplomatic measures to chop again on the quantity of harmful pollution in Korea’s air.

Jenna Gibson is a doctoral candidate in political science on the College of Chicago and a Korea blogger for The Diplomat. Yow will discover her on Twitter at @jennargibson.

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