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National

Administration promises social policies that are inclusive

Sept 07,2018
President Moon Jae-in makes opening remarks at a meeting in the Blue House on Thursday to discuss the administration’s strategies and policies on social issues. [YONHAP]
President Moon Jae-in proposed on Thursday his administration’s vision of how to improve Korean society in the next three years.

“Inclusiveness will become the core value of this government,” Moon said during a meeting at the Blue House to discuss the administration’s strategies and policies on social issues. “Each department and bureau in the government must come up with a medium to long-term road map on social policies as soon as possible under this value.

“The government must take care of the livelihoods of the people across their life spans in order to promote a sustainable society,” he said. “Inclusiveness will be the vision of South Korea, and this administration has the duty of taking the first steps for this vision.”

Previous administrations have held similar policy-planning meetings on economic or security issues, but the meeting on Thursday marked the first time any administration hosted one on social policies.

The meeting was joined by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Education Minister Kim Sang-kon, Presidential Committee on Policy Planning Chair Jung Hae-gu and the ruling Democratic Party Chairman Lee Hae-chan.

“The aim is to help Korean society become more inclusive and innovative,” the Presidential Committee on Policy Planning said in a statement.

It outlined three subsidiary visions, though no specific action plans were proposed at this stage.

The first vision is to strengthen social integration by bridging the income gap, ensuring equal opportunities across genders and balancing development throughout the country. The second is to secure a sustainable society through effective policies to counter Korea’s low birth rate and its aging society, improve the social welfare system and build a safety net for environmental and natural disasters. The third vision, the committee said, is to boost innovative capabilities among both the young and old and provide adaptive labor market policies for changing job markets and industries.

“To be more specific, the government will be working on providing national living standards for all citizens throughout their life spans,” the committee said. “These national living standards will have two levels, that of minimum and that of decent.”

According to the committee, examples of minimum national living standards may include free high-school education for all; a 52-hour work week; labor hours compliant with the standards of the International Labor Union; raising pensions for low-income senior citizens; a child welfare fund; increased government support for dementia patients; and more public housing.

The committee did not outline what “decent” national living standards may be, but added that relevant ministries and the administration should come up with them after the minimum standards have been reached.

“Inclusive social policies go hand in hand with the administration’s income-led growth policies,” the committee said. “The administration will have to build a governance body that will help coordinate the economic and social policies.”

BY LEE SEUNG-HO, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]
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